A cabal is a secret plot, or a small group of people who create such a plot. Some conspiracy theories are based on the idea that governments worldwide are in the hands of a powerful cabal.
Cabal comes from the word cabbala (also spelled kabbala), which refers to a Jewish tradition of interpreting texts. Cabbala is often regarded as a secret and mystical practice and, as such, the word took on the additional meaning of “secret behavior.” Cabal comes from this sense of the word. A well-known cabal in 17th-century England was coincidentally made up of five members whose names’ initial letters spelled the word cabal. (Their names were Clifford, Arlington, Buckingham, Ashley, and Lauderdale.)