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  • Author: Katherine Zimmerman
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: Sahel-based Salafi-jihadi groups including al Qaeda and the Islamic State coordinate and cooperate across organizational divides united by common objectives, shared histories, and ethnic ties, creating a unique ecosystem of ideology and terror. The Salafi-jihadi ecosystem in the Sahel is strengthening rapidly. The number of attacks will continue to rise and will become deadlier as groups’ capabilities improve. The groups’ coordinated effort to transform Sahelian society and governance into their vision under Islam has helped destabilize the region and has created additional opportunities for Salafi-jihadi growth.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Defense Policy, Non State Actors, Al Qaeda, Islamic State, Salafism, Jihad
  • Political Geography: Middle East, North Africa, Sahel
  • Author: Katherine Zimmerman
  • Publication Date: 10-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: The US is losing against al Qaeda, the Islamic State, and other like-minded groups, which are all part of the Salafi-jihadi movement. US counterterrorism efforts have made Americans safer, but the Salafi-jihadi movement is more than its terrorism threat. That movement now prioritizes developing its relationships with local Sunni communities, from which it draws its strategic strength, to transform the Muslim world. Winning today means adopting a strategy beyond counterterrorism that will defeat the Salafi-jihadi movement, instead of just countering the terrorism threat. The US must reframe its approach against al Qaeda, the Islamic State, and other groups. With the help of partners, the US must sever the ties of the Salafi-jihadi movement to local Sunni communities. America and its allies must offer these communities a viable alternative to these terror groups.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Defense Policy, Terrorism, Al Qaeda, Islamic State, Salafism, Islamism
  • Political Geography: Middle East, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Michael Rubin
  • Publication Date: 05-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: The Trump administration’s Afghanistan strategy repeats mistakes made by the Clinton and Obama administrations. The Taliban repeatedly fail to keep diplomatic commitments. Treating the Taliban as independent from Pakistani command-and-control will undercut the utility of any peace deal struck with the Taliban. Diplomatic outreach and Taliban empowerment are directly proportional. The Afghan perception of Special Envoy Zalmay Khalilzad is colored heavily by a personal history about which many in Washington, DC are unaware.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Taliban, Al Qaeda
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, Afghanistan, South Asia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Katherine Zimmerman
  • Publication Date: 06-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: Successes on the battlefields against al Qaeda, the Islamic State, and other like-minded groups have not led to their defeat or permanently reduced their threat to the United States. The deterioration of conditions in the Muslim world has made communities vulnerable to and created opportunities for the Salafi-jihadi vanguard to develop local ties. The reliance of the Salafi-jihadi movement on its relationship with Sunni communities to strengthen and expand beyond ideological supporters is a key vulnerability. The US should reorient its efforts to focus not only on disrupting and preventing active terror plots as a national security priority but also on severing the relationships the Salafi-jihadi movement has formed with Sunni communities.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Terrorism, Military Strategy, Al Qaeda, Islamic State
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Katherine Zimmerman
  • Publication Date: 11-2018
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: The Salafi-jihadi movement shifted to prioritizing local over global objectives during the Arab Spring. Analysts wrongly understood this as a weakening of the groups. Groups have hidden their true nature by hiding their ties to global jihadi groups, such as al Qaeda and the Islamic State, and by rebranding and reorganizing on the ground. Movement leaders design and execute attacks in ways that create doubt and ambiguity about the responsible party. This new technique exploits US counterterrorism policy, which is not designed to pursue anyone other than the individuals directly responsible for the attack. American officials are countering a dynamic enemy with an irrelevant and outdated strategy.
  • Topic: Counter-terrorism, Al Qaeda, Islamic State, Salafism, Arab Spring, War on Terror, Sunni, Jihad
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Iraq, Middle East, Libya, Yemen, Syria, North America, Arabian Peninsula