JD: Week4: Discussion Question

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 Learning Resources

Readings

  • Article: Hoffman, B. (2007). The global terrorist threat: Is Al-Qaeda on the run or on the march? Middle East Policy, 14(2), 44–58.
    Retrieved from the Walden Library databases.
  • Article: Hoffman, B. (2008). The myth of grass-roots terrorism. Foreign Affairs, 87(3), 133–138.
    Retrieved from the Walden Library databases.
  • Book Excerpt:Stout, M. E. (Ed.) (2009). Transnational movements and terrorism. In Cronin, P.M. (Ed.), Global Strategic Assessment 2009: America's Security Role in a Changing World (pp. 119–144). Washington, D.C.: National Defense University Press. Retrieved from http://www.ndu.edu/inss/docUploaded/10-GSA2009_Chpt%206.pdf

    Article: Kilcullen, D. J. (2005). Countering global insurgency. The Journal of Strategic Studies, 28(4), 597–617.
    Retrieved from the Walden Library databases.
  • Article: Sageman, M. (2008). The next generation of terror. Foreign Policy, 165, 36-42.
    Retrieved from the Walden Library databases.

    Article: Sageman, M. (2008). The reality of grass-roots terrorism. Foreign Affairs, 87(4), 165–166.
    Retrieved from the Walden Library databases.

    Article: National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the U.S. (2004). The 9/11 Commission Report. Retrieved from http://www.9-11commission.gov/report/
    Chapter 2, "The Foundation of the New Terrorism"

Media

  • Web Video: Bergman, L. (Writer), & Docherty, N. (Writer & Director). (2005, January 25). Al Quaeda's new front [Television series episode]. In N. Docherty (Producer), Frontline. Boston: WGBH Educational Foundation. Retrieved from http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/front/

    Chapter 1, "The Madrid Bombings"

 Discussion - Week 4 

 Al Qaeda's Evolution and Structure
AQAM has launched terrorist attacks in Indonesia, Turkey, Spain, Algeria, Pakistan, Iraq, and India, along with the September 11, 2001 attacks. It is simultaneously a global ideological movement, a coalition of regional terrorist groups, and a collection of local insurgencies. Despite the extensive media coverage and study of Al Qaeda by terrorism experts, little is known about how it has evolved and how it currently is structured. Experts continue to debate the following questions: Is Al Qaeda a hierarchical organization led by Osama bin Laden and Ayman al Zawahiri? Or has it evolved into a "leaderless insurgency", more a movement than an organization? How one answers these questions has major implications for counter-terrorism policy and strategy. In the readings this week, you look at arguments by two terrorism experts, Bruce Hoffman and Marc Sageman, about the evolution and structure of Al Qaeda. With these arguments in mind, you will consider your position in the debate about Al Qaeda's evolution and structure.

To prepare for this Discussion:

  • Review the video segment "The Madrid Bombings" and consider how Islamic terrorist groups, like Al Qaeda, have evolved.
  • Review the article "The Global Terrorist Threat: Is Al-Qaeda on the Run or on the March?" Consider Hoffman's explanation of how Al Qaeda has evolved and currently is structured.
  • Review the article "The Next Generation of Terror." Think about Sageman's explanation of how Al Qaeda has evolved and currently is structured.
  • Review the article "The Myth of Grass-Roots Terrorism" as well as the article entitled "The Reality of Grass-Roots Terrorism." Consider Hoffman's and Sageman's arguments about the evolution and structure of Al Qaeda.
  • Choose a position (Hoffman or Sageman) regarding the evolution and structure of Al Qaeda.

With these thoughts in mind:

Post by Day 4 your position on Hoffman and Sageman's arguments regarding the evolution and structure of Al Qaeda. Justify your position with academic references.

Note: Put your position (Hoffman or Sageman) in the first line of your post. You will be asked to respond to a colleague who took the position that you did not.

Be sure to support your postings and responses with specific references to the Learning Resources.


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