Tag Archives: terrorism

“War” in West Africa?

Scanning the headlines, it would seem that war was all the rage this past week in West Africa. It began last Saturday in Paris, where the leaders of five West African countries—Nigeria, Niger, Cameroon, Chad, and even tiny Benin—confidently agreed … Continue reading

Posted in Boko Haram, Mali, Nigeria, terrorism, West Africa | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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

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

Book thoughts: “The Last Refuge: Yemen, al-Qaeda, and America’s War in Arabia” by Gregory Johnsen (2013)

Most counterterrorism wonks know the basic story of al-Qaeda’s rise: the brainchild of a rich and charismatic Saudi (Osama bin Ladin) and an Egyptian doctor-cum-theologian and terror organizer (Ayman al-Zawahiri); jihad against the Soviets in 1980s Afghanistan; the move to … Continue reading

Posted in Book reviews, Middle East and North Africa, terrorism, Yemen | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Lashkar-e-Jhangvi in Pakistan: the optimist and the pessimist

2013 got off to a horrid start in the Pakistani city of Quetta—long-known for being the suspected meeting place for the Afghan Taliban’s central leadership, in exile since the US invasion in 2001. On January and February, however, it was … Continue reading

Posted in Pakistan, South Asia, terrorism | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Mali: From forgotten lands to a blogger’s dream

The usually sleepy country of Mali, a landlocked country of 15 million people which before 2012 rarely graced the headlines, has in the past 10 months become a central focus with near-daily coverage in the American and European press. And … Continue reading

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