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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U.S. Marine MV-22 Ospreys, assigned to the Ridge Runners of Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 163 (VMM-163)(Reinforced), prepare to takeoff from the flight deck of the amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island (LHD 8) in support of a helo-borne raid during Exercise Alligator Dagger, in the Gulf of Aden, Dec. 21, 2016. (U.S. Marine Corps/Lance Cpl. Brandon Maldonado)

WASHINGTON — The House on Thursday cleared a historic measure ordering the president to end military operations in Yemen, the first time lawmakers have gone this far in trying to end a foreign military campaign since the Vietnam era.

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President Donald Trump has ramped up airstrikes against al-Shabab in Somalia. (Associated Press/Farah Abdi Warsameh)

The U.S. military could be guilty of war crimes in Somalia, according to a new report that challenges what the government says about civilian casualties from its bombing campaign against al-Shabab, an al-Qaida affiliate, in the African nation.

The investigation, conducted by Amnesty International, found that US airstrikes from both drones and manned aircraft killed at least 14 civilians and injured seven more people in just five of more than 100 strikes in the past two years.

"The attacks appear to have violated international humanitarian law, and some may amount to war crimes," the Amnesty report said.

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Smoke rises from the last besieged neighborhood in the village of Baghouz, Deir Al Zor province, Syria March 17, 2019 (Reuters)

BAGHOUZ, Syria (Reuters) - Falling bombs raised smoke over Islamic State's last enclave in east Syria on Sunday, obscuring the huddle of vehicles and makeshift shelters to which the group's self-declared "caliphate" has been reduced.

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An Iraqi security forces member provides security near a patrol base in Mosul, Iraq, June 22, 2017. (U.S. Army/Cpl. Rachel Diehm)

MOSUL, Iraq — It was after dark Wednesday when three buses pulled out of Mosul and headed southeast on a desolate desert road. The passengers were government-backed paramilitary fighters.

The city lights were well behind them when the convoy came under attack. By the time the shooting stopped, six paramilitary members were dead and 31 wounded.

Iraqi authorities quickly identified the culprit: Islamic State.

The attack, one of the deadliest since Iraq declared military victory over the extremist group in December 2017, was the clearest sign yet that the war isn't over.

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Republican Sen. Rand Paul thinks it's finally time to bring the 17-year-old military campaign in Afghanistan to a close — and that veterans of the Global War on Terror should get a fat stack of cash for their sacrifices.

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