Al-Qaeda is a terrorist group that claimed credit for the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and for the plane crash in a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, in 2001. The members of the militant Islamist group were led by Osama bin Laden until his death in 2011 at the hands of U.S. Navy Seals.
Al-Qaeda is believed to have originated during the Soviet Union uprising in Afghanistan. Thousands of men from throughout the Middle East traveled to the region to volunteer as mujahideen fighters and defend Muslim families against Soviet forces. During the 1980s, Osama bin Laden is felt to have become the “prime financier” for Al-Qaeda, allowing recruitment from mosques around the world to increase.