Arabic for "The Base", the group established to support mujaheddin fighting in Afghanistan and now controlled by Osama bin Laden.

There are cells of al-Qaeda all over the world, all of which report (through intermediaries, no doubt) to bin Laden.

Ironically, al-Qaeda was set up with the help of the US government. It seemed like a good idea at the time, since they were fighting the Evil Empire. Now they have become the new evil empire, an underground group that has challenged NATO and the Warsaw Pact.

Qaeda means base. I suppose it's an appropriate name, since one of the meanings of base is "crude, vulgar or fundamental"(ist)...

(I've also seen the name spelled "Al Qaeda", "al Qaeda", "al-Qa'eda", etc., so if anyone can provide the most appropriate transliteration, I'll have the title changed...)