Al Qaida

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  • Ayman al-Zawahiri and Osama bin Laden in Jamkha, Afghanistan, May 1, 1998, photo by Balkis Press/ABACA/Reuters

    Commentary

    The Question of Succession in Al-Qaida

    Two months after the death of al Qaida leader Aymin al-Zawahiri, experts continue to debate potential contenders for his replacement while waiting for al-Qaeda to make an announcement. A dark horse contender with long ties to Osama bin Laden could upend predictions and threaten to revive one of history's most lethal terrorist groups.

    Sep 29, 2022

  • A Taliban fighter stands guard near the site where Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri was killed in a U.S. strike over the weekend, in Kabul, Afghanistan, August 2, 2022, photo by Stringer/Reuters

    Commentary

    After the al-Zawahiri Strike, the U.S. May Lack Capabilities in Afghanistan

    The U.S. drone strike that killed al Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri in Afghanistan took out one of the last remaining key figures behind the 9/11 terror attacks. But it also highlighted how little the United States got out of its 2020 bargain with the Taliban, and raised questions about the U.S. ability to adequately monitor the developing threat from this quarter going forward.

    Aug 3, 2022

Explore Al Qaida

  • Personnel from the Iraqi security forces arrest suspected militants of the al Qaeda-linked Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant

    Commentary

    What Might Terrorists Do Next?

    No one can predict with any certainty what terrorists might do next. If there is one lesson America learned about counterterrorism on 9/11, it's that the coming attack may look nothing like those that preceded it.

    Feb 24, 2014

  • Afghan Uniformed Police and Afghan Border Police leading a presence patrol

    Commentary

    Train Afghans, Corral Al Qaeda: America's Enduring Mission in Afghanistan

    The mission of preventing al Qaeda from threatening the U.S. is an enduring one that will require a long-term commitment not just to counterterrorism, but to training, advising, and assisting Afghan forces so that they are better able to prosecute their own campaign against terrorists.

    Feb 11, 2014

  • Runners pass through scanners as they are checked by New York Police Department officers upon arrival for the New York City Marathon, November 3, 2013

    Testimony

    Back to the Future: The Resurgence of Salafi-Jihadists

    U.S. policymakers should be concerned about the number, size, and activity of al Qa'ida and other Salafi-jihadist groups. Some of these groups pose a direct threat to the U.S. homeland, embassies, and citizens overseas, while others are currently targeting local regimes.

    Feb 4, 2014

  • Masked Sunni Muslim gunmen take up positions with their weapons during a patrol in the city of Falluja

    Commentary

    Iraq Picture May Not Be as Bleak as It Seems

    Over the past month, al Qaeda affiliated Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has made a concerted effort to seize the Iraqi cities of Ramadi and Fallujah. The attacks have received a lot of attention, but ISIS does not represent a majority of Iraqi Sunni in Anbar. Many Sunni Anbari leaders continue to reject al Qaeda.

    Jan 31, 2014

  • Islamist Salafis in Jordan calling for the release of their groups held in Jordanian, Syrian, and Iraqi prisons

    Testimony

    The Extremist Threat to the U.S. Homeland

    U.S. policymakers should be concerned about the number, size, and activity of al Qa'ida and other Salafi-jihadist groups. Some of these groups pose a direct threat to the U.S. homeland, embassies, and citizens overseas, while others are currently targeting local regimes.

    Jan 15, 2014

  • Members of Islamist Syrian rebel group Jabhat al-Nusra man a checkpoint on the border crossing between Syria and Jordan

    Commentary

    Al Qaeda Is Down — Al Qaedism Isn't

    The counterterror campaign is a marathon run against a slowly declining revolutionary idea, al Qaedism, which will take many more years to stamp out fully. The U.S. should not lose sight of the fact that while 12 years of counterterrorism efforts have helped keep it safe, many more years of vigilance lie ahead.

    Jan 6, 2014

  • A suspected al Qaeda militant holds his head as he stands with co-defendants behind bars at the state security court of appeals in Sanaa March 2013

    Q&A

    Whither al Qaeda: A 'Tri-alogue' with Brian Michael Jenkins, Seth Jones, and Andrew Liepman

    Recent comments by key U.S. lawmakers have again raised the issue of where the United States is in its campaign against al Qaeda. This has left some to wonder if the terrorism threat is increasing and if Americans are not as safe as they were a year or two ago. Three senior RAND analysts offer their take.

    Dec 10, 2013

  • Soldiers quickly walk to the ramp of the CH-47 Chinook cargo helicopter that will return them to Kandahar Army Air Field.

    Blog

    Seth Jones and Keith Crane: Afghanistan After the Drawdown

    The United States should maintain roughly 8,000–12,000 troops in Afghanistan after 2014 to manage the complex political, security, and economic challenges that will accompany the reduction in forces, say Seth Jones and Keith Crane.

    Nov 27, 2013

  • Afghan President Hamid Karzai attends the last day of the Loya Jirga, in Kabul November 24, 2013

    Commentary

    Just Ignore Karzai and Press On

    As important as a bilateral security agreement is to formalize America's long-term presence in Afghanistan. The current draft doesn't spell out the details of a U.S. military presence after 2014, including the size, composition, and strategy of U.S. forces. Those details are what matter most.

    Nov 26, 2013

  • A Free Syrian Army fighter inspects a resident's identification papers at the Karaj al-Hajez crossing

    Testimony

    The Role of Terrorism and Terror in Syria's Civil War

    The growing role of jihadist elements, with their numbers increasing through the recruitment of foreign fighters and defections from other rebel groups, has divided the Syrian rebel movement and discouraged anti-Assad governments in the West from providing significant military support.

    Nov 20, 2013

  • People hold posters of senior al Qaeda figure Abu Anas al-Liby during a demonstration over his capture by U.S. authorities

    Commentary

    How War on Terrorism Has Evolved

    Special operations to capture terrorists are more dangerous than drone strikes, and nimble terrorist adversaries will develop countermeasures to make them even more difficult. But they are politically more acceptable and offer opportunities for intelligence and the visible delivery of justice.

    Oct 24, 2013

  • The opening of the 1st Afghan National Army Special Operations Brigade, Aug. 20, 2013

    Commentary

    The Future of Counterterrorism: Fewer Drones, More Partnerships

    Drones are just one of three principal U.S. counterterrorism tools. Special Operations forces are now relying on a more balanced mix of tactics: Launching raids and developing partner forces offer more versatility than drone strikes and will probably become the wave of the future as America's big wars wind down.

    Oct 21, 2013

  • Free Syrian Army fighters prepare homemade bombs in the Aleppo district of Salaheddine September 30, 2013

    Commentary

    Syria As We Know It Is Gone

    Other than as a geographic expression, Syria has ceased to exist, writes Brian Michael Jenkins. With Russian, Iranian, and Hezbollah support, Bashar Assad's forces, at the moment, appear to have gained the initiative over a fragmented rebel movement.

    Oct 16, 2013

  • Testimony

    The Terrorist Threat from Al Shabaab

    At the moment, al Shabaab does not appear to be plotting attacks against the U.S. homeland but there are several reasons why America should still be concerned. Its terrorist attack at Westgate Mall in Kenya and its follow-up attacks are a stark reminder that the Somalia-based group remains lethal.

    Oct 3, 2013

  • Somali National Army soldiers stand at attention in a training camp

    Commentary

    A Threat to U.S. Interests in East Africa

    The Shabab terrorist attack at Westgate Mall in Kenya and its follow-up attacks in the country are a stark reminder that the Somalia-based group poses a threat to the United States and its interests in East Africa, writes Seth G. Jones.

    Oct 2, 2013

  • French nationals Philippe Verdon and Serge Lazarevic are being held hostage in Mali by Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM)

    Report

    North Africa's Menace: AQIM's Evolution and the U.S. Policy Response

    Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb is an amorphous, resilient, and adaptive terrorist organization that has shown extraordinary staying power in the face of counterterrorism operations. The United States should not be the tip of the spear in efforts against AQIM, except in cases involving a direct and imminent threat to the U.S. homeland.

    Sep 9, 2013

  • The flag of Lebanese militant group Hezbollah waves in a photo taken in Sept. 2005.

    Blog

    Al Qaeda, Hezbollah on the Verge of Sectarian War in Lebanon

    Tensions between rival militant groups al Qaeda and Hezbollah have reached a fever pitch following bombings at two mosques in Lebanon, making a bloody sectarian conflict an increasingly real possibility.

    Aug 30, 2013

  • Afghan al Qaeda members captured in Decemeber 2001

    Commentary

    What Would al Qaeda's PowerPoints Say?

    Over the last 12 years, the campaign against al Qaeda has dominated U.S. policy. From this perspective, al Qaeda has been a beneficiary of the Arab uprisings in general and of recent events in Egypt and Syria in particular. The longer the turmoil continues, the greater al Qaeda's possible gains, writes Brian Michael Jenkins.

    Aug 23, 2013

  • Call with the Experts

    Multimedia

    Hill Staff Conference Call on Changes in Egypt and Syria

    RAND terrorism expert Brian Michael Jenkins discusses the current unrest in Egypt and Syria and what benefits that may provide al Qaeda.

    Aug 22, 2013

  • Call with the Experts

    Multimedia

    The Middle East and North Africa

    RAND experts Brian Michael Jenkins and Dalia Dassa Kaye discuss current events in the Middle East and North Africa. Their discussion with RAND Media Relations Director Jeffrey Hiday includes how changes in Egypt, Iran, and Syria are reverberating within the region, and beyond, via terrorist networks including al Qaeda.

    Aug 20, 2013