William Braniff, executive director of the START Consortium, served as an expert witness providing Congressional testimony on “The State of Al Qaeda, its Affiliates, and Associated Groups,” before the House Armed Services Committee Feb. 4, 2014.
Featuring START data and analyses from the Global Terrorism Database and the Big, Allied and Dangerous Project, Braniff discussed how 2012 was the most active year of terrorism on record and that the six deadliest terrorist groups in 2012 all had alliance connections to al-Qaida. The data places al-Qaida at the center of a lethal list of organizations including the Taliban; Boko Haram; al-Qaida Iraq; Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan; al-Qaida Arabian Peninsula; and al-Shabaab.
Braniff also spoke on al-Qaida’s significant influence on the violent jihadist landscape historically, and how this influence continues to be relevant despite the absence of al-Qaida attacks in 2012. In his written and spoken testimony, Braniff answered the following questions:
- “Did al‐Qaida succeed by inspiring widespread jihadism, or has it lost to a variety of more popular, parochial actors?”
- “What should we take from the seemingly contradictory developments of a popular rejection of al-Qaida on the world stage just a few years ago, and record-setting levels of jihadist violence over the last two years?”
Braniff, William. 2014. "Testimony before the United States House Armed Services Committee Hearing on the State of Al Qaeda, its Affiliates, and Associated Groups: View From Outside Experts." Washington, DC: United States House of Representatives. (February): http://www.start.umd.edu/pubs/STARTCongressionalTestimony_StateofAQandAffiliates_WilliamBraniff.pdf.