Hamid Mir

In the years since Sept. 11, 2001, understanding the Al Qaeda organization—its strategy, ideology and leadership structure—has become a major preoccupation of both scholars and security specialists. Policymakers and legal scholars have debated what legal tools and tactics we should and should not use to defeat the organization. And as the long war that began on 9/11 drags on, defining which precise individuals and groups constitute the group and its allies remains one of the most crucial questions national-security lawyers have to address.

Latest in Al-Qaeda


Al-Qaeda Today, 18 Years After 9/11

Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared on Order from Chaos.

Eighteen years after the 9/11 attacks, the al-Qaeda organization that carried them out is a shell of its previous self. The global campaign against Osama bin Laden’s creation has achieved notable success. The ideas that inspired bin Laden and his followers have lost some, but not all, of their attractiveness. There is no place for complacency, but the threat is different.

Foreign Policy Essay

Al-Qaeda’s Continuing Challenge to the United States

Editor’s Note: To the surprise of many observers, the al-Qaeda core under Ayman al-Zawahiri has not launched a major terrorist attack in the West for years, and the rise of the Islamic State seemed to signal the group’s further decline. Asfandyar Mir of Stanford argues that this lack of focus is a mistake. He contends that al-Qaeda remains resilient and that the group continues to pose a major terrorism threat.

Daniel Byman


Foreign Policy Essay

Threat Analysis and Multilateral Counterterrorism

Editor’s Note: The United Nations can play an important role in counterterrorism, but it often fails to deliver. Much of the UN’s effort is channeled through the 1267 Committee, which designates terrorist groups and coordinates financial restrictions against them. Barak Mendelsohn, a professor at Haverford College and author of the forthcoming book “The al-Qaeda Franchise: The Expansion of al-Qaeda and Its Consequences,” dissects the 1267 Committee, describing its limits and explaining why it has underperformed.


The Lawfare Podcast

The Lawfare Podcast: Gregory Johnsen Answers "What is a Houthi?"

On this week’s Lawfare Podcast, Gregory Johnsen outlines the current state-of-play in Yemen. Johnsen, who is a writer-at-large for Buzzfeed News, a doctoral candidate at Princeton University, and an all-things-Yemen-expert, walks Ben through the byzantine power politics in Sanaa that led to the conflict now engulfing Yemen and he explains why the war shouldn’t be viewed as just another Sunni-Shia fight.

Foreign Policy Essay

Should the United States Negotiate with Terrorists?

Editor’s Note: No one wants to give terrorists even a shred of legitimacy through negotiations, but even hardline counterterrorist countries like Israel have at times recognized the need to cut a deal with their enemies. This issue has come up again and again for the United States, particularly as it searches for allies in Syria: Some of the most effective forces against the Assad regime and the Islamic State are those of the Nusra Front (Jabhat al-Nusra), an al-Qaida affiliate.

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