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Abstract

Five years after September 11, 2001, al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups continue to threaten the lives and well being of Americans and the security of our friends and allies. This study first examines how al-Qaeda has changed since September 11. It then turns to an analysis of the broader global jihadist movement — al-Qaeda and affiliated or associated terrorist groups or groups that may not be formally part of the al-Qaeda network but that have assimilated its worldview and concept of mass-casualty terrorist attacks. These groups, the authors believe, are where the center of gravity of the current global terrorist threat now lies. They conclude by setting out a four-pronged strategy against terrorist groups: Attack the ideological underpinnings of global jihadism; seek to sever the links — ideological and otherwise — between local and global jihadists; deny sanctuaries to terrorists; and strengthen the capabilities of front-line states to counter local terrorist threats.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter One

    Introduction

  • Chapter Two

    Al-Qaeda’s Ideology and Propaganda

  • Chapter Three

    Strategy, Structure, and Operational Evolution

  • Chapter Four

    Al-Qaeda’s Finances

  • Chapter Five

    Al-Qaeda’s Operational Planning Cycle

  • Chapter Six

    The al-Qaeda Nebula

  • Chapter Seven

    South Asian Clusters

  • Chapter Eight

    The Caucasus and Central Asia

  • Chapter Nine

    The North and East African Clusters

  • Chapter Ten

    The Al-Zarqawi Network: Jordanian and Iraqi Jihadis

  • Chapter Eleven

    The Southeast Asian Cluster

  • Chapter Twelve

    Conclusions and Recommendations

Book Review Excerpts

"In addition to examining the evolution of al-Qaeda since 11 September 2001, the authors outline the threat posed by al- Qaeda affiliates and other groups that share its worldview and operational goals. They conclude with a four-pronged strategy to defeat terrorist groups. [In part 2] the authors profile major 'independent' terrorist organisations — both Islamist and non-Islamist — around the world, and offer strategies that could be used to prevent their destructive activities."

- Survival, August-September 2008

"The RAND Corporation… has provided an excellent two volume analysis [to defeating al-Qaeda]. The first volume looks at the ideology of the movement, its tactics, finances, and the 'nebula' of al-Qaeda that includes local affiliate groups from Southeast Asia, South Asia, North Africa, the Caucasus, and of course, Iraq… This volume covers the al-Qaeda phenomena in a competent and comprehensive way… [The two volumes] are sober, evenhanded, and worthwhile reads."

- Middle East Quarterly, Spring 2008

"'Know your enemy' is as foundational a military maxim as there is, yet it can be surprisingly difficult to get military and policy communities to focus on the nature of the adversary with meaningful depth or breadth…. With this in mind, one can only praise RAND: Project Air Force for the publication of the two-book set Beyond al-Qaeda… a current, thoroughly researched, and accessible analysis of the adversaries and potential adversaries in the WOT… Those looking to get a sense of the landscape, to better understand the full range of the al-Qaeda or terrorist threat, or in need for professional reasons of an accessible, encyclopedic reference on modern terrorist groups are well served by Beyond al-Qaeda."

- Strategic Studies Quarterly, Fall 2007

"While few Americans had heard of Osama Bin Laden prior to September 11th, 2001, the United States learned the full extent of al Qaeda s hatred for America on that fateful day. Since then, much has changed in the global terrorism environment and there are many more groups both Muslim and non-Muslim - that would harm the US if they had the chance. This study examines potential threats to the US emanating from al Qaeda, al Qaeda-inspired groups, groups without links to al Qaeda, and the nexus between terrorism and organized crime. All of these potential threats must be taken seriously and the authors identify unique strategies to deal with each."

- Journal of Counterterrorism and Homeland Security International, Fall 2007

"…For a reader seeking a description of al-Qaeda's history, structure, financing, tactics, and evolution, this work provides a concise explanation of these key elements of the terrorist network. It is free of unnecessary and confusing jargon and accessible to students at any level… While the first part focuses on al-Qaeda, as the title suggests, the second part examines the multitude of Islamist, left-wing, and right-wing terror groups around the world. Part 2 clearly shows that al Qaeda is but one of many. Readers will find this work useful in developing a general understanding of al-Qaeda and the terror nexus that is the focus of the current global war on terror. Summing Up: Recommended. All readership levels."

- Choice Magazine, May 2007

The research described in this report was sponsored by the United States Air Force and conducted by RAND Project AIR FORCE.

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