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The lack of any significant numbers of convicted al-Qaeda members, despite a large number of arrests on terrorism charges, was cited by the documentary as a reason to doubt whether a widespread entity that met the description of al-Qaeda existed.According to author Robert Cassidy, al-Qaeda controls two separate forces deployed alongside insurgents in Iraq and Pakistan.
The name of the organization and details of its structure were provided in the testimony of Jamal al-Fadl, who said he was a founding member of the group and a former employee of bin Laden. There were selective portions of al-Fadl's testimony that I believe was false, to help support the picture that he helped the Americans join together.This was the case, for instance, with the International Islamic Relief Organization (IIRO) and the Muslim World League (MWL). Treasury designated Abd Al-Rahman al-Nuaimi, a Qatari citizen close to the al-Thani family and a human rights activist who founded the Swiss-based NGO Alkarama, as a global terrorist for his activities in support to al-Qaeda. Nuaimi was also accused of overseeing a million monthly transfer to al-Qaeda in Iraq for a period of time as part of his role as mediator between Iraq-based al-Qaeda senior officers and Qatari citizens. A prominent figure among AQAP ranks, he was also reported to have facilitated the flow of funding to AQAP affiliates based in Yemen.The former had solid ties with al-Qaeda associates worldwide, including al-Qaeda’s deputy Ayman al Zawahiri’s brother working for IIRO in Albania who had actively recruited on behalf of al-Qaeda and involved several Egyptian Islamic Jihad members in IIRO activities. Moreover, Nuaimi is known to be associated with Abd al-Wahhab Muhammad 'Abd al-Rahman al-Humayqani, a Yemeni politician and founding member of Alkarama listed as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT) by the U. Nuaimi was accused of investing funds in the charity directed by Humayqani to ultimately fund AQAP.However, author and journalist Adam Curtis argues that the idea of al-Qaeda as a formal organization is primarily an American invention.Curtis contends the name "al-Qaeda" was first brought to the attention of the public in the 2001 trial of bin Laden and the four men accused of the 1998 US embassy bombings in East Africa: The reality was that bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri had become the focus of a loose association of disillusioned Islamist militants who were attracted by the new strategy. These were militants who mostly planned their own operations and looked to bin Laden for funding and assistance. There is also no evidence that bin Laden used the term "al-Qaeda" to refer to the name of a group until after September 11 attacks, when he realized that this was the term the Americans had given it.
When asked about the possibility of al-Qaeda's connection to the July 7, 2005 London bombings in 2005, Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Ian Blair said: "Al-Qaeda is not an organization. What exactly al-Qaeda is, or was, remains in dispute.