Stop the "al Qaeda-is-Degraded" Rhetoric

By Michael Kugelman

Michael Kugelman is the senior associate for South and Southeast Asia at the Woodrow Wilson Center. His main specialty is Pakistan, India, and Afghanistan and U.S. relations with each of them. Mr. Kugelman writes monthly columns for Foreign Policy's South Asia Channel and monthly commentaries for War on the Rocks. He also contributes regular pieces to the Wall Street Journal's Think Tank blog. He has also produced a number of longer publications on South Asia, including the edited volumes Pakistan's Interminable Energy Crisis: Is There Any Way Out?, Pakistan's Runaway Urbanization: What Can Be Done?, and India's Contemporary Security Challenges. Mr. Kugelman received his M.A. in law and diplomacy from the Fletcher School at Tufts University. He received his B.A. from American University's School of International Service.

The Cipher Brief sat down with Michael Kugelman, Deputy Director and Senior Associate for South Asia at the Woodrow Wilson Center, to discuss the threat posed by al Qaeda’s affiliate in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS). According to Kugelman, al Qaeda has managed to “spread its tentacles across the Indian Subcontinent and the broader South Asia region” and AQIS remains worrisome, primarily since it operates “in the shadows.”

The Cipher Brief: From statements made by the al Qaeda leadership, it appears the group aims to expand its influence in the Indian subcontinent, but news headlines do not seem to indicate that the group has gained significant traction there. Are these assessments accurate? If so, why has this been the case?

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