The now-resigned Chief of the Bin Laden Unit at the Counterterrorist Center himself, the guy who looked at Bin Laden every single day for three years, submits that while he believes that Al-Qaeda is not a terrorist organisation, but rather an insurgency, noone has identified what Al-Qaeda looks like in terms of organisation. The BBC documentary "The Power of Nightmares," submits, specifically in Part III, that Al-Qaeda as we've been educated by mass media to understand it simply does not exist. That "Wherever one looks for this al-Qaeda organisation, from the mountains of Afghanistan to the "sleeper cells" in America, the British and Americans are chasing a phantom enemy." In fact it asserts specifically that Bin Laden had no formal organization beyond his small group (and even had to hire "fighters" to shoot guns and walk around with masks in his pre-9/11 videos) until U.S. prosecutors, going after in court the four men charged with the East African Embassy bombing, also tried Bin Laden in absentia; to do so, the documentary claims, required under American law (specifically RICO statutes) evidence of a criminal organization. A walk-in source, passed over by a number of Middle Eastern secret services, Jamal Ahmed Al-Fadl, a Sudanese militant and former associate of Bin Laden (and apparently on the run from Bin Laden, having stolen money from him), provided that organization in a Manhattan courtroom, and was provided with significant amounts of U.S. taxpayers' money. The documentary submits that Bin Laden and Zawahiri were not even in fundamental relationship with either the 9/11 plans or the plans' originator, Khaled Sheik Mohammed, until Mohammed heard that Bin Laden had $$$ and came to him for some to execute this nightmare. In contrast, the selfsame BBC's Al-Qaeda timeline submits that in 1988, "As Soviet troops withdraw from Afghanistan, Osama Bin Laden and other Arab fighters in the country form alQaeda which in Arabic means "the base." The network begins looking for new jihads (holy wars)." In addition, the DOJ claims this manual is an Al Qaeda one, found in an "Al-Qaeda's member's home." Bin Laden never referred to the term Al-Qaeda until U.S. officials did. On the spirit of the question "Is the employment of 'Al Qaeda' and accurate one, one being used generally to sweep up Islamic insurgency under one big tent, or one that, in its effort to do so, is in fact MISSING the diffuse reality of angry fundamental religious movements with guns?" please bottom line it for us. What, exactly, is Al-Qaeda? Of course we're all speaking from opinion; but please share with the discussion the sources with which you've solidified your opinion so that we can critique those sources (even if your source is "common sense" or some such bullsh!t). To me, this is important because of the possibility of the third scenario, above; that, in our post 9/11 fear, we reached for a prosecutorial tool that may be less than reality, and that in employing it, we are in fact STILL failing to do the real work that needs to be done to get at what may be very diffuse, independent, solitary, singular groups of disaffected folks that have nothing to do with any Al-Qaeda. The number of Arabic translators at CIA and NSA on September 10th 2001 tells me that it's far more likely that we have information with which to act than we did before that sad moment. But in which frame of reference and belief? An accurate one, or an easy/misinformed/political/manipulated one? If the latter, to any significant level, is the case, how do we undo the Gordian Knot of falsity and get to the hard work (and it seems to be local intel/police work that is rooting where there is out here in the UK) that needs to be done, that sweeping military strategy cannot do (sorta like gross and fine motor skills), and that MUST be done if we are to authentically protect, and come to understand, the various and sundry protestations against America, and its perceived empire.