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It made al-Qaeda the new Mafia or the new Communists.
It made them identifiable as a group and therefore made it easier to prosecute any person associated with al-Qaeda for any acts or statements made by bin Laden.
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.
As Salafist jihadists, they believe that the killing of non-combatants is religiously sanctioned, but they ignore any aspect of religious scripture which might be interpreted as forbidding the murder of non-combatants and internecine fighting.
Many terrorism experts do not believe that the global jihadist movement is driven at every level by al-Qaeda's leadership.
According to author Robert Cassidy, al-Qaeda controls two separate forces deployed alongside insurgents in Iraq and Pakistan.
The first, numbering in the tens of thousands, was "organized, trained, and equipped as insurgent combat forces" in the Soviet-Afghan war.