A Hundred Osamas: Islamist Threats and the Future of Counterinsurgency
If America’s pursuit of a Global War on Terror is strategically and politically well-founded, then why are Islamist insurgencies and extremist movements continuing to operate, generating parallel cells that terrify the world with violent attacks from Iraq to London? While analysts debate the intensity and longevity of the latest round of terrorist attacks, we would do well to consider whether U.S. long-term goals in the war on terror-namely diminishing their presence and denying terrorists the ability to operate, while also altering conditions that terrorists exploit-are being met. If we are not pursuing the proper strategy or its implementation is not decreasing support for terrorists, then we should adapt accordingly. This monograph addresses these questions and examines the efficacy of proposed strategies in light of the evolution of Islamist jihadist leaders, ideas, and foot-soldiers. Jihadist strategy has emerged in a polymorphous pattern over the last 30 years, but many Americans only became aware of the intensity of this problem post-September 11, 2001 (9/11), and through observation of the 2003-05 insurgency in Iraq.