Ending Terrorism: Lessons for defeating al-Qaeda

Ending Terrorism: Lessons for defeating al-Qaeda

by Audrey Kurth Cronin

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Like all other terrorist movements, al-Qaeda will end. While it has traits that exploit and reflect the current international context, it is not utterly without precedent: some aspects of al-Qaeda are unusual, but many are not. Terrorist groups end according to recognisable patterns that have persisted for centuries, and they reflect, among other factors, the counter-terrorist policies taken against them. It makes sense to formulate those policies with a specific image of an end in mind.

Understanding how terrorism ends is the best way to avoid being manipulated by the tactic. There is vast historical experience with the decline and ending of terrorist campaigns, yet few policymakers are familiar with it. This paper first explains five typical strategies of terrorism and why Western thinkers fail to grasp them. It then describes historical patterns in ending terrorism to suggest how insights from that history can lay a foundation for more effective counter-strategies. Finally, it extracts policy prescriptions specifically relevant to ending the campaign of al-Qaeda and its associates, moving towards a post al-Qaeda world.

Product Details

BN ID: 2940151304382
Publisher: International Institute for Strategic Studies
Publication date: 06/05/2015
Series: Adelphi , #394
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 88
File size: 284 KB

About the Author

Audrey Kurth Cronin is Senior Research Associate in the Changing Character of War Programme at Oxford University, and Professor of Strategy at the US National War College, Washington DC. This paper is derived from a research project and associated book, How Terrorism Ends: Lessons from the Decline and Demise of Terrorist Campaigns (Princeton University Press, forthcoming), completed while the author was Academic Director of Studies for the Oxford Leverhulme programme on the Changing Character of War. It contains only the author’s personal views and does not necessarily reflect the position of the US National War College, the US Department of Defense or any other US government agency.

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