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
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.
The San Bernardino shooting of December 2, 2015 was a terrorist attack conducted by perpetrators inspired by the Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham (ISIS) and possibly linked with and inspired by al Qaeda. The U.S. must expect that both groups will devote even greater resources to encouraging and supporting such attacks here and in Europe now that their feasibility has been demonstrated in both regions.
Cyber warfare is a natural arena for al Qaeda. It allows a small number of covert and dispersed individuals to inflict disproportionate damage on a much stronger adversary.The only hacking collective claiming affiliation with the group is al Qaeda Electronic, which was formed only this year and has shown limited and rudimentary capabilities.
Its been one year since the establishment of al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS). Al Qaeda’s newest affiliate is still emerging, but may not develop into the regional force waging jihad that Zawahiri envisioned.
Eight U.S. strikes targeted the Khorasan group west of Aleppo in Syria on September 22. Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby confirmed that the Khorasan group, which is tied to al Qaeda, was “planning imminent attacks” against targets that included the U.S. homeland. The al Qaeda threat growing in Syria is now realized.
The Islamic State’s success is energizing the entire global jihadist movement, including al Qaeda, to compete with one another in violent conquest and terror. The U.S. must act decisively for the danger is clear and present.