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Al Qaeda after Madrid

The war in Iraq is radicalising a new generation of Islamic terrorist freelancers

By Jason Burke   June 2004

Despite several hundred books and countless words of analysis since 11th September, there is still some confusion over al Qaeda’s true nature. Some, albeit a diminishing number, believe that al Qaeda is a group of fanatical terrorists, led by Osama bin Laden, with a network of “sleeper cells” all over the world. Some describe al Qaeda as a set of loosely linked groups with broadly shared goals. It is spoken of as a “brand” or a “franchise.” Others deny the existence of al Qaeda altogether, saying that if al Qaeda is anything, it is a worldview. Still more want to…

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