Archive for the ‘Studies in Conflict and Terrorism’ Category

A new journal article for Studies in Conflict and Terrorism with Peter and Ryan looking at the community of “middle managers” in al Qaeda. It got a write-up on Bloomberg that appears to have been picked up in a couple of places. Took a while to emerge, but explores some ideas and a community that we thought was a bit under-explored in the counter-terrorism research.

Here is the abstract:

This article claims that the ongoing debate about the structure and dynamics of Al Qaeda has failed to appreciate the importance of an organizational layer that is situated between the top leadership and the grass-roots. Rather than being “leaderless,” it is the group’s middle management that holds Al Qaeda together. In Clausewitzian terms, Al Qaeda’s middle managers represent a center of gravity—a “hub of … power and movement”—that facilitates the grass-roots’ integration into the organization and provides the top leadership with the global reach it needs in order to carry out its terrorist campaign, especially in Europe and North America. They are, in other words, the connective tissue that makes Al Qaeda work. The article substantiates this hypothesis by providing a number of case studies of Al Qaeda middle managers, which illustrate the critical role they have played in integrating the grass-roots with the top leadership. The policy implications are both obvious and important. If neither the top leadership nor the grass-roots alone can provide Al Qaeda with strategic momentum, it will be essential to identify and neutralize the middle managers, and—in doing so—“cause the network to collapse on itself.”

Unfortunately, as it is a Routledge journal, it is behind a firewall and can be found here for those with access. However, I might be able to help point you in the direction of a copy if you get in touch.

My long-awaited (in my mind at least) contribution to the Studies in Conflict and Terrorism journal has at last landed. I refer to it briefly here and here, it goes into detail about the links and connections between the networks around Abu Hamza and Omar Bakri Mohammed and terrorist plots in the UK. Doubtless some information is missing, and any pointers would be hugely appreciated.

The article can be found here:

Unfortunately, it is behind a firewall, so I cannot simply post it here in its entirety. However, drop me a note and I can maybe help out…

Here is the abstract to whet your appetite:

Omar Bakri Mohammed (the Tottenham Ayatollah) and Abu Hamza al-Masri (the hook-handed cleric) are two of the more infamous figures to emerge from what critics called “Londonistan.” However, they should be remembered not only for their rhetoric and appearance, but also for the fact that their respective organizations, Bakri’s Al Muhajiroun, and Hamza’s Supporters of Shariah based at the Finsbury Park Mosque, have been the connective thread through most Islamist terrorist plots that have emanated from the United Kingdom. This article maps out the network of terrorist plots in the United Kingdom and abroad that appears to have emanated from the networks around these two men with a view to understanding better how the connections remained unclear for so long and how understanding of the networks evolved over time.

UPDATE: I realize that I completely failed to thank James B for reviewing a first draft and pointing me in the direction of some useful info. Grazie!