Chibok girls' abduction by terrorist group Boko Haram

Terrorists use affiliates to remain relevant.

Al-Qaida Expands its Reach

July 2014, Number 05.03

“Assessing al-Qaida’s health is not easy. On one hand, the United States’ drones regularly kill al-Qaida’s leaders, and the group has not pulled off a successful attack in the West since the London bombings of July 2005. On the other hand, al-Qaida controls territory across the Middle East and Africa and still has a significant presence in the world.

It can be equally difficult to define how exactly the group operates. As the American Enterprise Institute’s Katherine Zimmerman recently wrote, al-Qaida “relies on secrecy to survive. Even al-Qaida members are confused about each other’s status. … The covert nature of the network intentionally obscures many relationships.” Therefore, analyzing how al-Qaida operates is not only a challenge for the intelligence community and policymakers, it is also a challenge for group members themselves...”

Excerpt from Robin Simcox, “Al-Qaida Expands its Reach,” per Concordiam: Journal of European Security Defense Issues  5, No. 3, 2014: 14-19.

Robin Simcox is a research fellow at the Henry Jackson Society in London. Earlier, he worked in the same capacity at the Centre for Social Cohesion in the United Kingdom. His specialties include terrorism and national security — specifically al-Qaida and its affiliates, terrorism trends and legislation, and state responses to nonprosecutable national security threats. He holds a master’s in U.S. foreign policy from the Institute for the Study of Americas, University of London, and a bachelor’s from the University of Leeds.

This article reflects the views of the author and are not necessarily the official policy of the United States, Germany, or any other governments.