CTC Sentinel. Volume 2, Issue 1, January 2009. Al-Qa'ida's Five Aspects of Power
MILITARY ACADEMY WEST POINT NY COMBATING TERRORISM CENTER
Pagination or Media Count:
Seven and a half years after 911, the global community faces a resilient and dangerous al-Qaida. Despite immense efforts to understand al-Qaida, informed analysts disagree widely over its actual strength. Some consider the group a visceral and literal threat to Western civilization. Others proclaim the organization is irrelevant given the isolation of its senior leaders in Pakistans Federally Administered Tribal Areas FATA. Finally, some point to al-Qaidas failure to prosecute meaningful attacks in the United States since 911, and the absence of successful large attacks in the West since the London bombings in 2005, as evidence of the organizations decline. These metrics are important, but they are incomplete and when assessed in isolation lead to false conclusions. Any assessment of al-Qaida must consider al-Qaidas goals and a variety of metrics that capture all aspects of the organizations power. This article examines al-Qaida across five factors that encompass all aspects of the groups power 1 the power to destroy 2 the power to inspire 3 the power to humiliate 4 the power to command and 5 the power to unify. These aspects of power are not unique to al-Qaida, but they are particularly relevant for a terrorist organization with global ambitions and reach.
- Unconventional Warfare