While the “Global War on Terror” has succeeded in constricting al Qaeda’s ability to operate, it has not eliminated the threat. Al Qaeda is stronger and more resilient than at any time since 2001 due to its ability to adapt, innovate, and reconfigure its resources in response to a hostile counterterrorism environment. This article presents a new framework for considering the war against al Qaeda. Policy makers must recognize that the current conflict is not a single conflict, but rather three conflicts: a war of action, a war of networks, and a war of ideas. Viewing al Qaeda in this manner will facilitate the integration of counterterrorism policy and strategy from the tactical to the strategic level. Furthermore, the failure to understand why al Qaeda has survived and prospered precludes the development and deployment of a cogent counterterrorism strategy. Finally, the authors present a set of policy recommendations structured around this framework.

Stay Informed

Sign up to receive updates from CTC.

Sign up