Congressional Briefing - July 29, 2008

How Terrorist Groups End: Lessons for Countering al Qa'ida

al Qa'ida


Seth Jones


Tuesday, July 29, 2008


2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.


210 Cannon House Office Building
Washington, D.C.

About the Program

RAND Political Scientist Seth Jones will present findings from a new RAND publication, How Terrorist Groups End: Lessons for Countering al Qa'ida to a Congressional audience. Co-author Martin Libicki will be present to participate in the question & answer period.

All terrorist groups eventually end. But how do they end? Answers to this question have enormous implications for dealing with al Qa'ida and suggest fundamentally rethinking post–September 11 U.S. counterterrorism strategy.

The evidence since 1968 indicates that most groups have not ended due to military pressure but because (1) they joined the political process or (2) local police and intelligence agencies arrested or killed key members and that few groups achieved victory within this timeframe.

The ending of most terrorist groups requires a range of policy instruments, such as careful police and intelligence work, military force, political negotiations, and economic sanctions. Yet policymakers need to understand where to prioritize their efforts with limited resources and attention.

About the Speaker

Seth Jones

Seth Jones is a Political Scientist at RAND and an Adjunct Professor at Georgetown University's Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service. He has focused on counterinsurgency and counterterrorism missions, including U.S. operations in Afghanistan, for the U.S. Department of Defense. His books include "In the Graveyard of Empires: America's War in Afghanistan" (W.W. Norton, forthcoming), as well as "The Rise of European Security Cooperation" (Cambridge University Press, 2007). He has published a range of journal articles in International Security, The National Interest, Security Studies, Chicago Journal of International Law, International Affairs, and Survival, as well as such newspapers and magazines as The New York Times, Newsweek, Financial Times, and International Herald Tribune. He received his MA and PhD from the University of Chicago.

RAND Office of Congressional Relations

For 60 years, RAND has provided policymakers with independent, objective research and analysis on key national security, domestic and international issues. RAND work helps members of Congress and their staffs make better-informed decisions on the nation's pressing challenges. The Office of Congressional Relations offers a number of products and services to educate, inform, and facilitate congressional policymakers' access to RAND work, including coordinating congressional testimony by RAND experts, organizing briefings and meetings, synthesizing RAND work into topical e-newsletters and providing reports and publications to congressional offices. For more information, visit the Office of Congressional Relations webpage, contact or call (703) 413-1100 x5395.

Further Inquiries

For further information about this event, contact the Office of Congressional Relations at or call (703) 413-1100 x5395.