Nusra fighting Islamic State

Jabhat Fateh al-Sham: Al-Qaeda’s Ace in Syria Rebranded

On July 28, 2016 Jabhat al-Nusra declared that it was rebranding itself Jabhat Fateh al-Sham. This maneuver was announced by the group’s commander Abu Muhammad al-Jolani, who in a spirit of apparent transparency revealed his identity after years of anonymity, dressed as and quoting Osama bin Laden. The decision is a significant shake up within the Syrian[…]


Al-Qaeda’s Jabhat al-Nusra: “Nice and Respectable” Jihadism

“So it looks like gold. It looks beautiful from the outside, but on the inside, it is nothing.” – “Gold Plated Attraction”  (Al-Qaeda’s view of ISIS)   J.M Berger’s recent article in the Atlantic, ISIS Is Not Winning the War of Ideas, correctly asserts that Islamic State ideology does not have mass appeal. If it[…]


Barbarians at the Gate: ISIS, Al-Qaeda and India

On September 3rd, Ayman al Zawahiri, the leader of Al Qaeda Central (AQC) announced the establishment of a new branch: al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS). Zawahiri, often described as “long on words and short on charm”  delivered a characteristically ambling and inchoate message. He explained how the new group was the “blessed result”  of[…]


Al-Qaeda Contra the “Caliphate:” A Guide for the Perplexed

The public discourse about transnational jihadist organizations indiscriminately lumps together al-Qaeda, its forerunners (such as the Taliban), affiliates (such as Jahbat al-Nusra), its derivatives (such as Ansar al-Sharia or the Islamic State), and even groups which have no strong connection to al-Qaeda or such as Hamas, Hezbollah, or local tribal militants. It is not just[…]


Sectarian Jihad: A Confusing New Fashion

On December 10, 2013, Foreign Policy Magazine reported that the number of foreign fighters participating in the fight against Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad has eclipsed the number of jihadists who fought side-by-side in Afghanistan in the 1980s. “At this rate,” according to Foreign Policy’s Thomas Hegghammer, “the foreign fighter flow into Syria looks set to[…]


The Middle East & North Africa: Hat Tricks, Power Plays, and Penalties

With 2013 drawing to a close, the MENA region is a volatile mix of peace plans, war strategies, identity consolidation, and individual displacement As the conflict in Syria continues in its third year, the possibility of peace remains uncertain.  With the addition of actors from all over the region and no clearly defined single agenda, the war[…]


The Syrian Conflict – An Unnatural Resource

Participation in the Syrian Conflict, albeit token, provides the Tehrik-i-Taliban with important symbolic and material resources. Crisis creates opportunity. The chronic instability, governance vacuums, and bitter fighting characterizing large swaths of Syria has provided some Islamist militant groups a highly-public platform to reap the spoils of conflict. The participation of groups like the Islamic State of[…]

Guantanamo Sept  11 Trial

Regaining Legality: The Rendition Of Abu Anas Al-Libi

After 12 years of war, it is temping to interpret the increased use of drones in the U.S. counterterrorism campaign as a sign that officials now prefer to kill terror suspects rather than risk lives detaining them. These days, nostalgic interrogators and analysts see drone strikes as the new paradigm in counterterrorism, one with a[…]


Al-Qaeda Loyalists and U.S. Troops Together At Last in the Sinai

The New Venue For War-on-Terror Ground Combat? The Egyptian central government in Cairo has suffered another heart attack with the ousting of ex-President Muhammad Morsi. His economic ineptitude and political cliquishness notwithstanding, the premature removal of a democratically elected Muslim Brother has given al-Qaeda ideologues in Egypt precisely the leverage needed to once again raise[…]


A Holy Alliance in Syria Threatens Wholesale U.S. Support for Opposition Forces

The Enemy of my Enemy is still my Enemy As early as last December 2012, U.S. diplomats active in Syria have prescribed caution in treating Syrian rebels fighting the oppressive regime of Bashar al-Assad as friendly to the United States. While the axiomatic “enemy of my enemy” cliché has been an antiquated notion since the[…]

That Haven-Hopping Al-Qaeda Finds a Viable Landing Pad in the Sinai

What the vacuous security situation means for Egypt, her neighbors, and the U.S. As U.S. drone strikes and targeted killings in states like Pakistan and Yemen continue to make life for terrorists there less and less sustainable, the ethereal group of Islamic Salafists who self-identify as al-Qaeda seem to be adapting to this new brand[…]


Somalia continues to show signs of recovery, but will it last?

The country of Somalia has been synonymous with the term “failed state” for decades.  Operating without an effective or legitimate government since 1991, it has been a long journey back to normalcy and though it’s not quite there yet, it seems to be on its way.  Somalia remained at the mercy of warlords fighting each[…]

yemen flag

Blowback nothing?

Colin Owens Christopher Swift’s article “Strikes in Yemen Aren’t Pushing People to Al Qaeda” (July 2012) draws conclusions about the expanded U.S./Yemen drone program in Yemen, including signature strikes, based on interviews concerning a different and limited Yemen campaign. While the article argues that al-Qaeda recruitment in Yemen is largely driven by economics, and that[…]


Recent Protests: The Innocence of US Mainstream Media

The same old song and dance replays: why do they hate us? On Thursday, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney acknowledged that the attack on the US consulate in Libya on the anniversary of 9/11 was likely a premeditated terror attack. Witnesses present at the scene told CBS News that there was never an anti-American[…]


Al-Qaeda’s Renaissance: The Arab Spring and the New Mujahadeen

Musa al-Gharbi Following the military coup which removed Hosni Mubarak, it was widely reported that al-Qaeda was rendered obsolete by the Arab Spring. Fareed Zakaria, for instance, pronounced: “The Arab Revolts of 2011 represent a total repudiation of al Qaeda’s founding ideology. For 20 years, al Qaeda has said that the regimes of the Arab[…]

Don’t forget about it

Iraqi protesters send back the latest order of Freedom Fries

 It’s hard to believe now that that the 2008 Democratic primary election was largely decided based upon the Iraq War voting record of two candidates.  Since then US involvement in the Land of Two Rivers has largely faded from American public discourse.  With revolutionary change[…]