The al-Qaeda Franchise: The Expansion of al-Qaeda and Its Consequences

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9780190205614: The al-Qaeda Franchise: The Expansion of al-Qaeda and Its Consequences

The al-Qaeda Franchise asks why al-Qaeda adopted a branching-out strategy, introducing seven franchises spread over the Middle East, Africa, and South Asia. After all, transnational terrorist organizations can expand through other organizational strategies. Forming franchises was not an inevitable outgrowth of al-Qaeda's ideology or its U.S.-focused strategy. The efforts to create local franchises have also undermined one of al-Qaeda's primary achievements: the creation of a transnational entity based on religious, not national, affiliation.

The book argues that al-Qaeda's branching out strategy was not a sign of strength, but instead a response to its decline in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. Franchising reflected an escalation of al-Qaeda's commitments in response to earlier strategic mistakes, leaders' hubris, and its diminished capabilities. Although the introduction of new branches helped al-Qaeda create a frightening image far beyond its actual capabilities, ultimately this strategy neither increased the al-Qaeda threat, nor enhanced the organization's political objectives. In fact, the rise of ISIS from an al-Qaeda branch to the dominant actor in the jihadi camp demonstrates how expansion actually incurred heavy costs for al-Qaeda. The al-Qaeda Franchise goes beyond explaining the adoption of a branching out strategy, also exploring particular expansion choices.

Through nine case studies, it analyzes why al-Qaeda formed branches in some arenas but not others, and why its expansion in some locations, such as Yemen, took the form of in-house franchising (with branches run by al-Qaeda's own fighters), while other locations, such as Iraq and Somalia, involved merging with groups already operating in the target arena. It ends with an assessment of al-Qaeda's future in light of the turmoil in the Middle East, the ascendance of ISIS, and US foreign policy.

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About the Author:

Barak Mendelsohn is an Associate Professor of Political Science at Haverford College, a research fellow at Harvard's Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, and a senior fellow at the Philadelphia-based Foreign Policy Research Institute (FPRI). He specializes in radical Islamist organizations, with an emphasis on al-Qaeda and the Islamic State. His research interests also cover Middle East security, terrorism and counter-terrorism, U.S. foreign policy, and questions of international order.


"The al-Qaeda Franchise is an excellent study of one of the most important issues in terrorism today: the disposition of and threat posed by Al Qaeda's many allies in the greater Middle East. Employing informed theory, careful research methods, and detailed empirics, Mendelsohn explains why and how Al Qaeda picks allies as well as the tensions and opportunities for counterterrorism that result."
-Daniel Byman, Senior Fellow, Center for Middle East Policy, Brookings Institution

"An extremely illuminating discussion of an important, neglected subject-the cooperative and organizational expansions of terrorist groups. The focus is on Al-Qaeda, showing how its expansion and decline are intimately related. All students of terrorism will find this intriguing, unique analysis very valuable."
-David C. Rapoport, Founding Editor, Terrorism and Political Violence

"The al-Qaeda Franchise is an authoritative contribution to our understanding of both organizational trajectories and decision-making in transnational terrorism."
-Martha Crenshaw, Center for International Security and Cooperation, Stanford University

"The al-Qaeda Franchise offers a superb exploration of the causes, nature, and consequences of the expansion strategy of one of the principal terrorist threats of modern times. Combining deep subject matter expertise with high standards of social scientific inquiry, Mendelsohn's thorough and timely study offers new insights that will be sure to garner the attention of policymakers, academics, and general readers concerned with the evolutionary processes of transnational terrorist actors."
-Assaf Moghadam, Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya (IDC)

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Mendelsohn, Barak
Verlag: Oxford University Press, Oxford (2016)
ISBN 10: 019020561X ISBN 13: 9780190205614
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Buchbeschreibung Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2016. g.e. Gr.-8° Olnbd. en 274 pp. Artikel-Nr. 61404055

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