What’s the difference between Al-Qaeda and Taliban? Group names explained, who was leader Ayman Al-Zawahiri?

The 71-year-old former doctor had taken over as leader of Al-Qaeda from Osama bin Laden in 2011

President Biden has announced that US forces have killed Al-Qaeda leader Ayman Al-Zawahiri in a drone strike in Afghanistan.

Announcing the news, President Biden said Al-Zawahiri had “carved a trail of murder and violence against American citizens”.

The Talbian, who regained control of Afghanistan in August 2021 have reacted strongly to the strike, accusing the US operation as a violation.

The group had previously offered Al-Qaeda a safe haven, however had agreed to not allow Al-Qaeda to operate in areas under their control at the US Taliban peace deal in 2020.

But who is Al-Qaeda and are they different from the Taliban?

Here’s everything you need to know.

Smoke rises from a house following a US drone strike in the Afghan capital of Kabul (Pic: AFP via Getty Images)

Who is Al-Qaeda?

Al-Qaeda, also known as Qaedat al-Jihad, is a militant Islamic fundamentalist group that was founded in 1988 by Osama bin Laden.

The group was based in Afghanistan since 1996 and was held responsible for the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York.

Within weeks of the attack, America had declared the “war on terror” by attacking Taliban and Al-Qaeda forces in Afghanistan.

Bin Laden was killed by US intelligence forces in May 2011, after it was discovered he was hiding in a secure compound, in Abbottabad, Pakistan just 31 miles away from the capital, Islamabad.

The death was announced in an address to the nation by then president Barack Obama, who confirmed that they had “conducted an operation that killed Osama bin Laden, the leader of al Qaeda.”

Who are the Taliban?

The Taliban, whose name translates to students in the Pashto language, are an Islamic fundamentalist group that currently are in power in Afghanistan.

They emerged in the 1990s after the Soviet Union withdrew its troops from Afghanistan.

They promised to restore peace and security to the region through their interpretation of Sharia or Islamic Law.

A group of Afghan women walk towards a market in Ghazni (Pic: Images)

They ruled most of Afghanistan by 1996, imposing strict rules banning girls over the age of 10 going to school, along with television, music and cinema.

They also brought in public executions and forced men to grow beards and women to wear the burka.

They became infamous around the world after the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York.

The Taliban were accused of providing a sanctuary for Osama Bin Laden and the Al-Qaeda group.

This led to the US attacking Afghanistan and removing the Taliban regime in October 2001.

Over the next two decades Afghanistan re-established itself as a growing democracy.

The Talbian regained power in August 2021 following on from the US-Taliban peace deal of February 2020.

What are the differences between the two?

The Taliban and Al-Qaeda are two separate movements.

According to Diffen, the differences between the two stem from their ideology.

Whereas Al-Qaeda believes in Sharia Law influenced by the writings of Sayyid Qutb also known as Qutbism, the Taliban believe in Sharia Law and Pashtun tribal codes.

Osama bin Laden (L) sits with Ayman al-Zawahiri in an interview in 2001 (Pic: Getty Images)

Who was Al Qaeda leader Ayman Al-Zawahiri?

Ayman Al-Zawahiri was the leader of Al-Qaeda.

The 71-year-old former doctor who was killed in a drone strike in the Afghan capital of Kabul carried out by the CIA.

He took over as leader of Al-Qaeda after Bin Laden’s death in 2011 and was credited for plotting the September 11 attacks along with him.

Al-Zawahiri was on the FBI’s most wanted list, with the organisation updating his page to say “deceased” following the news.

Speaking about him, President Biden said Al-Zawahiri had: “carved a trail of murder and violence against American citizens.

“From hiding, he co-ordinated al-Qaeda’s branches and all around the world, including setting priorities for providing operational guidance and calling for and inspired attacks against US targets,” the president said in a live television address from the White House.

“Now justice has been delivered and this terrorist leader is no more.”