Al Qaeda and Associated Movements (AQAM)
In this section, the Critical Threats Project details the ideological foundations [Basics] and the region-by-region outlook [Theaters of Jihad] of al Qaeda and Associated Movements (AQAM), which refers to the al Qaeda network led by Osama bin Laden and other, potentially operationally disconnected, violent Islamist groups.
IN THIS SECTION
Al Qaeda never stopped planning attacks against the US even when it was prioritizing the local fights and working within local dynamics. The group seeks to lead a global insurgency, rooted in these local fights, that it will take to the West.
Economic protests resembling those that sparked the 2010 Jasmine Revolution are spreading throughout Tunisia and may grow into nationwide civil unrest, providing an opportunity for Salafi-jihadi groups to attack government or economic targets.
The US and its partners need to renew their efforts to counter al Qaeda in the Sahel or risk AQIM developing a latent threat capability that may be directed against the US homeland or interests with little to no warning.
ISIS is developing the ability to conduct a low-level insurgency in Tunisia. Its presence in neighboring Algeria and Libya, and now on the ground in Tunisia, strengthens the group.
The Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham and al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb are competing to be the dominant Salafi-jihadi group in Algeria.
American strategy toward ISIS has mis-identified the group’s center of gravity and is inadvertently strengthening al Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al Nusra.
The superficial convergence of Iranian, Russian, Turkish, and Saudi strategic objectives with those of the U.S. on ISIS as a threat masks significant divergences that will undermine U.S. security requirements.
ISIS and al Qaeda pose an existential threat to the U.S. and Europe because they accelerate the collapse of world order, provoke domestic and global trends that endanger American values and way of life, and plan direct attacks against the U.S. and its partners.
The Institute for the Study of War and the Critical Threats Project conducted an intensive multi-week exercise to frame, design, and evaluate potential courses of action that the United States could pursue to defeat the threat from the Islamic State in Iraq and al Sham (ISIS) and al Qaeda in Iraq and Syria. View the findings of this exercise.
Although the ongoing US-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria demonstrate increased American resolve, the United States needs a new strategy to stop ISIS, al Qaeda, and affiliated groups: a counterinsurgency with ideological, security, diplomatic, economic, and political components.