Editor's Note: This article originally appeared on The Conversation.

Al-Qaida has recruited an estimated 40,000 fighters since Sept. 11, 2001, when the Osama bin Laden-led extremist group attacked the United States, according to the not-for-profit Council on Foreign Relations.

Despite a United States-led global “ war on terror" that has cost US$5.9 trillion, killed an estimated 480,000 to 507,000 people and assassinated bin Laden, al-Qaida has grown and spread since 9/11, expanding from rural Afghanistan into North Africa, East Africa, the Sahel, the Gulf States, the Middle East and Central Asia.

In those places, al-Qaida has developed new political influence – in some areas even supplanting the local government.

So how does a religious extremist group with fewer than a hundred members in September 2001 become a transnational terror organization, even as the world's biggest military has targeted it for elimination?

According to my dissertation research on the resiliency of al-Qaida and the work of other scholars, the U.S. “war on terror" was the catalyst for al-Qaida's growth.

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Najibullah Zazi (Associated Press/Ed Andrieski)

The man who plotted to bomb New York City's subway system and then switched sides to help investigators may be released from prison in the next few days.

Najibullah Zazi, a would-be terrorist trained by al Qaeda bomb-makers, pleaded guilty in 2010 to three charges associated with a plan to detonate explosive in the NYC subway. He was, according to CNN, charged with conspiring to use weapons of mass destruction, conspiracy to commit murder in a foreign country and providing material support to a terrorist organization.

For his crimes, he was facing life in prison.

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The port side damage to the guided missile destroyer USS Cole is pictured after a bomb attack during a refueling operation in the port of Aden in this October 12, 2000 file photo. (Reuters/Aladin Abdel Nab)

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday prevented American sailors injured in the deadly 2000 al Qaeda bombing of the Navy destroyer USS Cole from collecting $314.7 million in damages from the government of Sudan for its alleged role in the attack.

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A view shows Sharara oil field near Ubari, Libya, July 6, 2017. Picture taken July 6, 2017. (Reuters/Aidan Lewis)

CAIRO (Reuters) - The U.S. military denied on Thursday taking part in a raid on an al Qaeda site in the Libyan city of Ubari, contradicting a statement by a Libyan official.

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Guantánamo prisoner Abd al Hadi al Iraqi, who says his true name is Nashwan al Tamir, poses for the International Red Cross in a 2014 photo taken for his family, and provided by his attorneys.

GUANTANAMO BAY NAVY BASE, Cuba — The Pentagon is shipping a handicapped-accessible cell big enough to accommodate a hospital bed and wheelchair that, in a first, would let an accused war criminal live at the court during proceedings as he tries to recover from multiple spinal surgeries.

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Editor's Note: This article originally appeared on Radio Free Europe/Radio Free Liberty.

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