Journal Cover Perspectives on Terrorism
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  This is an Open Access Journal Open Access journal
   ISSN (Print) 2334-3745 - ISSN (Online) 2334-3745
   Published by U of Massachusetts Homepage  [17 journals]
  • Welcome from the Editors

    • Authors: The Editors
      PubDate: 2017-12-18
      Issue No: Vol. 11 (2017)
       
  • Thirty Years After its Foundation - Where is al-Qaida Going'

    • Authors: Anne Stenersen
      Abstract: Al-Qaida today is commonly labelled a ‘global insurgency’ or ‘global franchise.’ However, these labels are not sufficient if we want to understand what kind of threat al-Qaida poses to the West. Al-Qaida is better described as a revolutionary vanguard, engaged in a perpetual struggle to further its Salafi-jihadi ideology. Its strategy is flexible and opportunistic, and the organization uses a range of tools associated with both state and non-state actors. In the future al-Qaida is likely to treat international terrorist planning, and support to local insurgencies in the Muslim world, as two separate activities. International terrorism is currently not a prioritised strategy of al-Qaida, but it is likely to be so in the future, given that it manages to re-build its external operations capability.
      PubDate: 2017-12-18
      Issue No: Vol. 11 (2017)
       
  • Revisiting al-Qaida’s Foundation and Early History

    • Authors: Leah Farrall
      Abstract: This article examines the early rise and fall of al-Qaida from its emergence in early 1987 as a splinter group of Maktab al-Khadamat through to its organisational decline following the defeat of the Arab-Afghans at the 1989 Battle of Jalalabad. Drawing from first-hand accounts and primary materials, it contributes a history of al-Qaida’s first stage of development and identifies the factors that drove the organisation’s early growth and decline. The article finds that two factors were crucial to al-Qaida’s early growth: battlefield success and access to combat opportunities for volunteer youths. It determines that al-Qaida’s defeat at Jalalabad and bin Laden’s ordered withdrawal from combat were the cause of its near terminal decline. The article concludes by outlining that the bitter lesson al-Qaida took from its early history was that to attract and retain a significant number of youths, it must appear victorious in battle, and be able to provide access to combat opportunities.
      PubDate: 2017-12-18
      Issue No: Vol. 11 (2017)
       
  • Al-Qaida and the Pakistani Harakat Movement: Reflections and Questions
           about the pre-2001 Period

    • Authors: Don Rassler
      Abstract: There has been a modest amount of progress made over the last two decades in piecing together the developments that led to creation of al-Qaida and how the group has evolved over the last 30 years. Yet, there are still many dimensions of al-Qaida that remain understudied, and likely as a result, poorly understood. One major gap are the dynamics and relationships that have underpinned al-Qaida’s multi-decade presence in Pakistan. The lack of developed and foundational work done on the al-Qaida-Pakistan linkage is quite surprising given how long al-Qaida has been active in the country, the mix of geographic areas - from Pakistan’s tribal areas to its main cities - in which it has operated and found shelter, and the key roles Pakistani al-Qaida operatives have played in the group over the last two decades. To push the ball forward and advance understanding of this critical issue, this article examines what is known, and has been suggested, about al-Qaida’s relations with a cluster of Deobandi militant groups consisting of Harakat ul-Mujahidin, Harakat ul-Jihad Islami, Harakat ul-Ansar, and Jaish-e-Muhammad, which have been collectively described as Pakistan’s Harakat movement, prior to 9/11. It finds that each of these groups and their leaders provided key elements of support to al-Qaida in a number of direct and indirect ways.
      PubDate: 2017-12-18
      Issue No: Vol. 11 (2017)
       
  • The Jihadi Social Movement (JSM): Between Factional Hegemonic Drive,
           National Realities, and Transnational Ambitions

    • Authors: Jerome Drevon
      Abstract: This article analyses the evolution of the jihadi social movement (JSM) in changing environmental and factional circumstances. The author argues that internationalist groups like al-Qaida and Islamic State seek to become hegemonic in the JSM vis-à-vis nationally focused jihadis. Yet hegemony is associated with changing modes of organisation that can weaken centralised organisational control and exacerbate internal divisions. Moreover, the post-2011 expansion of Islamist local governance presents new expectations that jihadi groups set up local structures of governance, which can alter their internal dynamics and cannot endure as long as their allegiance to internationalist groups remains. This analysis illustrates the prospective choices of the components of the JSM.
      PubDate: 2017-12-18
      Issue No: Vol. 11 (2017)
       
  • Jihadi Competition and Political Preferences

    • Authors: Tore Hamming
      Abstract: While known and feared as the most dangerous global jihadi group, since 2014 al-Qaida has only been involved in one attack in the West. In the same period, al-Qaida’s renegade affiliate and current competitor, the Islamic State, has organised or taken responsibility for as many as 38 attacks, thus legitimately positioning itself as the primary threat against the West and pioneer of the global jihad movement. This article argues that the contestation and competition that emerged between the two groups as a result of their split in February 2014 is part of the explanation of the dramatic change in the enemy hierarchy, or political preferences, of the two most dominant Sunni jihadi groups. Furthermore, the article explains how the inter-group competition also prompted the definition of other jihadi actors, identified as the internal enemy, into the enemy hierarchy of al-Qaida and the Islamic State, although to a different extent.
      PubDate: 2017-12-18
      Issue No: Vol. 11 (2017)
       
  • The Spread of its Message: Studying the Prominence of al-Qaida Materials
           in UK Terrorism Investigations

    • Authors: Donald Holbrook
      Abstract: Al-Qaida emphasises its ability to communicate its core message to those who might be sympathetic towards the group and its aims. Yet we have little sense of how this relationship, between al-Qaida as messenger, and potential sympathisers as message recipients, unfolds, especially in the West. To shed light on this question, this article analyses evidential materials from police counterterrorism investigations in the UK, exploring the way and extent to which al-Qaida-related materials have featured. The analysis identifies al-Qaida as one of the more prominent groups responsible for content found in these investigations but emphasises the overall heterogeneity of the extremist Islamist media content that has been discovered. The analysis also illustrates the importance of English-language content for this particular audience and the ability of prominent ideologies, especially Anwar al-Awlaki, to retain popularity and influence beyond his grave.
      PubDate: 2017-12-18
      Issue No: Vol. 11 (2017)
       
  • Islamic State and Technology – A Literature Review

    • Authors: Truls Hallberg Tønnessen
      Abstract: This article offers an overview of the literature on how the Islamic State has used different technologies, primarily within the fields of drone technology, CBRN and communication technology. The author argues that the primary strength of the Islamic State, and terrorist groups in general, is not in the acquisition and use of advanced technology, but the innovative and improvised use of less advanced, but easily accessible, technology. A gap identified in the existing research is the question of priority – why and under what circumstances would a terrorist group allocate some of its (usually) limited resources in order to develop or acquire new technological capabilities'
      PubDate: 2017-12-18
      Issue No: Vol. 11 (2017)
       
  • Islamic State and Al-Nusra: Exploring Determinants of Chemical Weapons
           Usage Patterns

    • Authors: Geoffrey Chapman
      Abstract: This article seeks to examine the determinants of use and non-use of chemical weapons between two typologically similar non-state actors. By comparing the differing patterns of chemical weapons usage exhibited by the Islamic State and Al-Nusra against commonly offered variables for drivers of non-state actor CBRN usage, it will be determined that they both share the ability to conduct basic chemical weapons attacks and have the same retaliatory and theological justifications to do so. However, the essential difference between the two groups that provides an explanation for the difference in chemical weapons usage can be found in the constraints (or lack thereof) imposed by their respective strategies. The formation of these approaches by their precursor organisations combined with their prior CBRN behaviour will provide further evidence to this conclusion.
      PubDate: 2017-12-18
      Issue No: Vol. 11 (2017)
       
  • Al-Qaida’s Complex Balancing Act in Syria

    • Authors: Charles Lister
      Abstract: Over the years, al-Qaida has become an increasingly decentralized movement in which its geographically dispersed affiliates have assumed increasing levels of autonomy over their tactical and strategic decision-making. At the outset of the Arab Spring, al-Qaida was also undergoing a process of strategic rethinking, in which more locally sensitive and nationally grounded methods of operating were being encouraged as more effective paths towards durable jihadi projects. The Arab Spring itself also presented al-Qaida and its affiliates with opportunities to tie themselves more deeply into a collective sense of change across the Middle East. It was in Syria that this evolved level of thinking found itself most efficiently realized, as Jabhat al-Nusra sought to implement a modus operandi that was based on integrating and embedding itself into the Syrian revolutionary milieu through a combination of cooperation and [short-term] pragmatism. Jabhat al-Nusra’s embrace of this new model of jihad brought it substantial benefits, but as time passed, it also posed new challenges. By embracing localism so wholeheartedly over al-Qaida’s traditional internationalist agenda, Jabhat al-Nusra struggled to sustain the trust of its members who expected a truly fundamentalist face to eventually emerge. Moreover, despite its strong localist focus, too many Syrians still distrusted the group because of its continued links to a globalist jihadist movement. Jabhat al-Nusra therefore sought to differentiate itself from ISIS and was also forced to distance itself from al-Qaida, which set in motion a series of events that challenged the group’s successors’ - Jabhat Fateh al-Sham (JFS) and Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) - internal unity and external credibility. It therefore appears that although HTS in 2017 maintains a potentially protectable base in northwestern Syria, the challenges that its unique strategy presented forced it to act in ways that undermined much of the sustainability progress it had made in previous years. Whether the group’s long game strategy of controlled pragmatism could be said to have been a success is therefore an open question.
      PubDate: 2017-12-18
      Issue No: Vol. 11 (2017)
       
  • Success for al-Qaida in Syria'

    • Authors: Aymenn al-Tamimi
      Abstract: This article considers how far one can describe al-Qaida’s experiences in Syria as a success. A common line of analysis has been that al-Qaida has been playing a more successful long-term game in Syria as opposed to its more aggressive rival, the Islamic State. This article examines that argument more closely through exploring the nature of the relationship between al-Qaida and Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham, the latest successor initiative to the original Syrian al-Qaida affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra. The author considers the viability of Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham’s project and the future of al-Qaida in Syria, reaching a negative long-term prognosis.
      PubDate: 2017-12-18
      Issue No: Vol. 11 (2017)
       
  • The Strategic Logic of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham

    • Authors: Sam Heller
      Abstract: This article lays out the key events leading up to, and the strategic thinking behind, the 2017 emergence of Syrian insurgent group Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (the Body for the Liberation of the Levant), the latest iteration of Syria’s former al-Qaida affiliate Jabhat al-Nusrah. To frame that strategic logic, it employs political scientist Peter Krause’s Movement Structure Theory, which posits that national movements led by a single hegemonic group tend to be more successful. For definitional reasons, Krause’s theory likely does not have predictive utility in the case of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, which is to some extent transnational and thus governed by different motivations and rules. Still, Krause’s theory nonetheless provides a useful lexicon to describe the insurgency in Syria’s north-west and the rationale for Hayat Tahrir al-Sham’s hegemonic dominance of that insurgency as the group has itself articulated it. The article also briefly evaluates Hayat Tahrir al-Sham’s apparent prospects, as of November 2017, and their implications for the broader applicability of Krause’s theory.
      PubDate: 2017-12-18
      Issue No: Vol. 11 (2017)
       
  • Downplaying Jihad in Jordan’s Educational Curriculum, 2013- 2017

    • Authors: Kirk Sowell
      Abstract: The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan is often thought of as a relatively liberal Muslim country - the quintessential “moderate Arab Muslim ally”. However, Jordan has paradoxically made a disproportionate contribution to the phenomenon of modern Islamist terrorism, both in terms of leading figures and foot soldiers. On a per capita basis, Jordan has made a very strong contribution to terrorist groups such as al-Qaida and Islamic State. Jordan is also a country which from its foundation has had a weak sense of identity. This article takes as its premise that Jordan’s own heavily Islamic, quasi-jihadist education system has aggravated the identity problem, making Jordan more vulnerable to recruitment. It examines three versions of the core curriculum Islamic studies textbook used in universities to both provide a baseline for how Islam is conceived and show that Jordanian authorities recognised that this was a problem. The textbook used up to 2014-2015 set forth a classical Islamic view of the role of the state and jihad as a means of expanding Islamic rule, a view much closer to the world view of al-Qaida than the modern Jordanian state. A new 2015-2016 edition made substantial changes, de-emphasizing jihadist-friendly teachings. A 2017-2018 edition has completed the transformation, finally bringing the university Islamic curriculum in line with the “tolerant, moderate” vision Jordan’s leaders espouse.
      PubDate: 2017-12-18
      Issue No: Vol. 11 (2017)
       
  • Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb and the Dilemmas of Jihadi Loyalty

    • Authors: Jean-Pierre Filiu
      Abstract: In a decade-long of activities, Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) has nurtured a unique mix of global and local jihadism. It has kept a distinctively Algerian leadership through all its various evolutions. But the Algerian field commanders in the Sahara region, far beyond the Algerian borders, have taken over the global dimension of jihadi projection from the AQIM leadership still holed up in Kabylia. The feud between the two main Sahara commanders aggravated the complexity of those shifting loyalties, first, inside AQIM, and second, with their regional partners and, third, in relation with Al-Qaida Senior Leadership. The short-lived “Islamic Emirate” of Northern Mali (2012-2013) and the recent coalition of a “Group for the support of Islam and Muslims” have shown AQIM enter alliances on its own initiative, while pledging unconditional allegiance to Zawahiri.
      PubDate: 2017-12-18
      Issue No: Vol. 11 (2017)
       
  • Demystifying al-Qaida in Nigeria: Cases from Boko Haram’s Founding,
           Launch of Jihad and Suicide Bombings

    • Authors: Jacob Zenn
      Abstract: Boko Haram was ranked the world’s “most deadly” terrorist group in 2016 and the country where it primarily operates, Nigeria, was ranked the world’s third “most terrorised” nation in 2017. However, for such a significant militant group there is a dearth of research on Boko Haram using document analysis that can shed light on the inner workings and decision-making processes of the group’s leadership. Most researchers have instead examined structural factors in Nigeria to understand Boko Haram. This has led to an academic consensus that Boko Haram was originally peaceful and only marginally benefitted from its ties to al-Qaida - if at all. This article, in contrast, presents documents of the leadership of al-Qaida and Boko Haram that show early and continuing communications between Boko Haram and al-Qaida and al-Qaida had a significant impact on Boko Haram’s founding in 2002, launch of a jihad in 2009 and introduction of suicide bombings in 2011. In addition, the al-Qaida-trained militants in Boko Haram played a leading role in conquering territory in Nigeria in 2013, setting up a line of communication to Islamic State in 2014 and facilitating Boko Haram’s switch of allegiance and merger with Islamic State in 2015.
      PubDate: 2017-12-18
      Issue No: Vol. 11 (2017)
       
  • Al-Qaida’s Strategy in Libya: Keep it Local, Stupid

    • Authors: Rhiannon Smith, Jason Pack
      Abstract: This article looks at how al-Qaida-linked groups focus on the local struggle in Libya, how they have shaped their strategies and activities in the country, and what impact this has had on the communities where they are active. It explores how al-Qaida-linked groups have adapted their strategies differently in the eastern cities of Benghazi and Derna and draws out the main implications for Libya’s future and the future of al-Qaida-linked groups in Libya. It argues that in Libya, al-Qaida-linked groups have done a better job than their ISIS-linked counterparts at staying rooted to local concerns, local actors, and evolving country dynamics, and that this has allowed them to mimic and replicate local and traditional power structures. The Libyan authorities’ failure to delegitimize the underpinning ideology of al-Qaida-linked groups, the normalization of violence and extremism within society, and a pervasive zero-sum mentality have all contributed to the longevity of these groups. The core conclusion is that the rise of Salafi-jihadism in Libya is a symptom of broader, deeper governance problems and that without sustained, unified political and social efforts to address these problems, al-Qaida-linked groups will continue to maintain a presence in the country.
      PubDate: 2017-12-18
      Issue No: Vol. 11 (2017)
       
  • Bibliography: Al-Qaeda and its Affiliated Organizations (Part 1)

    • Authors: Judith Tinnes
      Abstract: This bibliography contains journal articles, book chapters, books, edited volumes, theses, grey literature, bibliographies and other resources on Al-Qaeda and its affiliated organizations. Though focusing on recent literature, the bibliography is not restricted to a particular time period and covers publications up to early November 2017. The literature has been retrieved by manually browsing more than 200 core and periphery sources in the field of Terrorism Studies. Additionally, full-text and reference retrieval systems have been employed to expand the search.
      PubDate: 2017-12-18
      Issue No: Vol. 11 (2017)
       
  • Recent Online Resources for the Analysis of Terrorism and Related Subjects

    • Authors: Berto Jongman
      Abstract: The items included below became available online in September, October and November 2017.
      PubDate: 2017-12-18
      Issue No: Vol. 11 (2017)
       
  • About Perspectives on Terrorism

    • Authors: The Editors
      PubDate: 2017-12-18
      Issue No: Vol. 11 (2017)
       
  • Perspectives on Terrorism Vol 11, Issue 6

    • Authors: Various Authors
      Abstract: The whole issue of Perspectives on Terrorism.
      PubDate: 2017-12-18
      Issue No: Vol. 11 (2017)
       
 
 
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