Quick Guide: Al-Qaeda
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War on terror

Mujahideen drove Soviet forces from Afghanistan in 1989

Al-Qaeda emerged in Afghanistan in the late 1980s, as Arab volunteers joined US-backed Afghan mujahideen fighting to expel the occupying Soviet forces.

Bin Laden set up an organisation to help the volunteers, which became known as al-Qaeda, or "the base".

He left Afghanistan in 1989, returning in 1996 to run military training camps for thousands of foreign Muslims.

In 1998 he called for attacks on US soldiers and civilians. Bombs soon destroyed two US embassies in Africa.