This plan was revealed to the world in 2005 by Jordanian journalist Fouad Hussein in his book Al-Zarqawi: al-Qaida's Second Generation. He had spent time in prison with Abu Musab al-Zarqawi (who went on to head up al-Qaeda in Iraq before his death in a U.S. bombing strike) and interviewed a wide range of al-Qaeda members.
The plan was questioned and belittled at the time, but the timeline has continued on track in various respects despite setbacks for al-Qaeda and other Islamists over the years.
Here are the steps as reported in a Der Spiegel article dated Aug. 12, 2005 (Yassin Musharbash, "The Future of Terrorism: What al-Qaida Really Wants"):
• "The First Phase . . . 'The awakening' . . . supposed to have lasted from 2000 to 2003, or more precisely from the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 . . . The aim of the attacks of 9/11 was to provoke the US into declaring war on the Islamic world and thereby 'awakening' Muslims . . . '. . . judged . . . as very successful . . . The Americans and their allies became a closer and easier target.'"
• "The Second Phase 'Opening Eyes' . . .  until 2006 [the period this report came out] . . . [making the West] aware of the 'Islamic community' . . . [and] recruiting young men during this period. Iraq [was to then] become the center for all global operations, with an 'army' set up there and bases established in other Arabic states."
• "The Third Phase . . . 'Arising and Standing Up' . . . from 2007 to 2010 [which was yet future when this was written]. 'There will be a focus on Syria' . . . The fighting cadres are supposedly already prepared and some are in Iraq. Attacks on Turkey and . . . in Israel are predicted . . . Countries neighboring Iraq, such as Jordan, are also in danger." (The focus on Syria should be noted, though it did not become a great rallying point until the Arab Spring came at the end of this period.)
• "The Fourth Phase Between 2010 and 2013 . . . al-Qaida will aim to bring about the collapse of the hated Arabic governments . . . '. . . lead[ing] to a steady growth in strength within al-Qaida' . . . [And] attacks will be carried out against oil suppliers and the US economy will be targeted using cyber terrorism." (Consider that the Arab Spring uprisings against various despots occurred in 2011-2012.)
• "The Fifth Phase This will be the point at which an Islamic state, or caliphate, can be declared. The plan is that by this time, between 2013 and 2016, Western influence in the Islamic world will be so reduced and Israel weakened so much, that resistance will not be feared. Al-Qaida hopes that by then the Islamic state will be able to bring about a new world order." (This is when a caliphate was declared, in 2014. The al-Qaeda old guard sees this as premature but still has a window of a few years.)
• The Sixth Phase . . . From 2016 onwards there will [be] a period of 'total confrontation.' As soon as the caliphate has been declared, the 'Islamic army' . . . will instigate the 'fight between the believers and the non-believers.'"
• The Seventh Phase . . . 'Definitive victory' . . . The rest of the world will be so beaten down by the 'one-and-a-half billion Muslims,' the caliphate will undoubtedly succeed. This phase should be completed by 2020, although the war shouldn't last longer than two years."
Whether the fifth and sixth phases pan out remains to be seen, but the seventh can't happen, as Bible prophecy makes it clear that Islam will not come to dominate the world (though not for lack of trying).
In any event, more attention should have been paid to what Fouad Hussein wrote nearly a decade ago. It demonstrates that Islamists take the long view, realizing it will take decades to attain their goals. This thinking is foreign to Western leaders, who in their shortsightedness have grossly misjudged what's been happening over the past many years.
[ See the related article: Islamic Caliphate Declared: What Does It Mean? ]