Counterterrorism
Strategy Initiative

Archives: Counterterrorism Strategy Initiative Articles and Op-Eds

The Drawdown Debate

  • By
  • Douglas Ollivant,
  • New America Foundation
June 20, 2011 |

The Afghanistan comments -- if perhaps not a fully articulated Afghanistan policy -- expressed by Republican presidential candidate Jon Huntsman (and to a lesser extent, Mitt Romney) provide an opportunity for a real look at a long-term U.S. policy for Afghanistan. The current debate over troop levels is good in that it focuses attention on the problem, but asking how many troops we should withdraw this summer and over the coming year is the wrong question, and much too narrowly focused. To date, our actions in Afghanistan seem to be reactive.

Where Will Zawahiri Take al-Qaeda?

  • By
  • Peter Bergen,
  • New America Foundation
June 19, 2011 |

There's nothing like finally getting the top job after a decade of faithfully playing second fiddle to a high-profile boss. But for al-Qaeda's Ayman al-Zawahiri, the dour Egyptian surgeon and longtime deputy to Osama bin Laden, succeeding his old leader comes with an unexpected challenge: His predecessor, it turns out, has gifted him a bit of a lemon. In recent years, al-Qaeda has become the Blockbuster Video of global jihad.

The organization and brand are in deep trouble, and Zawahiri is quite unlikely to become the leader who can turn things around.

Don't Count on a Peace Deal with Taliban

  • By
  • Peter Bergen,
  • New America Foundation
May 24, 2011 |

Recently, both The Washington Post and the German magazine Der Spiegel have reported on meetings between U.S. officials and representatives of the Taliban that have taken place in Germany to discuss some form of peace negotiations.

Talking to the Taliban makes sense, but there are major impediments standing in the way of a deal.

Afghanistan Has Three Wars at Once. Let’s Fight the Right One

  • By
  • Douglas Ollivant,
  • New America Foundation
May 23, 2011 |

There is not one war in Afghanistan. There are three.

First, there is the fight against al-Qaeda and related terrorist groups. Second is the war to protect and support the fledgling Afghan government against the Taliban insurgency. The third war is the least understood but the most enduring: the internal social and cultural battle between the urban modernizers of Afghanistan, mostly based in Kabul, and the rural, tribal, anti-modern peoples who live in the country's inaccessible mountain regions.

Egyptian Saif al-Adel Appointed Acting Leader of Al Qaeda

  • By
  • Peter Bergen,
  • New America Foundation
May 17, 2011 |

An Egyptian who was once a Special Forces officer has been appointed "caretaker" leader of al Qaeda in the wake of Osama bin Laden's death, according to a source with detailed knowledge of the group's inner workings.

Al Qaeda's interim leader is Saif al-Adel, who has long played a prominent role in the group, according to Noman Benotman. Benotman has known the al Qaeda leadership for more than two decades. He was once a leader of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, a militant organization that used to be aligned with al Qaeda, but in recent years renounced al Qaeda's ideology.

Bin Laden's Poisonous Ideology Began to Wither on 9/11

  • By
  • Peter Bergen,
  • New America Foundation
May 9, 2011 |

Osama bin Laden long fancied himself something of a poet. His compositions tended to the morbid, and a poem written two years after 9/11 in which he contemplated the circumstances of his death was no exception. Bin Laden wrote, "Let my grave be an eagle's belly, its resting place in the sky's atmosphere amongst perched eagles."

Five Myths About Osama Bin Laden

  • By
  • Peter Bergen,
  • New America Foundation
May 6, 2011 |

Few individuals in recent history have exerted greater influence on world events than Osama bin Laden — and even fewer have elicited as much mythology. From the origins of the al-Qaeda terrorist network to the devastation of Sept. 11, 2001, to the manhunt that came to an end with such drama last Sunday, bin Laden's life has been shrouded in mysteries and misconceptions that will far outlive him.

1. The CIA created Osama bin Laden.

The Crossroads

  • By
  • Peter Bergen,
  • New America Foundation
May 4, 2011 |

The death of Osama bin Laden will raise the inevitable question: What are we still doing in Afghanistan? The answer, of course, is that the mission in Afghanistan is about something bigger and more ambitious than eliminating Al Qaeda's leaders—most of whom, in any event, are probably living in Pakistan, as bin Laden was when the United States finally tracked him down. No, the mission in Afghanistan isn't about killing Al Qaeda members.

Tim Hetherington: Talented Photographer, True Gentleman

  • By
  • Peter Bergen,
  • New America Foundation
April 21, 2011 |

The first words that were used to describe Tim by almost anybody who knew him were "humble" and "modest."

Yet, Tim was a guy who had great talents. He took highly artistic photos and had released a photography book "Infidel," which consists of his portraits of American soldiers fighting in the Afghan War.

He was also someone who would go out in the field and take the grittiest pictures of combat.

'Three Cups of Tea' Author Threatened with Lawsuit for Defamation

  • By
  • Peter Bergen,
  • New America Foundation
April 19, 2011 |

The best-selling author of "Three Cups of Tea" and another book that cast light on the need to educate girls in Pakistan and Afghanistan may face a legal battle and a review from the book's publisher amid allegations that key stories in the books are false.

Greg Mortenson shot to worldwide fame with the book "Three Cups of Tea: One Man's Mission to Fight Terrorism and Build Nations ... One School at a Time," which describes his getting lost in an effort to climb K2, the world's second-highest peak, being rescued by Pakistanis in the village of Korphe and vowing to return there to build a school for local girls.

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