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.

See the country pages for further information on al Qaeda affiliates such as al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and al Shabaab.


Jabhat al Nusra and ISIS: Sources of Strength

American strategy toward ISIS has mis-identified the group’s center of gravity and is inadvertently strengthening al Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al Nusra.

Competing Visions for Syria and Iraq: The Myth of an Anti-ISIS Grand Coalition

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.

Al Qaeda and ISIS: Existential Threats to the U.S. and Europe

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.

U.S. Grand Strategy: Destroying ISIS and al Qaeda

By The Editors , January 20, 2016

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.

A Global Strategy for Combating al Qaeda and the Islamic State

By Mary Habeck, December 7, 2015

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.

San Bernardino Shooting a Terrorist Attack with al Qaeda and ISIS Footprints

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.

Al Qaeda Electronic: A Sleeping Dog?

By Eric Liu, December 2, 2015

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.

Al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent: Almost Forgotten

By Anurag Chandran, September 3, 2015

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.

The Khorasan Group: Syria's Al Qaeda Threat

By Katherine Zimmerman, September 23, 2014

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.

Competing Jihad: The Islamic State and al Qaeda

By Katherine Zimmerman, September 1, 2014

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.