Expert Commentary

Al Qaeda: Quietly and Patiently Rebuilding

December 30, 2016 | Bruce Hoffman
 

As ISIS incurs the firepower of the international community, al Qaeda has quietly rebuilt its resources, rebranded itself, and “rehabilitated its image” explains terrorism expert Bruce Hoffman. In an October interview with The Cipher Brief, Hoffman said al Qaeda has been “maneuvering to affect some kind of a forced merger or a takeover or even a voluntary amalgamation with ISIS” and the merger of both groups “would be very dangerous, especially if al Qaeda got their hands on ISIS’ external operations network in Europe.”

The Cipher Brief: What is your overall assessment of the current state of core al Qaeda and its affiliates? Is the group’s strength in its core or in its affiliates around the globe?

Bruce Hoffman: I’d say it’s in both. Al Qaeda has succeeded in preserving its strength in a number of different venues. In many cases it has expanded, certainly in Syria and Yemen. Over the past four years, it has created al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent and has taken advantage of opportunities across that region. So in many respects, it is far from a dying enterprise.

TCB: Is the connection between core al Qaeda and its affiliates more of an ideological link or are there actual transfers of money and messages?

BH: There is certainly overall strategic guidance that the core provides its affiliates, and that has existed for years. The affiliates generally conform with al Qaeda leader Ayman al Zawahiri’s overall strategic vision and general goals for the organization.

I would say that al Qaeda’s main achievement over the years has been that it has rehabilitated its image, and it’s been very deft at using the global opprobrium of ISIS to burnish al Qaeda’s credentials and to portray itself as a more moderate, acceptable alternative to ISIS – especially at a time of continued, acute sectarianism, al Qaeda has been able to portray itself as a credible defender of embattled Sunnis everywhere.  One sees this especially in Syria and Libya and also to an extent in Yemen and elsewhere.

TCB: We’ve seen core al Qaeda beaten back and ISIS emerge in the spotlight of the global jihadist movement. After ISIS, perhaps a new and more deadly group could emerge in its place. Is this a pattern we will have to live with for the foreseeable future or could al Qaeda reemerge as it has rebranded itself?

BH: ISIS isn’t going to die with its defeats in Mosul or even in Raqqa. It will exist at some level, somewhere if only by reverting to form as a pure terrorist entity. But I think al Qaeda has positioned itself to emerge from ISIS’ ashes with the potentiality, as I have long argued, for a merger or forced amalgamation of the ISIS rumps that survives the current multi-national onslaught. Al Qaeda has been maneuvering to affect some kind of a forced merger or a takeover or even a voluntary amalgamation with ISIS once the overall ISIS organization is catastrophically weakened.

This strategy benefits al Qaeda on a number of levels. It positions itself once again as the vanguard of the Salafi-jihadi ideology and most effective exponent and protector of its constituents, and it would be able to assert control and discipline over what is increasingly seen as a wayward renegade and undisciplined force that has been the architect of its own demise through over-expansion and excessive brutality.

And it’s also a reflection of al Qaeda’s current trajectory and new-found embrace of governance of populations and territorial control. Years ago, al Qaeda wasn’t interested in holding territory or exercising sovereignty over a population. It left that to other affiliated or allied groups. But because of the competition from ISIS, al Qaeda has become much more involved in state-building and in behaving less like a terrorist group and more like a political entity. This was of course bin Laden’s dream shortly before his killing, as we know from the Abbottabad files.

TCB: Has al Qaeda’s rebranding helped increase the group’s influence?

BH: Yes. They are now well positioned to become more influential. Part of al Zawahiri’s strategy has been to hold back, sit tight and to very quietly re-build al Qaeda, while ISIS makes all the noise, gets all the attention, and sucks up all the counterterrorism energy and oxygen throughout the world. Al Qaeda has been consistently playing a much longer game, I believe, and has been very careful about not playing its hand until al Zawahiri believes the timing is right.

We know that al Qaeda is consciously re-building, and it’s also strengthening its combat capabilities, particularly in Afghanistan. Exactly one year ago, one of the largest arms facilities and weapons caches was discovered in the Shorabak district near Kandahar, which included acres and acres of weaponry and of concrete reinforced revetments – something on the order of what bin Laden was building in Afghanistan before 9/11.  Given how extensive the Shorabak facility was, I believe that it was emblematic of al Qaeda’s quiet, behind the scenes marshalling of its resources to resume its struggle. And I suspect that’s not the only such facility in Afghanistan, thus evidencing al Qaeda’s pretensions to once again become a decisive force in that country’s fortunes.

TCB: Last year, you wrote an article for us about al Qaeda’s grand strategy and the group’s 20-year plan to achieve global domination. Has al Qaeda stayed the course on its strategy?

BH: It’s been slightly delayed because the fifth phase, which was the phase of the declaration of a caliphate, was meant to last from 2013-2016, and clearly ISIS beat them to it. Hijacking al Qaeda’s seven-stage plan to victory, first articulated by senior al Qaeda commander, Saif al-Adl in 2005, was clearly behind ISIS leader Abu Bakr al Baghdadi’s declaration of a caliphate all of a sudden in June 2014. So al Qaeda has clearly fallen behind in the implementation of this multi-stage strategy, but I think al-Zawahiri is confident that things will still unfold in a manner beneficial to al Qaeda. It is still, maybe not exactly positioned in the fifth phase, but the group is certainly strengthening itself so that when the time is right, it can emerge from the shadows and re-assert itself at the vanguard of the Salafi-jihadi terrorist movement.

I think al-Zawahiri is a patient enough strategist that he understands that sometimes time-tables have to be adjusted due to unforeseen developments, such as ISIS’ mercurial emergence, which caught al Qaeda as off-balance as it did everyone else.

Nonetheless, what I find so worrisome is that al Qaeda is hunkered down while we’ve focused on ISIS. Al Qaeda has been quietly and patiently rebuilding and repositioning itself to once again get on track with that strategy when the time is right.

TCB: Is this strategy being employed just by core al Qaeda or also by the entire al Qaeda network?

BH: The entire network. Al Qaeda has always pursued a dual track strategy. It’s never been an either/or – it works to both strengthen its affiliates in its various far-flung outposts and also to ensure their adherence to a strategic plan defined by al Qaeda core.

But that’s exactly the problem. Jabhat Fatah al-Sham, formerly Jabhat al-Nusra, is clearly in ascendance where ISIS is in decline. Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) has certainly been holding on to the territory it seized over the past four years or so. And al Qaeda has certainly expanded in South Asia, in places such as Bangladesh and the Maldives, where there previously was little to no al Qaeda presence or influence, and is already repositioning itself in Afghanistan.

Unfortunately, in a number of different venues, including where al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) operates, the group has also benefitted greatly from ISIS’ depredations in Libya and has been part of the force that has been weakening and displacing ISIS in that country.

In all of al Qaeda’s main theatres, very unfortunately and tragically, it is gaining credibility and gaining respect, and amassing additional power at a time when we thought we could just write off al Qaeda as having strategically collapsed, if not decisively defeated.

TCB: The U.S. continues to kill top AQ leaders, but it seems as though they are constantly replaced. How effective has the strategy of leadership decapitation been?

BH: Just the description of al Qaeda as a viable force at the end of 2016 evidences that while the target strikes have been an effective tactic, as a strategy in terms of destroying al Qaeda, it alone hasn’t succeeded. It’s weakened al Qaeda, and it’s knocked al Qaeda off-balance in serial fashion, but again, for the past few years, our attention has been riveted on ISIS, and we have been less concerned with al Qaeda. The unfortunate confluence of events is that al Qaeda has taken advantage of that preoccupation to rebuild and prepare itself to carry on this struggle against the U.S., the West, and its regional satraps as envisioned by bin Laden exactly 20 years ago.

The bottom line is, I don’t see al Qaeda’s struggle ending any time soon, and I worry that because of these factors, the threat from al Qaeda will continue to manifest itself for some period of time in the near future. All terrorist organizations pursue a strategy of attrition: of resurrecting themselves from the ashes of near-defeat to continue to prosecute their campaigns and thereby undermining the resolve and determination of their enemies. Al Qaeda is following precisely such a strategy – refusing to collapse and disappear despite our most optimistic hopes and assessments.

TCB: Could the removal of al Qaeda leader Ayman al Zawahiri have significant ramifications for the organization?

BH: Possibly, but the problem is that even as we’ve eliminated a lot of the senior leadership, old, battle-tested and time-proven leaders, such as Sayif al-Adl, have reentered the mix. Another leader, Hamza bin Laden, is viewed as an heir. Clearly killing al-Zawahiri would weaken the group and knock it off-balance, in the same way that killing bin Laden right after 9/11 might have signaled the death of al Qaeda. Bin Laden’s death was of course a serious blow to the organization but, as we have seen the past five years, not a grievous one.  I almost think that now, even taking out al-Zawahiri after all of the time that has passed would not fulfill that objective. He’s likely deliberately put into place a strategic vision and a means to achieve it that would outlive him.

This is similar to Anwar al-Awlaki, whose propaganda efforts outlived him in a way that no one expected. You still see from al Qaeda’s perspective a gift that keeps on giving, in terms of al-Awlaki, from his grave, continuing to animate, inspire, and motivate radicalized individuals. I almost feel that in al Qaeda’s case, both the foundation bin Laden gave it and then the strategic vision that al-Zawahiri put into place over the past five years, means that this is potentially something that goes beyond one or two individuals. Their strategic vision has accordingly now been embedded into the movement itself.

TCB: What more can be done as part of the strategy to combat the al Qaeda network?

BH: First and foremost, it is countering al Qaeda’s attempts to revive its military strength in Afghanistan, because that will be the fulcrum, I would argue, that it is going to use to enhance its credibility and to demonstrate its continued vitality and relevance. Afghanistan has become almost a backwater in the war on terrorism and has become forgotten as a central historical element in al Qaeda’s DNA and memory and will thus emerge as a crucial battleground for the group in the coming months and years.

Secondly, it’s understanding that Jabhat Fatah al-Sham is just a rebranding of al Qaeda, which is something bin Laden also talked about six years ago. It’s not a meaningful split, and it’s understanding the danger that it poses in supplanting and replacing ISIS as the preeminent military force in the Levant.  ISIS had military capabilities that in many respects eclipsed many of those of the local and regional militaries. Al Qaeda is poised to supplant ISIS in that manner and indeed sees itself as assuming that mantle. If there is a hostile takeover or a forced merger, where ISIS amalgamates with al Qaeda, al Qaeda’s military capabilities will thus be enhanced.  In sum, the threat from al Qaeda in the Levant is just as pernicious as the one from ISIS.

These two groups differ more in tone and style, than in substance and significance. But because of ISIS’ horrific depredations, there are those across the region who now see al Qaeda and groups aligned with al Qaeda as a more “moderate” alternative, which is something that we have to actively push back against to prevent any possibility of a merger or leaving ISIS in any meaningful shape that could affect al Qaeda’s designs and enhance al Qaeda’s power should it absorb whatever is left of ISIS following its defeat.

TCB: What is the potential for ISIS-al Qaeda merger? Are the two groups completely separate or could they unite?

BH: I never think they are completely separate. Neither are monolithic organizations. Of course, ISIS was created with many senior al Qaeda operatives, and many of them still remain very sympathetic to the parent organization – the more so as ISIS continues to weaken and al Baghdadi’s ambitious strategy fails.

I think especially as ISIS’ fortunes continue to decline, there is going to be a hard core of ISIS people who see the only salvation of their movement and the only way to carry on the struggle will be by making common cause with al Qaeda. It’s not that this is a certitude, but the possibility is quite strong. It is always there and is always something that we have to guard against and not dismiss. It may ebb and flow in probability, but it is still there and alive among a hardcore of ISIS fighters who increasingly see no alternative to some modus vivendi with al Qaeda.

A combined force would be very dangerous, especially if al Qaeda got their hands on ISIS’ external operations network in Europe. This is a prize that I’m sure al Zawahiri and his chief lieutenants are salivating over. Any sort of merger, any sort of demise of ISIS on the battlefield will still leave its external operations department susceptible to takeover or merger or amalgamation of some sort, and that would greatly revitalize al Qaeda’s power. 

The Author is Bruce Hoffman

Professor Bruce Hoffman is a tenured professor at Georgetown University and the Director of the Center for Security Studies.  He has served as a commissioner on the Independent Commission to Review the FBI’s Post-9/11 Response to Terrorism and Radicalization, a Scholar-in-Residence for Counterterrorism at the CIA, and an adviser on counterterrorism to the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq in 2004.

Learn more about The Cipher's Network here

Next Steps in U.S.-Cuba Relations
Strengthening U.S. Cyber Defenses
Russia Sanctions: The New Normal
Corruption in China: The Party’s Over
Change in the Kingdom: Three Big Shifts
Managing Information & Risk in the Digital Age
Endgame in Afghanistan
The Convergence of Crime and Terror
Strengthening the Public-Private Partnership
The Billion Dollar Spy: An Interview with Author David Hoffman
The New Battlefield
North Africa: Instability Increasing
The Kidnapping Capital of the World
Homegrown Terror in the Age of ISIS
The Refugee Crisis: Europe on the Brink
The Future of Mexican Oil
Cracks in the System
Embassy Security Three Years After Benghazi
Fourteen Years Later
Can Congress Solve the Cybersecurity Problem?
Arctic Game Changer?
Where They Stand on National Security
The First 100 Days
Worthy of Fleming: Anthony Horowitz's "Trigger Mortis"
At the Crossroads
Eye in the Sky
Rough Road Ahead for Rousseff
Leveling the Playing Field: Tech Access in China
The Dead Drop
Top of Mind for Chief Security Officers
Protecting Your Business
The Future of Oil
Chinese Expansion in Latin America
American Involvement in Syria
The Future of Geospatial Intelligence
The Umbrella Movement: One Year Later
Ebola: An End in Sight?
The Pakistan Problem
The Dead Drop
The Encryption Debate
Going Dark
The US-Mexico Relationship
The Rise of Mobile Technology in Africa
The Dead Drop
Construction Boom in the Gulf
Cybersecurity: The Human Factor
Beijing and the South China Sea
Will Peace Talks Succeed in Colombia?
Social Media and Terrorism
The Rise of Israel’s Tech Sector
Securing the Border
Red Sun Rising
The Dead Drop
Adopting the Iran Deal
Stability on the Peninsula
Crime in South Africa
Combatting Terrorist Financing
The Dead Drop
Recovering from a Cyber Attack
Stability in South Asia
Veterans Day
Israel’s Wave of Violence
The Dead Drop
Protecting Critical Infrastructure
ISIS on the March
The Paris Attacks
Rethinking U.S. Security Assistance
The War on Terror 2.0
Putting Mali in Context
Will Russia Ever Change?
Will Canada Pull Back?
Understanding Putin’s Popularity
Chinese Expansion in Africa
Terrorism Finance and Wildlife Poaching
Illicit Trafficking in Latin America
Climate Change and Security
Preventing Another San Bernardino
Supply Chain Security
Negotiating a New Safe Harbor Agreement
The Battle for Yemen
Foreign Tech Access in China
The Dead Drop
Offensive Cyber Operations
Travel Security in the Age of ISIS
Iran: A Rising Cyber Power?
The Future of Cybersecurity
The Arab Spring Five Years Later
Preparing Today’s Military for Tomorrow’s Wars
Cybersecurity for Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises
Maritime Security in the Gulf of Guinea
Improving Aviation Security
The Dead Drop
Terrorism in 2016
Cybersecurity in 2016
The World in 2016: Opportunities and Risks
China in 2016
Russia in 2016
Moscow’s Cyber Buildup
The China-India Relationship
Russian Influence in Latin America
The Future of Homegrown Terrorism
Stability in Sub-Saharan Africa
Protecting Your Digital Identity
Elections in Taiwan: A Turning Point?
The Caliphate of Crime
Biotechnology’s Dark Side
Rethinking U.S. Strategy Toward China
The Evolution of Weapons of Mass Destruction
A New Era in US-Iranian Relations?
Will Information Sharing Improve Cybersecurity?
Evaluating China's New Silk Road
Tech in Latin America: Opportunities and Challenges
The Destruction of Libyan Oil
Ransomware: Protecting Yourself from Cyber Extortion
The US and India: Strengthening Security Cooperation
Security and Stability in Afghanistan
Combatting the Al Shabaab Threat
Sports Security: Protecting Your Venue
Israel’s Arab Alliance: A Counter to ISIS and Iran?
The End of U.S. Space Supremacy
The Caucasus: Instability Increasing
Stabilizing Iraq
The Trans-Pacific Partnership: Deepening U.S. Commitment to Asia
Securing Industrial Control Systems
The Battle for Ukraine
Defeating Boko Haram
Jordan: The Indispensable Ally
China’s Military Modernization
The Cybersecurity Skills Shortage
Solving Mexico’s Violence Problem
The Northern Triangle: The Most Violent Region in the World
The Future of the Middle East
Terrorism in the World’s Largest Muslim Country
The Rise of Quantum Computing
Europe’s Terrorism Problem
Stability in the East China Sea
The Rise of Counter-Drone Technology
The ISIS WMD Threat
Healthcare and the Cyber Threat
Security in the Indo-Pacific: Australia’s New Role
Countering ISIS' Message
Containing the ISIS Cancer
Security, Privacy, and the Fight Over Encryption
Taking Aim at Smart Guns
Losing Patience with North Korea
The Difficult Road Ahead for Colombia
The Taliban Resurgence
ISIS: The New Face of Global Jihad?
Connecting with Latin America
Russia and China: Mutually Assured Detachment
The Scourge of Terrorism
The Security Challenge of Terror
European Unity in the Face of Crises
Developing Enhanced Cybersecurity Systems
Pakistan: Friend and Foe?
Egypt’s Economy on the Brink
Tehran’s Balancing Act
Russia Makes Moves in the Middle East
Kenya’s Battle with al-Shabaab
Missile Defense in the Korean Peninsula
Are America's Ports Secure?
The Human Factor Behind the Panama Papers Leak
Russian Military Modernization
APTs: The Boogeymen of Cybersecurity
Vietnam: Guns and Butter
Syria: Power-sharing, Partitioning, and the Fight Against ISIS
Turbulence in Turkey
The U.S. and the Philippines: Shoulder to Shoulder in the South China Sea
The Darker Side of the Internet of Things
Cybersecurity Challenges in Asia
Taliban on the Offensive
Quagmire in Yemen
Cocaine and Conflict in Colombia
The Cloud: Nebulous, but Nimble
Censorship in China
An Emerging Crime-Terror Nexus in Europe
IRGC: Iran's Power Player
Latin America: The New Frontier for Cyber Attacks
The Hydra and the Snake: The Death of Osama Bin Laden
Nuclear Deterrence and Assurance in East Asia
Vehicle Cybersecurity: Running in Place
What Drives ISIS
Tensions Simmer in the South China Sea
Managing the Mobile Phone Malware Threat
Leaving the Oil Spigot Open
Burundi: A Path Toward Civil War?
The Value of Special Operations Forces
ISIS in the Balkans
The Tech Must Flow
North Korea’s Party Congress: What was all the fuss about?
Argentina: A Smoother Ride
Libya: Obama’s “Worst Mistake”
Tsai Ing-Wen’s Balancing Act
The North Korea Workers’ Party Congress and Kim Jong-un’s Legitimacy
Flying the Unfriendly Skies: Airline Security
Nuclear Standoff in South Asia
How to Read Riyadh
Even in Defeat, Austria’s Far-right Emulates Populist Growth in Europe
More Effective, Less Secure: The Cyber-Threat to Medical Devices
A New Era in the U.S.-Japan Security Partnership
Passing the Torch to the Next Generation of Saudi Leaders
U.S. Military Aid to Egypt Continues Despite Democratic Struggle
How Secure are Radiological Materials?
Roadblocks on the Path to Normality in Iran
Caracas in Crisis
Algeria: Exporting Stability
The Push for Kurdish Independence
U.S. and China: Strategic Cooperation at Arm’s Length
City Life: Living Smarter, Not Harder
Homegrown Terror in Orlando
A Rough Patch in U.S.-Saudi Relations
Japan’s “Abenomics”
A Tale of Two Bears: The DNC Hack
The Origins of Brexit
The Chinese Communist Party Under Xi Jinping
The Arctic: Technology and Infrastructure on Earth and in Space
Jordan: Stability Amidst Chaos
Exporting Jihad: Bosnia and Kosovo
Changing World Order: The Effects of Brexit
Navigating Uncharted Waters
Iraq after ISIS: Divide it or Fix it?
Terrorism in Istanbul: Severe Implications
North Korea as a Cyber Threat
One If By Air, Two If By Sea: Unmanned Surface Vehicles
The FBI’s Intelligence Mission
Does NATO Need a New Ideology?
Philippines v. China: Laying Down the Law of the Sea
Is Turkey Returning to a Policy of “Zero Problems?”
Federal Cybersecurity One Year After the OPM Breach
NATO: Weathering the Storms
The Rise of the Fringe: A Threat to Democracy?
Hezbollah's Many Faces
Trans-Pacific Trade Deal Remains in Limbo
The Aftermath of the Nice Attack: Is ISIS’ “Prestige” on the Rise?
Crossing the Line: A Failed Coup in Turkey
France’s Vulnerabilities in a Changing Terror Landscape
The Problem with Proxies
Water Security in South Asia: Running Dry and Running Out of Options
The Clash over Social Media Data
Extremist Groups Target Diversity in Bangladesh
Kenya: Private Sector and Government Coordinate on National Security
The ISIS-Al Qaeda Rivalry
Will Syria’s Most Productive Citizens Ever Return Home?
Trust but Verify: The United States, China & Economic Espionage
The World is Watching: The American Election and China
The Status Quo Will Not Work in South Sudan
Kurdistan as a Geopolitical Playground
Rio Olympic Games: A Missed Opportunity
Spinning Silk: Asia and the GCC
China-Japan Relations: Trading Goods While Exchanging Words
Climate Change in Ethiopia: Managing the Risks
Mounting Security Challenges in Afghanistan
Is There a Future for the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt?
Niger Delta Militants Compound Nigeria’s Security Crises
Thailand Under the Junta
Brazil: Getting its House Back in Order Post Olympics
Indicators of Political Instability
Finding Water in the Desert: Water Security in the Middle East
The Blurring Line Between Cyber and Physical Threats
The World is Watching: The American Election and Russia
NATO’s Ambiguity on the Red Line for Russia
Boko Haram: The Plague Affecting Nigeria and Beyond
Tunisia: From Revolution to Governance
Russia, China, and Cyber Espionage
Best Of: The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter: Game-Changer or Procurement Nightmare?
Climate Change Jeopardizes National Security
Algeria: A Bulwark Against ISIS
Venezuela's Military: Both a Stabilizing and Destabilizing Force
Will Theresa May's Britain Stay Committed to European Defense?
America and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank
What’s at Stake in the South China Sea?
Fifteen Years After 9/11: Much Accomplished, Much to be Done
The Post-9/11 U.S. Military
The Post-9/11 U.S. Intelligence Community
South Africa: ANC Losing Its Grip on Power
The World is Watching: The American Election and Saudi Arabia
Turkish Leverage Over the United States and European Union
Nuclear North Korea: A No-Win Scenario?
Insider Cyber Threats: A Pressing Problem Facing Business
Al Shabaab: A Persistent Threat
Unease, Uncertainty, and Strife: Global Inequality and Instability
Europe Bears a Big Burden in the World's Migration Crisis
Malicious Cyber-Actors in the Financial Services Industry
China's Ongoing Struggle to Clamp Down on Terrorism
Growing Instability in Africa’s Top Two Oil Producers
The World is Watching: The American Election and Iran
Dollars and Sense: Military Spending During an Economic Downturn
Forewarned is Forearmed: Confronting Adversaries in Cyberspace
Is Peace Possible in Colombia?
The Rise of Hypersonic Weapons
Nuclear No First Use: Ambiguity vs. Clarity
Al Qaeda Growing Stronger By the Minute
Cyber and the Law
The DRC: Strong Grip on Power, Weak Handle on Governance
Combatting Haqqani Network is Key to Afghan Strategy
War and Peace: Syria and the Question of American Intervention
The F35: A 21st Century Coalition Asset
Objective: Mosul
Where is Duterte Leading the Philippines?
Great Power Politics in Latin America
In the Strait of Hormuz, Little has Changed with Iran
Corralling the Cartel: OPEC and Oil Prices
Russian Hacking: The Difficult Path Between Inaction and Escalation
Philippines' Duterte Leaves U.S. Policymakers "Baffled"
The World is Watching: The American Election and Germany
Can Hamas Elections Shift the Status Quo?
What is the Future of U.S. Policy in Latin America?
Conflict and Common Goals: the Government and Silicon Valley
Kashmir in Crisis—Again
Al Qaeda in Syria: The Split That Wasn't
EU and U.S. Interests in Hungary in Jeopardy
The Price of Turkish Posturing in Iraq
Is it Possible to Hack the Vote?
Decision Day in the U.S.: Daunting Security Challenges Ahead
The State of Play in Syria
Modi: Modernizing India
Trump's Win Creates Uncertainty in Europe
The Powers and Pitfalls of Drone Warfare
Insurgent Use of Unmanned Aerial Systems: A Cat-and-Mouse Game
The African Migrant Crisis: The EU Takes Action
The U.S. Military: Ready or Not?
Sisi, the IMF, and Egypt's Crumbling Economy
Can Robots Fight Wars? The Future of Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems
The Global Debate Over the Legality of Drones Continues
Agility and Innovation in the Third Offset Strategy
China's Economy: Great Power, Great Responsibility
Identity in Cyberspace: The Advent of Biometrics Authentication
Obama's Legacy on Russia and China: Making the Grade
Sweden, Finland & Norway Deepen Defense Ties with the West
Developing and Sticking With a Clear Strategy in Afghanistan
Italy’s Choice: Damned If You Do, Damned If You Don’t
Predicting the Future: Anticipating Security Events with Data Analytics
Russia’s Energy Leverage Wanes in Parts of Europe
The U.S.-Japan Alliance: A Safe Harbor
President Obama's Counterterrorism Legacy
Dialing Up Controversy with China
China Officially Ties Internet Restrictions to its own National Security
Trumping Trade: Alternatives to TPP
The International Criminal Court, Under Pressure, Turns Eyes on U.S.
Egyptian and Israeli Cold Peace Has Never Been Warmer
Trump, Russia, and the CIA: Allies and Adversaries Confused
Hacking Against Cybercrime: The FBI's New Approach
Trumping Trade: The Future of NAFTA
Violence in Mexico Surges
Directed-Energy Weapons: Time to Focus
At the Crossroads Between East and West: Turkey and the World in 2016
The Perils of Connectivity: Cyber Insecurity in 2016
The Party Endures: China and the World in 2016
Cracks in the Union: Europe and the World in 2016
Eyes on the Kremlin: Russia and the World in 2016
Terrorists Don't Have to Win - They Just Have to Survive: Counterterrorism in 2016
A Perennial Task with No Finish Line: U.S. Defense Planning and Procurement in 2016
A Changing of the Guard: U.S. Counterterrorism Policy
Poland: Strong Defense Partner But Taking Undemocratic Steps
Land, Sea, and Air: U.S. Military Readiness in the Navy and Marine Corps
Syria's Tangled Trilateral Road to Peace
The UK’s New Surveillance Law: Security Necessity or Snoopers’ Charter?
South Korea’s Foreign Policy: Leaderless, but Not Rudderless
Jammeh to Cede Power, Leave The Gambia
Mali’s Instability: Advantage, Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb
Best Of: Railguns: The Fast, the Furious—and the Future?
Swarming the Battlefield: Combat Evolves Toward Lethal Autonomous Weapons
Mixed Signals to Moscow: The Trump Administration's Russia Policy Puzzle
NATO’s Changing Face Under the Trump Administration
South Korea’s Presidential Crisis: Is Democracy Stuck in Park?
Power and the U.S. Presidency
Trump's Hour of Action: Recommendations for Cyber Policy
Passing the ‘Football’: The Future of U.S. Nuclear Policy
The Baltics Up the Ante in Defense
Take It or Leave It: The Future of the Two-State Solution
Trump and Trudeau: Fire and Ice
Cybersecurity in the Gulf: The Middle East's Virtual Frontline
Little Margin for Error in South China Sea Policy
Eritrea: A Potential U.S. Counterterror Partner
Trump Administration Faces Daunting Challenges in Afghanistan
The New Space Race
Autonomous Hacking Bots: Menace or Savior?
Myanmar’s Rohingya Crisis – Fertile Ground for Jihadis in Southeast Asia?
Cuba Lingers in Limbo
Designating the Muslim Brotherhood As Terrorists Is Complicated
Trump and the New Map of the Middle East
The New Technology of Humanitarian Assistance
Missile Defense: Blocking Threats or Blocking Diplomacy?
Flynn Controversy Raises New Questions
Doubling Down Against the Jihadist Message
Civilians and the Military Under Trump
The Gulf Cooperation Council Operates in a Tumultuous Region
DIY Defense Tech: More Countries Seek Advanced Homegrown Weaponry
The Vice Closes on Mosul: What Next?
U.S. Marines Head to Norway and Australia
Cyber Proxies: A Central Tenet of Russia’s Hybrid Warfare
The Future of Transatlantic Defense: More Europe
Trump’s NSC: A Bureaucratic Balancing Act
Tallinn Manual 2.0: Stepping Out of the Fog in Cyberspace
Defining Objectives for the U.S.-Iran Relationship
The U.S.-Japan Alliance: Reform and Uncertainty
India’s Cyber Potential: A Bridge Between East and West
Missile Defense: Targeting a Technological Solution
NATO Zeros In on Black Sea Security
Vying for Power in Iran
The TPP Without America
Disentangling the NSA and Cyber Command
The United Nations at a Tipping Point
Developing Special Operations Forces in China and Russia
Hawala Networks: The Paperless Trail of Terrorist Transactions
Objective: Raqqa
The Baltics: Veterans of Russian Cyber Operations
Security Concerns Complicate Investment Opportunities in Mozambique
What Is the “Deep State”?
Al Qaeda Takes Advantage in Syria
The War of Words Between Europe and Turkey
Jumping the Air Gap: How to Breach Isolated Networks
Sizing Up the Trump Defense Budget
Brexit Begins: Hurdles to a UK-EU Deal
India-Israel Relations: An Opportunity That Can’t Be Missed
Why Syria’s Kurds Are America’s Key Ally
China Pivots its Hackers from Industrial Spies to Cyber Warriors
Putin vs. The Unknown
Germany, Japan Strengthen Defensive Capabilities
The Long-Goodbye to Afghanistan – Should It Get Longer?
Turkey’s Referendum: The Dangerous Road to “Yes”
Trump Draws the Line in Syria
EU Economic and Military Investments in Africa Increase
Trump-Xi Summit: No Real Progress Yet, but Stay Tuned
The Zero-Day Dilemma: Should Government Disclose Company Cyber Security Gaps?
Stepping into the Void of Trump’s Global Retreat
Al Qaeda Quietly Expands in South Asia
Chinese Firms Surge into Africa in Search of Customers, Contracts, Jobs
How Spy Agency Hackers Pose As – Anybody
Does Moderate Political Islam Exist?
The Call to Radicalism, Both at Home and Abroad
Instability Casts a Shadow Over French Presidential Election
The Problem of Siloed Cyber Warriors
Best Of: Sizing Up America’s Aircraft Carriers of the Future
Europe Intel Sharing Will Take Trust
Rebranding Countering Violent Extremism Programs: A Sharper Focus or Missing the Point?
Trump 100 Days: From the Travel Ban to TPP
The Power of Botnets: Amplifying Crime, Disinformation, and Espionage
The “China Solution”: Beijing Aims for Global Leadership
Venezuela Teetering on the Edge
A Tale of Three Libyas
Worlds Collide in the French Election
NSA Curtails Collection Under FISA Provision
U.S. Special Operations Forces’ Changing Mission in the Middle East
The Comey Fallout
Is Sudan Still a State Sponsor of Terror?
Will Moon Bring Back Sunshine Policy in South Korea?
WannaCry Attack: Microsoft Questions Role of Intelligence Community
Defending the U.S. from North Korean Long Range Missiles
Blue Helmets Under Fire - From Trump
Best Of: The War Against ISIS Has Just Begun
The “Renaissance” in Private Space Launch for Defense
Chinese Industrial Spies Cast a Wider Net
Could Iran’s Elections Indicate a New Future?
Western Balkans in Russia’s Crosshairs
Japan, South Korea Shaken by Pyongyang, Beijing – And Now, Washington
How Can the U.S. Level the Digital Trade Playing Field?
Best Of: Sizing Up America’s Aircraft Carriers of the Future
U.S., China, Others Build Bases in Djibouti – What Could Go Wrong?
Asian Nations Arming for Underwater War
Would an Arab NATO Help Stabilize the Mideast — or Inflame Iran?
The Hardest Fight Comes After Mosul Falls
Conflict Minerals: The Dark Side of the Digital Age Electronics Boom
Terror in London: ISIS Threat to West Intensifying
UK Terror Attack: Looking for Links to the U.S.
Europe Is Boosting Defense Spending – And It’s Not All About Trump
Populism Spreads Across U.S., Europe But Could Halt as Economy Rallies
Pyongyang and Beijing No Longer “Close as Lips and Teeth”
Terror Finance in the Age of Bitcoin
Does Brexit Still Mean Brexit?
South Africa: On the Road to Turmoil?
Will China Play Peacemaker with Its Oil Suppliers Saudi Arabia and Iran?
Philippine City is a Battleground in Global Fight Against Extremism
Drugs and Violence on the United States’ Doorstep: No End in Sight
Can China Actually Restrain Kim Jong-Un?
Allying Public and Private Forces on the Front Lines of Cybersecurity
Close Calls or Worse Between U.S. and Russia in Syria
U.S. Running Out of Options in Afghanistan
As ISIS Falls, Border Battles Loom
Are France and Germany the Last Hope for the EU?
Decisions Loom for Qatar as Arab Countries Harden Stance
Hong Kong and China: One Country, One Future?
Disagreements on Trade, THAAD, and Troops Won’t Stop U.S.-Korea Alliance
Murky U.S.-Pakistan Relationship Defined by Afghan War
Is Space the Next Frontier of Missile Defense?
The New Nuclear Triad
Trump and Putin: Can the U.S. Forgive and Forget?
Mexico’s Violence Spikes, Fueled by Drug Trafficking, Kidnapping, Corruption
The Inside Story on U.S. Sanctions
Japan’s Arms Merchants Are Off to a Rocky Start
The "Main Enemy": Russian Active Measures in the United States
Russia Meddles in Western, Northern Europe
Hiding in Plain Sight: Maintaining A Spy’s Cover in the Internet Era
Pakistan’s Proudly Double-Dealing Intelligence Service
Do the Trump Team’s New Rules for Vetting Visitors Target Muslims?
Cyber Deterrence – Left of Virtual Boom
Border Dispute: China Won’t Back Off, India Can’t Back Down
U.S. Special Operations Forces: Taking the Fight to Terror in Africa