There are differing histories regarding the genesis of Al Qaeda. The standard history, as found in Lawrence Wright's The Looming Tower, has it that Al Qaeda was founded in 1988 by Usama bin Laden and his associates in order to expand the scope of jihad, as the Soviet Union was then on its last legs in Afghanistan. By other accounts, however, there was never an organization whose members called it by this name. Rather, it was the term with which Western intelligence agencies referred generally to a list - a database - of mujaheddin and jihadists that they had accumulated over the years. Thus, it was a blanket term of sorts, thrown over a hodgepodge of Islamist militants, in the same manner that, for instance, we might make up a word to apply to the disorganized set of white supremacist groups throughout the West.
Al Qaeda - the Database
Context of '1988: ’Al-Qaeda’ Possibly the Name of a Computer Database'
Taking it a step further, there are claims that bin Laden, aka Tim Osman, is a full-fledged CIA asset, thus making "al Qaeda" really al-CIA'da.
Whatever the case may be, "the Base" is coming home to roost... in Yemen. Consider, to begin with, that Yemen is bin Laden's ancestral home, where the patriarch Muhammed bin Awed bin Laden was born in 1908. But in more recent times, as we read from the AP...
Thousands of Yemenis are battle-hardened veterans of 'holy wars' in Afghanistan, Bosnia, Chechnya, and Iraq, and though most are not engaged in violence now, they preserve a die-hard al-Qaeda ideology.
Finally, to gratuitously take a fictional episode as a strange, unwitting parable of the situation, consider this scenario in the spy novel Death Beam, by former British spook Robert Moss (unwitting, presumably, because it was published nearly thirty years ago). Sammy Hamad is a Palestinian terrorist recruited by the Russians whose mission is to sabotage U.S. air defense and to assassinate the President. Following his attempted assassination of Ronald Reagan while disguised as a wealthy Saudi, Hamad somehow manages to escape the U.S. and then finds his way to Yemen... to al-Gheidda, Yemen, to be specific. There, he is hunted down by agents of "the Club" (an informal collaboration of CIA, MI6, & Mossad agents) at a place called the "Camp of the Martyrs" - into the canteen kitchen he is chased and executed like a sacrificial lamb.
A little word-play here reveals the uncanniness of the fiction... "Sammy" Hamad posing as a wealthy Saudi, like the one who goes by the name, O-SAM-A* bin Laden... this Sammy takes refuge in the Yemeni coastal city of "al-Gheidda" - not at all phonetically distant from al-Qaeda - near the region that was the ancestral home of the bin Ladens, the Hadhramaut, or "Court of Death" as it is biblically known, where he meets his demise in... we might say... a Feast of Martyrs (as it happened in the canteen of the Camp of Martyrs) ... or as it is known among some Egyptians, the Feast of Nayrouz, which falls on September 11th...
Robert Moss has since become a practitioner of "active dreaming," which suggests a familiarity with what James Shelby Downard called "twilight language"
*That is, "Sam" flanked by an Omega & Alpha, or variably spelled, U-(as in Uncle)-Sam-A.... U-S-A-ma... The CIA acronym for bin Laden, UBL, would indeed indicate the preferred spelling as "Usama" - though this deprives us of "Bad Mason In Lead," among other possibilities.