Why Failing Terrorist Groups Persist Revisited: A Social Network Approach to AQIM Network Resilience
[Technical Report, Master's Thesis]
Naval Postgraduate School
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To date, most analyses of the Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb AQIM network have focused on qualitative analysis to determine trends and patterns in the groups evolution over time. Seldom has a combination of quantitative tools been used to derive inferences about the nature of the organization and its changing strategy. In this paper, the author draws on a combination of geospatial analysis and social network analysis in order to explore how the network has changed over time in response to efforts from local and international security forces to disrupt it. The analysis enables the community of interest to draw conclusions with regard to the resiliency of the network and its long-term goals in the Sahel region. Evidence indicates that AQIM is evolving into a less dense but more ethnically diverse organization that is rapidly restoring the operational capacity it lost during the 2013 French intervention in Mali. Despite major Western military efforts to suppress it, AQIM is increasingly able to conduct spectacular attacks across west Africa, further destabilizing an already precarious security environment. The thesis concludes with recommendations for crafting a strategy tailored to degrading and containing the threat from AQIM and its affiliates.
- Unconventional Warfare