by Katherine Zimmerman
American Enterprise Institute
September 19, 2013
The United States continues to face a threat from the al Qaeda network twelve years after declaring war against it. America’s failure to understand the complexities of the terrorist network as it has evolved over the years has led only to tactical successes on the battlefield. The strategy to disrupt the al Qaeda network by killing senior leadership in a “core group” is based on a faulty understanding that overemphasizes that group’s importance and the current intentions of affiliates to attack the United States. Targeting individuals or a specific group within the al Qaeda network will not be effective alone. The al Qaeda network is global and operates on a global level. Many al Qaeda groups operate solely on the local level, but they strengthen the broader network. The United States, therefore, needs a comprehensive global strategy to counter al Qaeda that is tailored down to the local level.

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