Counterterrorism
Strategy Initiative

Archives: Counterterrorism Strategy Initiative Articles and Op-Eds

Lessons of Norway Attacks

  • By
  • Brian Fishman,
  • New America Foundation
July 23, 2011 |

Terror came home to Norway on Friday. A bomb was detonated near the prime minister's office in Oslo and a gunman attacked a political youth camp on the island of Utoya. In the end, at least 87 people were killed, a nation was traumatized, and the world was again riveted by a terrorist attack experienced indirectly, but in real time, on television news reports and in 140 character bits via Twitter.

Behind the Scene of the Afghanistan Troop Withdrawal Plan

  • By
  • Peter Bergen,
  • New America Foundation
June 23, 2011 |

According to senior administration officials, the planning for President Barack Obama's announcement for the drawdown from Afghanistan began in January of this year when the president summoned top members of his national security team into the Oval Office and tasked them with coming up with a plan for the drawdown.

The calculations that went into the drawdown decision included the fact that "remarkable and "unexpected" progress had been made degrading al Qaeda infrastructure in its bases in the tribal regions of Pakistan over the past 18 months, explained one of those officials.

Military Experts Scrutinize Obama's Drawdown Plan

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

This speech is a welcome step toward a sustainable Afghanistan policy, one that realizes that our interests in that country are real, but limited. This speech puts us on a path that aligns our commitment to Afghanistan with these limited interests -- a foreign policy one might almost call "humble."

Washington's Phantom War

  • By
  • Peter Bergen,
  • Katherine Tiedemann,
  • New America Foundation
June 22, 2011 |

One hot summer evening in 2009, in a small village in the remote Pakistani tribal agency of South Waziristan, a pair of Hellfire missiles fired from an unmanned Predator drone slammed into a house, killing the chief of the Pakistani Taliban, Baitullah Mehsud, along with his wife. About a year later, in May 2010, down a dirt road from Miran Shah, the main town in North Waziristan, a missile from another Predator killed Mustafa Abu al-Yazid (known as Saeed al-Masri), a founding member of al Qaeda, along with his wife and several of their children.

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."

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