Category Archives: Al Qaeda

A divorce years in the making: Al Qaeda and the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS)

The tendency in international affairs after a dramatic event is to hastily address the question of “what does it mean?”—as if the event represents a pivotal turning point that bends an otherwise steady trend line. Such is the case after … Continue reading

Posted in Al Qaeda, Iraq, Middle East and North Africa, Syria, terrorism | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Benghazi whodunit: the curious case of Sufian bin Qumu

The same week that the State Department blacklisted three different but identically-named armed groups in North Africa as Foreign Terrorist Organizations, two conflicting reports—a Washington Post story and a New York Times article one day apart—resurrected a related, highly charged … Continue reading

Posted in Al Qaeda, Libya, Middle East and North Africa, terrorism | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

After Westgate, assessing a terrorist group’s “strength,” “weakness,” and strategy

One of the principal analytical errors committed by journalists and “experts” in international affairs is to hastily transform a singular data point into a “trend.” A case in point: after the recent, horrible terrorist attacks at the Westgate Shopping Center … Continue reading

Posted in Al Qaeda, East Africa, Kenya, Somalia, terrorism | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Book thoughts: “Invisible Armies: An Epic History of Guerrilla Warfare from Ancient Times to the Present” by Max Boot (2013)

Max Boot’s recent book, Invisible Armies, takes an interesting dive into history to extract lessons from past wars—though of a different kind than we are used to reading about in textbooks. Boot’s gargantuan volume (567 pages, plus another 150 of … Continue reading

Posted in Al Qaeda, Book reviews, General, terrorism | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Al Qaeda’s Gamble in Mali

A few years from now, when the first full-length book on Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) is written (any takers?), how will it characterize the group’s recent adventure in Mali? My bet: Mali will be described as a … Continue reading

Posted in Al Qaeda, Algeria, Mali, Middle East and North Africa, terrorism, West Africa | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

March Madness at Notes on the Periphery!: Part 1 (Europe and the Middle East)

It’s mid-March. Those of you in the United States know what that means: it’s time for the most exciting three weeks of the year—NCAA college basketball’s final tournament. Each year, 68 college teams (annoyingly bumped up from 65 a few … Continue reading

Posted in Al Qaeda, Algeria, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Balkans, Caucasus, Cyprus, Egypt, Europe, Georgia, Iraq, Kosovo, Libya, March Madness, Middle East and North Africa, North Caucasus, Northern Ireland, Saudi Arabia, territorial disputes, terrorism, Tunisia, Turkey, Western Sahara, Yemen | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments