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

A consortium of researchers dedicated to improving the understanding of the human causes and consequences of terrorism

Understanding Al-Qa’ida’s Business Model

Understanding Al-Qa’ida’s Business Model


During the past four years, two seemingly distinct and ostensibly contradictory narratives have emerged regarding the capability, positioning, and operational strategy of al-Qa`ida. On the one hand, many government leaders and counterterrorism experts have asserted that al-Qa`ida is weakening and too impotent to conduct large-scale attacks—as evidenced by the dearth of al-Qa`ida fighters in Afghanistan, its decreasing financial coffers, and its perceived operational incompetence in executing major attacks against the United States and the West. On the other hand, there are clear examples of al-Qa`ida’s ability to successfully influence and facilitate smaller scale attacks against the United States and around the world—as evidenced by Nidal Hasan’s attack at Fort Hood, the recent airliner packages plot, and Umar Farouk Abdulmuttallab’s attempted attack on an airliner near Detroit on Christmas Day 2009. How does one reconcile these seemingly paradoxical reflections of al-Qa`ida and gain greater conceptual clarity into how al-Qa`ida has evolved as an organization?

Publication Information

Full Citation: 

Gallo, Alex. 2011. "Understanding Al-Qa’ida’s Business Model." CTC Sentinel (January). https://ctc.usma.edu/posts/understanding-al-qaida%E2%80%99s-business-model

Publication URL: 
Visit Website

Additional Info

Research Area: