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Knowledge Base

The Future of South Asian Security

Terms You May Have Heard

Al Qaeda: a loosely knit terrorist organization founded by Osama bin Laden in 1988 with the goal of eliminating Western presence in Arab countries. Al Qaeda is one group associated with the 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center.

Diplomacy: A country’s practice of maintaining foreign relationships and conducting negotiations between nations through representatives abroad.

Islamabad: The capital of Pakistan.

Jihadist terrorism: A term used to describe militant Islamicist movements. Although the term jihad is nuanced within Muslim communities and encompasses many kinds of striving or struggling, Western countries have adopted a simplified definition of the term to describe radical terrorist movements.

September 11 attacks (9/11): A series of attacks coordinated by terrorist group Al Qaeda against the United States on the morning of September 11, 2001. The attacks consisted of four hijacked planes: three flown into the twin towers of the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, and a fourth that crashed into a field in Pennsylvania before hitting its target. The attacks on September 11 resulted in almost three thousand fatalities and spurred the US War on Terror and invasion of Afghanistan.

Strategic depth: the distance between a country’s front lines of battle and industrial areas, major cities, or other important military production or population centers.

Taliban: A terrorist organization that is waging war within Afghanistan. In areas of Afghanistan under Taliban control, Afghan citizens (especially women) have faced brutal treatment. In 1996, the Taliban seized the Afghan capital of Kabul and set up a government based on radical ideals. From 1996 to 2001, the Taliban controlled most of Afghanistan. US involvement after the 9/11 attacks led to the overthrowing of the Taliban government. However, a significant portion of Afghanistan is still under Taliban control.