As the third anniversary of the US raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, approaches, the West faces an increasingly difficult threat from al Qaeda. On Thursday, AEI’s Mary Habeck discussed her recently published report addressing US national security policy and al Qaeda since 2011.
Habeck stressed that a coherent and successful strategy depends on the US understanding who the al Qaeda enemy is and what its objectives are. She underscored that al Qaeda no longer only refers to those who participated in 9/11, but is instead an insurgency with worldwide linkages and concrete aims. Katherine Zimmerman of AEI added that because al Qaeda is an adaptive force, it necessitates an adaptive policy that critically assesses actions of leadership groups.
Georgetown University’s Bruce Hoffman noted that al Qaeda is expanding geographically, meaning that the struggle against terrorism cannot be wished away. AEI’s Frederick W. Kagan likewise underscored the common and dangerous trend of groups affiliating with al Qaeda for money and resources, which helps expand its web of influence. Participants concluded that this influence may be lessened by reassessing our definition of al Qaeda, understanding its objectives, and developing a flexible national security policy.
Has the United States gotten any closer to defeating al Qaeda in the three years since the US raid on Abbottabad and death of Osama bin Laden? Who exactly is the enemy we’re targeting?
On April 24, AEI will host a luncheon event to discuss why we’re not seeing lasting success against al Qaeda. This event will coincide with the release of a new report by AEI’s Mary Habeck, which analyzes why current national security policy is failing to stop the advancement of al Qaeda and its affiliates and what the US can do to develop a successful strategy to defeat this enemy.
If you are unable to attend, we welcome you to watch the event live on this page. Full video will be posted within 24 hours.
Lunch and Registration
Mary Habeck, AEI
Bruce Hoffman, Georgetown University
Katherine Zimmerman, AEI
Frederick W. Kagan, AEI
Event Contact Information
For more information, please contact Heather Malacaria at [email protected], 202.862.5942.
Media Contact Information
For media inquiries, please contact [email protected], 202.862.5829.
Mary Habeck is a visiting scholar at AEI and a senior fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute. Previously, she was an associate professor of strategic studies at the Johns Hopkins Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), where she taught courses on military history and strategic thought. Before joining SAIS, Habeck taught American and European military history at Yale University. From 2008 to 2009, she was the special adviser for strategic planning on the National Security Council staff. Appointed by former president George W. Bush, she served on the National Council on the Humanities from 2006 to 2013. In addition to books and articles on World War I, the Spanish Civil War, and al Qaeda, Habeck’s publications include “Knowing the Enemy: Jihadist Ideology and the War on Terror” (Yale University Press, 2005) and three forthcoming sequels: “Attacking America: Al Qaeda’s Grand Strategy” (Basic Books, 2015), “Managing Savagery: Al Qaeda’s Military and Political Strategies” (2016), and “Fighting the Enemy: The US and Its War against al Qaeda” (2017).
Bruce Hoffman is the director of the Center for Security Studies, director of the Security Studies Program, and a tenured professor at Georgetown University’s Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service. He previously held the corporate chair in counterterrorism and counterinsurgency at the RAND Corporation and was director of RAND’s Washington, DC, office. Hoffman also served as RAND’s vice president for external affairs from 2001 to 2004 and as acting director of RAND’s Center for Middle East Public Policy in 2004. From 2004 to 2006, he served as a scholar in residence for counterterrorism at the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and as an adviser on counterterrorism to the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq’s Office of National Security Affairs. Hoffman is a senior scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, senior fellow at the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point, visiting professor at the Institute for Counter-Terrorism at the Interdisciplinary Center in Israel, and visiting professor at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore. A recipient of the United States Intelligence Community Seal Medallion, Hoffman has conducted fieldwork on terrorism and insurgency in Afghanistan, Argentina, Colombia, India (Kashmir and Assam), Indonesia, Israel, Iraq, Northern Ireland, Pakistan (North West Frontier Province), the Philippines (Mindanao), Palestine (the West Bank and Gaza Strip), Sri Lanka, and Turkey. He is a contributing editor to The National Interest and author of “Inside Terrorism” (Columbia University Press, 1998).
Frederick W. Kagan is the Christopher DeMuth Chair and director of the Critical Threats Project at AEI. In 2009, he served in Kabul, Afghanistan, as part of General Stanley McChrystal’s strategic assessment team, and he returned to Afghanistan in 2010, 2011, and 2012 to conduct research for Generals David Petraeus and John Allen. In July 2011, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen awarded him the Distinguished Public Service Award, the highest honor the chairman can present to civilians who do not work for the Department of Defense, for his volunteer service in Afghanistan. He is coauthor of the report “Defining Success in Afghanistan” (AEI and the Institute for the Study of War, 2010) and author of the series of reports “Choosing Victory” (AEI), which recommended and monitored the US military surge in Iraq. His most recent book is “Lessons for a Long War: How America Can Win on New Battlefields” (AEI Press, 2010, with Thomas Donnelly). Previously an associate professor of military history at West Point, Kagan is a contributing editor at The Weekly Standard and has written for Foreign Affairs, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, and other periodicals.
Katherine Zimmerman is a senior analyst and the al Qaeda and associated movements team lead for AEI’s Critical Threats Project. Her work has focused on al Qaeda’s affiliates in the Gulf of Aden region and associated movements in western and northern Africa. She specializes in the Yemen-based group, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, and al Qaeda’s affiliate in Somalia, al Shabaab. Zimmerman has testified in front of Congress and briefed members of Congress and congressional staff, as well as members of the defense community. She has written analyses of US national security interests related to the threat from the al Qaeda network for the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, CNN Global Public Square, and the Huffington Post, among others.