AEI Discussion Panel – My Take On Countering al Qaeda & Other Jihadis

Yesterday, I had the good fortune to participate in a debate on the state of al Qaeda, their future direction and how the U.S. might work to counter a plethora of jihadi groups around the world. Katie Zimmerman and Mary Habeck of AEI provided a great venue and discussion questions for a lively debate.

Here is the video, jump to the 5:45 mark to start watching the discussion.



  1. Excellent discussion and even a point made about climate change! A number of good points made on our “own goals” and info ops weaknesses.

    I do wonder today how much control and co-ordination exists within the variety of committed and accidental jihadist groups. If the pressure exerted by the counter-response, whether local, multinational and American, is kept up most will focus on survival and local actions – not the far enemy.

    Financing the jihad, as Will McCants reminds us, still appears to mainly come from certain Gulf states, notably Kuwait – a country that owes its freedom to the ‘coalition of the willing’. Would they really continue to fund either AQ-Central or ISIS if they attacked Israel or Saudi Arabia?

  2. While I absolutely agree that there are far more pressing concerns for the U.S. and world as a whole than terrorism, I firmly disagree on your assessment that the “ideology stuff is nonsense.” This seems to suggest that you believe CT analysts and experts should refrain from prioritizing ideology as a major factor in “understanding what is AQ” or the overall Islamist terrorist threat, when, given the current fractured state of the global Sunni jihadist milieu, ideology is the common denominator amongst most of the current splinters, offshoots, and official as well as unofficial affiliates. In fact, the ongoing debates amongst these jihadists occurring on social media and the Islamic forums largely focus on ideology-related matters such as the manahaj and discussions of recent and past religious edicts given by the leaders or theologians. Granted local agendas, targeting priorities, and domestic factors may take precedent on the immediacy of the tactics employed by specific terrorist organizations, however the ultimate overarching ideological agenda of all these “AQ-linked” groups remains the same. Essentially, despite ideology being “malleable” it still exists as one of the main focal points of the post-9/11 internecine fissures within the global Sunni jihadist milieu and will still act as the fundamental justification for continued terrorist operations against both internal and external enemies……That being said, keep up the great work as I thoroughly enjoy following your research.

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