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War, Will, and Warlords: Counterinsurgency in Afghanistan and Pakistan, 2001–2011

Since the September 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, the United States has been at war with Al-Qaida. Over the past 10 years, counterterrorism efforts have disrupted its main training facilities and eliminated much of the core leadership structure, including the mastermind Usama Bin Ladin. Despite this, Al-Qaida has proved resilient. While the core leadership has been compromised, regional Al-Qaida offshoots and affiliated Islamist terrorist groups have formed, developed, and become prominent in their own right.

To aid in examining and explaining Al-Qaida’s trajectory, the Minerva Initiative at Marine Corps University hosted a conference in the spring of 2011, just days before Bin Ladin’s demise. The panels at this conference addressed diverse issues such as Al-Qaida’s overarching strategy; the degree of control that central Al-Qaida leadership maintains over regional franchises; and the strategies, tactics, successes, and failures in each theater of operation. The resulting papers in Al-Qaida after Ten Years of War contribute to the ongoing and ever-evolving net assessment of Al-Qaida and its future prospects, and they help inform the crafting of a war termination phase with Al-Qaida.

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Al-Qaida after Ten Years of War

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Norman Cigar is director of regional studies and a Minerva Research Chair holder at Marine Corps University, Quantico, VA. Previously, he taught at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College and the Marine Corps School of Advanced Warfighting. He has served as a senior analyst in the Pentagon, where he worked in the Office of the Army’s Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence. He is author of numerous works on politics and security issues dealing with the Middle East and the Balkans and has been a consultant at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia at The Hague. His recent research has focused on jihadist thinking about unconventional war, and his recent publications include Al-Qa’ida’s Doctrine for Insurgency: ‘Abd Al-’Aziz Al-Muqrin’s A Practical Course on Guerilla War (2008). He holds a DPhil from Oxford; a Master of International Affairs degree from the School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University; and a Master of Science degree from the National Defense Intelligence College (formerly known as Joint Military Intelligence College).

Stephanie E. Kramer is the research assistant for the Minerva Initiative at Marine Corps University. Prior to joining the university, she worked as a research associate at the Congressional Research Service in the foreign affairs, defense, and trade division. She holds a bachelor’s degree in linguistics from the University of California, Santa Cruz, where she graduated summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa.



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