We have witnessed the rise of many terrorist organizations. From Al-Qaeda to the Taliban, Al-Shabaab and now the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria which spawned from the war in Syria. They recently claimed for the recent attack in London killing three people.

Are these terrorist organizations a direct result of invasion of Middle Eastern countries? Is there a time span for when these organizations were formed?

  • Those particular ones? I recall a couple on that list were cited as reasons for invasions. cross-site related
    – user9389
    Mar 24, 2017 at 21:59
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    In the 20th century there were numerous (oil related) interventions in the ME to install compliant kings and dictators and the Aliyah but these aren't "invasions" according to our Western religious and political beliefs. Mar 27, 2017 at 5:15
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    From purely technical perspective - why are you assuming that causation must be in this direction? From for example from 9/11 we can draw a conclusion, that there is indeed a correlation, after a big enough terrorist attack, West loses its patience and retaliates.
    – Shadow1024
    Sep 9, 2019 at 8:04

2 Answers 2


Since you specified a fixed list of organizations, its pretty easy to look up when they were founded and what was going on at the time. As a reminder correlation does not imply causation. The fact that an activity was going on at the time does not inherently mean it was the cause of the rise of an organization (nor does it mean that it wasn't).

Al-Qaeda, founded in 1988 in Afghanistan

This is one case where we can pretty clearly say that they rose out of an invasion. The Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in 1980 and many resistance fighter groups quickly organized. Osama Bin Laden (possibly with CIA help) was the leader of one such group that would eventually be called Al-Qaeda.

Taliban, founded in 1994 in Afghanistan

The origins of the Taliban are not directly related to any invasion or occupational forces. According to wiki the first origins of the Taliban was a response to some local violence that eventually grew into a large militia force.

Al-Shabaab, founded in 2006 in Somalia

Al-Shabaab came out of civil unrest (pretty much a civil war) in Somalia. There was originally a group called the Islamic Courts Union. They were defeated and Al-Shabaab came out of the ICU dissolution.

ISIS (formerly known as Jama'at Al-Tawhid wal-Jihad), founded in 1999 in Jordan,

The group was originally formed to overthrow the king of Jordan. Since then it has gone through many transformations. ISIS gained its current status in ~2014 when it exploded in power and took huge swaths of Syrian and Iraqi land. ISIS was able to do this by exploiting the weakness of the Syrian government during its civil war (caused by the Arab spring).

While the only group clearly related to an invasion is Al-Qaeda, all of these groups had many circumstances that built their environments. It is up to the reader to determine how much they believe various factors played into each group's foundation.

  • This is a good answer but I'm not asking about the history of these terrorists organizations. Rather, links between their formation being caused by invasion of Middle Eastern countries. If you can give their goal and agenda, it would make it a really good answer.
    – Noah
    Mar 25, 2017 at 2:17
  • @Noah In my answer I state that only one of them has a formation clearly linked to the invasion of a middle east country. The formation of the rest is not directly related to invasions. Mar 25, 2017 at 2:36
  • Well, in this case correlation does imply causation. These organizations were a direct result of the wars in the Middle East. I'm probably asking for too much but any chance you can give a time frame for first war/conflict which involved a western nation and if caused any backlash and organizations like these forming?
    – Noah
    Mar 26, 2017 at 17:02
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    @Noah (1) Correlation does not imply causation. Ever. If you want causation you need to show causation. See the section of Al-Qaeda. Also not all of them were a direct result of a war, some started with fairly minor conflicts , see Taliban. (2) If you want the first western conflict in the middle east you probably have to go back to the crusades... so Im not really sure what you're asking for there Mar 26, 2017 at 17:04

Invasion of Middle East by allied forces cannot be considered the sole reason for terrorist activities around the world or the sudden outburst of these terrorist outfits. But, definitely there is a correlation. These invasions have emboldened the radical forces, provided them more exposure, know how, mode of funding, expansion and predominantly helped them going overt. The most serious consequence of their overt terrorist operations have been the spread of their cadres and surge in recruitment around the globe, not just in the Islamic world.

As far the terrorist outfits and their modus operandi goes, one may want go back to the 80's and 90's and study Afghanistan-Pakistan region. The birth of some deadliest modern day terrorist outfits like Al Qaeda and Taliban or the several small front groups they float. And how time and again these front groups either merge or rename themselves and come back as much stronger force. More importantly it draws a clear link between the so called Islamic jihad and state sponsored terrorism. Its interesting to find how young, uneducated youths from tribal regions of Afghanistan and Pakistan were picked up armed and funded both by America and its ally Pakistan in order to fight Soviet and post Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan, they were left there to multiply and strengthen. When yo look at the war in Iraq and Syria and draw a comparison you might find the same strategy in place.

There was no invasion in Pakistan except some drone strikes by their own ally US and that too happened just a few years back but there history of terrorist association, related activities as well as promoting cross border terrorism goes back to the 80s.


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