Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Ansar al-Din was created in November 2011 by Iyad Ag Ghali, a legendary Tuareg powerbroker in northern Mali who led two rebellions against the Malian government in the 1990’s and in 2006. According to journalistic accounts as well as scholarly writing, Ag Ghali grew increasingly religious and joined the Tablighi Jamaat, the Pakistani Islamic missionary organization known […]

Much of the secondary literature in the West depicts Professor Ghulam Niazi as the progenitor of the mujahidin movement in Afghanistan in the 1960s. For a variety of reasons this contradicts primary sources that focus more on the various resistance efforts elsewhere in Afghanistan during this period. Of course, the primary sources are also influenced […]

US Embassy Protests

Posted: 14th September 2012 by Will McCants in Uncategorized

Update 9/21/2012: Here’s a Foreign Affairs essay I wrote about the roll of Salafis in the riots. Below are some thoughts I shared with a friend this morning who asked about the protests. I had to edit one pretty heavily in light of the events of the past few hours, and I’m sure I’ll have […]

Several months ago, President Obama signed an executive order establishing an interagency center to coordinate the US government’s public messages against terrorist organizations. A major component of this Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications (CSCC) was in the news lately for its clever campaign against AQAP on Yemeni tribal forums. Because the center is new, most people […]

Comments Off on Everything you always wanted to know about al-Maqdisi (but were afraid to ask)

Well, perhaps not quite. Nevertheless, readers of Jihadica will be interested to know that my book on Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi, one of the most prominent jihadi ideologues alive, was recently published by Cambridge University Press. Maybe the book doesn’t tell you everything you want to know about the man, his ideas and his influence, but […]

On Elephants and Al-Qaeda’s Moderation

Posted: 8th June 2012 by Will McCants in Uncategorized

Over the past several days, Leah Farrall and I have been debating on Twitter about her recent blog post on the killing of Abu Yahya al-Libi by a US drone. In her post, Leah argues that the US policy of killing senior al-Qaeda Central leaders is wrongheaded because those leaders are “a moderating force within […]

Shumukh Forum Reacts to Abbottabad Docs

Posted: 5th May 2012 by Will McCants in Uncategorized

The al-Qaeda supporters on the Shumukh forum have mixed reactions to the Abbottabad documents released by the CTC. Here’s a summary of the main thread (159824) that discusses the documents: These documents are not real. They are designed to sow discord among jihadis and create tension b/n al-Qaeda and the online jihadi forums. The documents are […]

One Year Later

Posted: 2nd May 2012 by Will McCants in Uncategorized
Comments Off on One Year Later

While you wait patiently for the CTC’s release of a few Bin Laden documents tomorrow, here are three articles I’ve written recently on what’s happened since Bin Laden’s death (plus a video): A Brookings memo explaining why many of Egypt’s Salafis have embraced party politics after railing against it for decades An update to my […]

Comments Off on Countering Violent Extremism, Pt. 3 (Final): Programs & Measuring Effectiveness

As I’ve said in the two previous installments, how you define and scope CVE will affect program design and implementation. The most important questions to ask are: Which population along the spectrum is the focus of the program? Who is best suited to implement the program? What laws and human rights principles come into play? How […]

A Tangled Net Assessment of al-Qaeda

Posted: 19th April 2012 by Will McCants in Uncategorized

Yesterday, Mary Habeck posted a net assessment of al-Qaeda’s fortunes. After I said something uncharitable about it on Twitter, Mary was understandably annoyed. In the spirit of fairness, I will give her argument a full airing here and respond. Mary first states the facts that she believes most AQ experts agree on: “al Qaeda is […]