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Hegemonic Competition, Hegemonic Disruption and the Current War
Unformatted Document Text:  Newmann: DRAFT: Please do not cite without permission Al-Qaeda leaders and strategists are explicit aware of these issues. In his memoir, Knights Under the Prophet’s Banner, Ayman al-Zawahiri, al-Qeada’s second in command explicitly states that winning the people’s “confidence, respect, and affection” is one of the keys to victory. 95 He also considers the use of traditional guerrilla warfare to accomplish the goals of revolutionary Islam, but argues that the terrain renders such a strategy inappropriate; propaganda and terrorist campaigns the best strategy. 96 Al-Qaeda internet magazines discuss the uses of “fourth generation” and “asymmetric” warfare. 97 Bin-laden’s own 1996 fatwa emphasizes the success of small attacks in forcing the US to withdraw from Beirut in 1983, Somalia in 1993, and Yemen in 2000. 98 Al-Qaeda’s terrorist campaign against the US and its allies is not an ad-hoc product of a disjointed network; it is the product of strategic choices being made by al-Qaeda leaders as they consider how to conduct a global war against a superior foe. Al-Qaeda’s strategy can be placed in the context of the three phases of insurgent warfare (Figure Four). Descriptions of al-Qaeda’s global network, its use of the internet, its financial tactics, its recruiting and training base, and religious education infrastructure are analogous to first phase of classic insurgent warfare. Al-Qaeda is building its network, spreading its propaganda, and creating a political and operational base. It is mobilizing populations toward belief in and passive or active support for revolutionary Islam. Its terrorist attacks are a modernized form of Phase II – the units are still cells, but they operate in a more decentralized, entrepreneurial way, engaging in terrorist attacks that have proven to be force multipliers under the lights of the international media. In a sense, al-Qaeda sees the necessity of using hugely dramatic events to initiate sweeping and dramatic political change. Phase III of al- Qaeda’s new-style insurgent warfare is the least developed. How al-Qaeda will transform its terrorist strategy into an ability to control territory and seize power remains unclear. Several key developments, 95 Ayman al-Zawahiri, Knights Under the Prophet’s Banner as excerpted in Walter Laqueur, ed. Voices of Terror (Naperville, IL; Sourcebooks Inc, 2004), p. 430. 96 Christopher Henzel, “The Origins of al-Qeada’s Ideology,” Parameters Vol. Vol. 35, No. 1 *Spring 2005), pp. 69-80. 97 See the translation of an article from Al-Ansar: For the Struggle Against the Crusader War by Abu ‘Ubeid Al-Qurashi as reprinted in “Bin Laden Lieutenant Admits to September 11 and Explains Al-Qaida’s Combat Doctrine,” MEMRI Special Dispatch Series 344, February 10, 2002. Available at: www.mewmri.org/bin/opener.cgi?Page=archives&ID=SP34402 . Accessed, October 1, 2007. 98 Bin-Laden, “Declaration of War against the Americans Occupying the Land of the Two Holy Places.” Available at: www.pbs.org/newshour/terrorism/international/fatwa_1996.html. 33

Authors: Newmann, William.
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background image
Newmann: DRAFT: Please do not cite without permission
Al-Qaeda leaders and strategists are explicit aware of these issues. In his memoir, Knights Under
the Prophet’s Banner, Ayman al-Zawahiri, al-Qeada’s second in command explicitly states that winning
the people’s “confidence, respect, and affection” is one of the keys to victory.
He also considers the use
of traditional guerrilla warfare to accomplish the goals of revolutionary Islam, but argues that the terrain
renders such a strategy inappropriate; propaganda and terrorist campaigns the best strategy.
Al-Qaeda
internet magazines discuss the uses of “fourth generation” and “asymmetric” warfare.
Bin-laden’s own
1996 fatwa emphasizes the success of small attacks in forcing the US to withdraw from Beirut in 1983,
Somalia in 1993, and Yemen in 2000.
Al-Qaeda’s terrorist campaign against the US and its allies is not
an ad-hoc product of a disjointed network; it is the product of strategic choices being made by al-Qaeda
leaders as they consider how to conduct a global war against a superior foe.
Al-Qaeda’s strategy can be placed in the context of the three phases of insurgent warfare (Figure
Four). Descriptions of al-Qaeda’s global network, its use of the internet, its financial tactics, its recruiting
and training base, and religious education infrastructure are analogous to first phase of classic insurgent
warfare. Al-Qaeda is building its network, spreading its propaganda, and creating a political and
operational base. It is mobilizing populations toward belief in and passive or active support for
revolutionary Islam. Its terrorist attacks are a modernized form of Phase II – the units are still cells, but
they operate in a more decentralized, entrepreneurial way, engaging in terrorist attacks that have proven
to be force multipliers under the lights of the international media. In a sense, al-Qaeda sees the necessity
of using hugely dramatic events to initiate sweeping and dramatic political change. Phase III of al-
Qaeda’s new-style insurgent warfare is the least developed. How al-Qaeda will transform its terrorist
strategy into an ability to control territory and seize power remains unclear. Several key developments,
95
Ayman al-Zawahiri, Knights Under the Prophet’s Banner as excerpted in Walter Laqueur, ed. Voices of Terror (Naperville, IL;
Sourcebooks Inc, 2004), p. 430.
96
Christopher Henzel, “The Origins of al-Qeada’s Ideology,” Parameters Vol. Vol. 35, No. 1 *Spring 2005), pp. 69-80.
97
See the translation of an article from Al-Ansar: For the Struggle Against the Crusader War by Abu ‘Ubeid Al-Qurashi as
reprinted in “Bin Laden Lieutenant Admits to September 11 and Explains Al-Qaida’s Combat Doctrine,” MEMRI Special
Dispatch Series 344
, February 10, 2002. Available at:
.
Accessed, October 1, 2007.
98
Bin-Laden, “Declaration of War against the Americans Occupying the Land of the Two Holy Places.” Available at:
www.pbs.org/newshour/terrorism/international/fatwa_1996.html.
33


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