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|According to many counterterrorism analysts today, Al Qaeda has evolved from a centrally directed organization into a worldwide franchiser of terrorist attacks (Grier P., 2005). Since war in Afghanistan, which significantly degraded Osama bin Laden’s command and control, Al Qaeda does appear to have become increasingly decentralized. It is now seen by many as more of a social movement than coherent organization (Wikotorowicz Q., 2001).
Al Qaeda did not decide to decentralize until 2002, following the ouster of the Taliban from Afghanistan and the arrest of a number of key Al Qaeda leaders including Abu Zubaydhah, Al Qaeda’s Dean of students, Ramzi bin Al Shibh, the organizer of the Hamburg cell of 9/11 hijackers, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the mastermind of 9/11 and the financier of the first World Trade Center attack, and Tawfiq Attash Kallad, the master mind of the USS Cole attack.
In response these and other key losses, Al Qaeda allegedly convened a strategic summit in northern Iran in November 2002, at which the group’s consultative council decided that it could no longer operate as a hierarchy, but instead would have to decentralize (Joseph Felter et. al., 2005).
9. Grier, P. “The New Al Qa’ida: Local Franchiser,” Christian Science Monitor (11 July 2005). Online at: http://www.csmonitor.com/2005/ 0711/p01s01-woeu.html (Accessed on May 26, 2006).
11. Joseph Felter et. al., Harmony and Disharmony: Exploiting al-Qa’ida’s Organizational Vulnerabilities (West Point, N.Y.: United States Military Academy, 2006), p. 7-9.
26. Wiktorowicz, Q. "The New Global Threat: Transnational Salafis and Jihad," Middle East Policy 8, no. 4 (2001: 18-38)
According to most counterterrorism analysts today, al-Qa’ida has evolved from a centrally directed organization into a worldwide franchiser of terrorist attacks.7 Indeed, since the war in Afghanistan, which significantly degraded bin Laden’s command and control, al-Qa’ida has become increasingly decentralized, and is seen by some as more of a “movement” than any other form of organization.
In 2001, following the ouster of the Taliban from Afghanistan, a number of al-Qa’ida leaders suddenly found themselves in detention centers facing long months of interrogation. Abu Zubaydah, al-Qa’ida’s “dean of students,” who directed training and placement for the group, was captured in Faisalabad, Pakistan, in February 2002. Ramzi Bin al Shibh, the organizer of the Hamburg, Germany cell that formed the core of the 9/11 hijackers, was captured in Karachi, Pakistan, on the first anniversary of the attacks. These and other counterterrorism successes ultimately led to the capture of Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the mastermind of 9/11 and the financier of the first World Trade Center attack, in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, in March 2003. And a month later, Tawfiq Attash Kallad, the mastermind of the USS Cole attack, was apprehended in Karachi. In response to the loss of key leaders, al-Qa’ida allegedly convened a strategic summit in northern Iran in November 2002, at which the group’s consultative council came to recognize that it could no longer exist as a hierarchy, but instead would have to become a decentralized network and move its operations out over the entire world.10
7 Peter Grier, “The New Al Qa’ida: Local Franchiser,” Christian Science Monitor (11 July 2005). Online at: http://www.csmonitor.com/2 005/0711/p01s01-woeu.html.
10 Robert Windrem, 2005.
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