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Confronting al-Qaeda: Understanding the Threat in Afghanistan and Beyond: Congressional Testimony
Marc Sageman (au)
Testimony of Marc Sageman, a Foreign Policy Research Institute senior fellow, to provide a better understanding of the threat confronting our homeland security in order to “disrupt, dismantle, and eventually defeat al Qaeda and its allies.” He conducted a comprehensive survey of all the al Qaeda plots in the West, all the al Qaeda affiliate plots in the West and all the plots done “in the name of al Qaeda” in the West since the formation of al Qaeda in August 1988. It is necessary to expand our inquiry because al Qaeda is now only one of the many actors in this global neo-jihadi terrorist threat against the West. He calls it neo-jihadi because the terrorists have appropriated this contested concept to themselves much to the protest of respected Islamic scholars and the mainstream Muslim communities worldwide. Terrorism for the purpose of this project is the use of violence by non-state collective actors against non-combatants in the West in pursuit of a self-appointed global jihad. Sageman conducted this survey when he spent a year at the U.S. Secret Service and an additional year at the New York Police Dept. as its first scholar-in-residence. He limited his inquiry to violent plots to be executed in the geographical territory of the West -- North America, Australia and Western Europe -- with the exception of the civil war in the Balkans since terrorism is often a tactic of war, but wartime terrorism may not teach us much about terrorism during peace time. To be included in the survey, each plot had to have some loose operational or inspirational link to al Qaeda or its affiliates; it had to reach a certain level of maturity, characterized by overt acts in furtherance; it consisted of violent acts targeting people in the West, and therefore excluded cases of purely financial or material support for terrorist acts committed elsewhere; some planning had to be done in the West; and terrorists had to initiate the plot. Sageman included both successful and unsuccessful plots. The global neo-jihadi terrorist threat includes plots under the control of al Qaeda core; al Qaeda affiliates like the Algerian Groupes Islamiques Armes (GIA), Pakistani Lashkar e-Toyba (LT), the Uzbek Islamic Jihad Union (IJU), the Pakistani Tehrik e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP)…; and threats by autonomous groups inspired by al Qaeda like the Dutch Hofstad group. He excluded lone wolves, who were not physically or virtually connected to anyone in the global neo-jihad, for they often carry out their atrocities on the basis of delusion and mental disorder rather than for political reasons. Graphs.
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