There is also no evidence that bin Laden used the term Al Qaeda to refer to the name of a group until after September the 11th, when he realized that this was the term the Americans have given it.
The Power of Nightmares
The Power of Nightmares talks about Jamal al Fadl, “a Sudanese militant who was with bin Laden in the early 90s”, who was a key prosecution witness in the trial of the 1998 embassy bombers, held in January 2001. They say of his testimony:
The picture al-Fadl drew for the Americans of bin Laden was of an all-powerful figure at the head of a large terrorist network that had an organised network of control. He also said that bin Laden had given this network a name: Al Qaeda. It was a dramatic and powerful picture of bin Laden, but it bore little relationship to the truth.
The Power of Nightmares
...and then tell us that “there is also no evidence that bin Laden used the term Al Qaeda to refer to the name of a group until after September the 11th”.
Here’s a comment bin Ladin made from an October 2001 interview:
Osama bin Ladin: The name "al Qaeda" was established a long time ago by mere chance. The late Abu Ebeida El-Banashiri established the training camps for our mujahedeen against Russia's terrorism. We used to call the training camp al Qaeda [meaning "the base" in English]. And the name stayed.
interview between Al-Jazeera television correspondent Tayseer Alouni and Osama Bin Laden in October 2001
How long ago was the name established? The 9/11 Commission Report talks of the late 1980’s:
Bin Laden and Azzam agreed that the organization successfully created for Afghanistan should not be allowed to dissolve. They established what they called a base or foundation (al Qaeda) as a potential general headquarters for future jihad.
Page 56, Chapter 2
9/11 Commission Report
If you don’t trust the Commission, then try this US State Department statement on
bin Ladin from August 14th 1996:
TEXT: STATE DEPARTMENT ISSUES FACTSHEET ON BIN LADIN
(Sponsor of Islamic extremist activities described)
By 1985, Bin Ladin had drawn on his family's wealth, plus donations received from sympathetic merchant families in the Gulf region, to organize the Islamic Salvation Foundation, or al-Qaida, for this purpose.
Are we to believe that bin Ladin failed to notice this, where the US Government described him as “one of the most significant financial sponsors of Islamic extremist activities in the world today”?
Other mentions of al Qaeda prior to al-Fadl’s 2001 testimony include this MSNBC article from August 24th, 1998:
In fact, while he returned to his family's construction business, bin Laden had split from the relatively conventional MAK in 1988 and established a new group, al-Qaida, that included many of the more extreme MAK members he had met in Afghanistan.
And then there were the original legal documents, the complaints and indictments, relating to the Embassy bombings trial in which al Fadl would eventually testify. This excerpt is from September 1998:
Overview: Usama Bin Laden, the al Qaeda Organization, the Embassy Bombings and Wadi el Hage
5. During the course of my investigation, I have become familiar with a terrorist organization know as al Qaeda. I have learned from a variety of sources, including: persons who have been associated with al Qaeda; statements by the leader of al Qaeda, Usama Bin Laden; and documentary evidence, that al Qaeda is an international terrorist organization led by Usama Bin Laden. The purposes of al Qaeda include, among other things: (i) killing members of the American military stationed in Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Somalia and elsewhere; and (ii) killing American civilians worldwide, in response to, and in order to influence, the foreign policy of the government of the United States. As is set forth below, EL HAGE has admitted serving as the personal secretary of Usama Bin Laden while Bin Laden and EL HAGE lived in the sudan and has also admitted being familiar with Bin Laden's ranking military commanders, Abu Ubaidah al Banshiri and Abu Hafs el Masry. In 1994, EL HAGE moved from Sudan to kenya where he lived until
1997 before returning to the United States.
There’s definitely evidence for widespread use of the name before 9/11, then.
Note also that while The Power of Nightmares wants to tell you that al Fadl played a big part in creating the “myth” of al Qaeda, this document, from more than two years earlier, tells a similar story: there is an “international terrorist organisation”, it is called al Qaeda, it is led by bin Ladin. In these claims, at least, al Fadl was only reinforcing information that was already public.