Foreign Policy Research Institute A Nation Must Think Before it Acts Senior Fellow Barak Mendelsohn Cited in The National Interest on Al Qaeda’s Growth

Senior Fellow Barak Mendelsohn Cited in The National Interest on Al Qaeda’s Growth

Senior Fellow Barak Mendelsohn Cited in The National Interest on Al Qaeda’s Growth


The National Interest

Al Qaeda sought to expand its organization into new geographic locations following the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in late 2001, which was followed by a decade-long American counterterrorism offensive relying on drone strikes and special operations forces. Al Qaeda’s first franchise group was established in Saudi Arabia in 2003, followed by affiliates in Iraq (2004), Algeria (2006), Yemen (2007), Somalia (2010) and Syria (2012). As Al Qaeda expert Barak Mendelsohn detailsthe group expanded in two ways—establishing its own branch via “in-house” expansion, as it did in Saudi Arabia and Yemen, or merging with existing terrorist groups, as it did in Iraq, Algeria and Somalia.

Terrorist groups seek new affiliates for a variety of reasons, including to expand in scale and scope; to take advantage of and harness local expertise; to foster and diffuse innovative tactics, techniques and procedures; and to increase the group’s legitimacy where it might otherwise be viewed skeptically as a foreign entity.

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