A Department of Homeland Security Center of Excellence led by the University of Maryland

Book Talk: Nexus of Global Jihad: Understanding Cooperation Among Terrorist Actors


Book Talk: Nexus of Global Jihad: Understanding Cooperation Among Terrorist Actors

Date: 
Wednesday, October 24, 2018
Time: 
10:30am - 11:30am

On Wednesday, October 24th at 10:30 am at START Headquarters, Assaf Moghadam will give a presentation on his book, Nexus of Global Jihad: Understanding Cooperation Among Terrorist Actors. This event is free and open to the public, but RSVPs are appreciated. If you are not a START affiliate, please email Eva Coll (escoll@umd.edu) if you're interested in attending for more information.

Cooperation among terrorist actors defines and underlies a large and growing part of the contemporary threat posed by terrorism, especially of the global jihadist variety. Jihadist groups such as the Islamic State and Al Qaeda compete with each other for primacy in the global jihad movement by building alliances and lesser partnerships with friends and foes. Informal Salafist and jihadist networks in Europe collaborate with each other both physically or online, and in turn cooperate with formal organizations in places like Iraq or Syria by supplying foreign fighters. Scholars of terrorism and counterterrorism analysts alike are grappling to understand these phenomena.

To shed light on this topic, Nexus of Global Jihad examines how contemporary jihadist terrorist and militant actors cooperate. It advances new theoretical concepts and analytical models that help scholars comprehend the increasingly complex international terrorist nexus, while providing counterterrorism analysts new tools with which to address this threat.

Theoretically, the study relies on the agent-structure debate to argue that contemporary terrorist cooperation must be understood in the context of transformational changes affecting both the actors of terrorism and the enabling environment.

Nexus of Global Jihad constructs a novel, comprehensive, and dynamic typology of terrorist cooperation and argues that established forms of inter-organizational terrorist cooperation are now accompanied by an emerging form of “networked cooperation”. The book also offers a distinction between high-end and low-end forms of cooperation, based on differing qualities of collaborative relationships. To illustrate the model, in-depth case studies using newly declassified primary source material shed new light on Al Qaeda’s relationship with Iran and with Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. The book also explores the Sharia4 movement as a case study of cooperation between informal actors.

Theoretically, the book’s main contribution lies in expanding the scope of the analysis of terrorist cooperation to include a variety of terrorist actors and environmental influences. Practically, it offers several recommendations for policy analysis by recommending the adoption of enhanced means to collect intelligence on informal terrorist actors; constrain the enabling environment; and adopt a tailored approach at disrupting terrorist cooperation that can be adjusted depending on the type of cooperation.

Assaf Moghadam is Associate Professor and Director of the MA Program in Government at the Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) Herzliya, Israel, currently on leave from the IDC until the fall of 2019. He is Director of Academic Affairs at the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism (ICT); a fellow at the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point (CTC); an Adjunct Associate Professor at the Department of Political Science at Columbia University; and a Senior Fellow at the Center on National Security at Fordham Law School (CNS). He also serves as Contributing Editor for the journal Studies in Conflict & Terrorism. He has authored or edited five books on terrorism and political violence, including Nexus of Global Jihad: Understanding Cooperation among Terrorist Actors (Columbia University Press, 2017), and the award winning The Globalization of Martyrdom: Al Qaeda, Salafi Jihad, and the Diffusion of Suicide Attacks (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2008).