“The best new book on al Qaeda . . . and the best book on Yemen in years.”—Bruce Riedel, Daily Beast Far from the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan, the United States and al-Qaeda are fighting a clandestine war of drones and suicide bombers in an unforgiving corner of Arabia. The Last Refuge charts the rise, fall, and resurrection of al-Qaeda in Yemen over the last thirty years, detailing how a group that the United States once defeated has now become one of the world’s most dangerous threats. An expert on Yemen who has spent years on the ground there, Gregory D. Johnsen uses al-Qaeda’s Arabic battle notes to reconstruct their world as they take aim at the United States and its allies. Johnsen brings readers in-side al-Qaeda’s training camps and safe houses as the terrorists plot poison attacks and debate how to bring down an airliner on Christmas Day. The Last Refuge is an eye-opening look at the successes and failures of fighting a new type of war in one of the most turbulent countries in the world.
An exclusive inside account of how and why al-Qaeda is rebuilding in the unforgiving deserts of Yemen ‘Exhausted and on the run, it looked like the end for the small band of men. Looking at the few who had followed him into the desert, Muhammad said, “When disaster threatens, seek refuge in Yemen”… Yemen was the last refuge.’ Far from the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan, in an unforgiving corner of Arabia, the US and al-Qaeda are fighting a clandestine war of drones and suicide bombers. The battles began in 2006, when twenty-three men tunnelled out of a maximum-security prison in Yemen’s capital to their freedom. Later they were joined by a dozen men released from Guantánamo Bay. Together, they formed the core of al-Qaeda on the Arabian Peninsula – and now they and their recruits stand ready to hijack the Arab Spring, from the streets of Syria to hotspots much closer to home. In The Last Refuge, al-Qaeda scholar Gregory D. Johnsen charts the rise, the fall, and the ultimate resurrection of al-Qaeda in Yemen – given new life through a combustion of civil wars, Afghan refugees, and Muhammad’s prophetic teachings. Johnsen brings us inside al-Qaeda’s training camps and safe houses as the terrorists plot poison attacks and debate how to bring down a plane on Christmas Day. Based on years of on-the-ground interviews and never-before-translated al-Qaeda battle notes, he delivers a riveting and incisive investigation of the state of the Middle East.
The Last Refuge: Yemen, Al-Qaeda, and America’s War in Arabia by Gregory D. Johnsen. Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company. Yemen: Revolution, Civil War, and Unification by Uzi Rabi. Publisher: I.B. Tauris. Unfinished Revolutions: Yemen, Libya, and Tunisia after the Arab Spring by Ibrahim Fraihat. Publisher: Yale University Press. Tribes and States in a Changing Middle East Edited by Uzi Rabi. Publisher: Oxford University Press
How America's Partners Help and Hinder the War on Terror
Author: Stephen Tankel
Publisher: Columbia University Press
Category: Political Science
Counterterrorism requires working with partners that both help and hinder U.S. interests. Consider the United States’ post-9/11 partnership with Pakistan—on one hand, the country provided key counterterrorism cooperation in the War on Terror; at the same time, it remained a state sponsor of terrorism that supported multiple militant organizations, some of which had American blood on their hands. Nonetheless, cooperation with otherwise ‘unfriendly’ states is often unavoidable. With Us and Against Us examines how counterterrorism partnerships after 9/11 critically differ both from the ones that existed beforehand and from traditional alliances. Tankel posits that countries form effective alliances against a terror group when each party to the alliance perceives and prioritizes the threat posed by the group in the same way and does not view the group as vital to advancing its national interests. Focusing on U.S. partnerships with Algeria, Egypt, Mali, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Yemen against al-Qaeda, ISIS and other jihadist organizations, Tankel analyzes what the U.S. can expect from its counterterrorism partners depending on the country’s set of incentives, threat perceptions, and larger security paradigm. In mapping these partnerships, Tankel argues that although the end of the Cold War and then 9/11 transformed the U.S. security paradigm, the security paradigms of many partner nations in the Middle East, Africa, and South Asia did not change nearly as dramatically. This concept should serve a lodestar when assessing the cooperation partners provide, as well as how these relationships might evolve as future terrorist threats emerge.
A Primer on the U.S. Use of Unmanned Aircraft Outside Conventional Battlefields
Author: Avery Plaw
Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield
Category: Political Science
The Drone Debate offers a thorough investigation of the where, why, how, and when of the U.S.’s use of UAVs. Beginning with a historical overview of the use of drones in warfare, it then addresses whether targeted killing operations are strategically wise, whether they are permissible under international law, and the related ethical issues. It also looks at the political factors behind the use of drones, including domestic and global attitudes toward their use and potential issues of proliferation and escalation. Finally, the use of drones by other countries, such as Israel and China, is examined. Each chapter features a case study that highlights particular incidents and patterns of operation in specific regions, including Yemen, Somalia, Pakistan, and Libya and strike types (signature strikes, personality strikes, etc.).
This anthology—the second of an initial two volume set—specifically covers Small Wars Journal writings on Al Qaeda and the Islamic State spanning the years 2012-2014. This set is meant to contribute to U.S. security debates focusing on radical Islamist global insurgency by collecting diverse SWJ essays into more easily accessible formats. Small Wars Journal has long been a leader in insurgency and counterinsurgency research and scholarship with an emphasis on practical applications and policy outcomes in furtherance of U.S. global and allied nation strategic interests. The site is able to lay claim to supporting the writings of many COIN (counterinsurgency) practitioners. This includes Dr. David Kilcullen whose early work dating from late 2004 “Countering Global Insurgency” helped to lay much of the conceptual basis focusing on this threat and as a result greatly helped to facilitate the writings that were later incorporated into these Al Qaeda and Islamic State focused anthologies. This volume is composed of sixty-six chapters divided into sections on a) radical Islamist OPFORs (opposition forces) and context and b) U.S.—allied policy and counter radical Islamist strategies. The work also contains a preface by Matt Begert, a foreword by Dr. Daveed Gartenstein-Ross and Bridget Moreng, an introduction, a postscript, an extensive notes section, and editor and contributor biographies on sixty-four individuals as well as an acronyms listing and an initial ‘About SWJ’ and foundation section.
This fascinating reference chronicles the individuals, operations, and events of the War on Terror around the world, exploring its causes and consequences through the lens of policy, doctrine, and tactics of combat. • Features a timeline that enables readers to quickly grasp the succession of key events and developments in the War on Terror • Highlights specific individuals on both sides of this conflict, providing an objective and fair-minded approach to the topic • Provides a bibliography that directs students toward additional sources of information for further research • Connects related entries through helpful cross references
The Past, Present, and Future of Islamic Militancy
Author: Jason Burke
Publisher: The New Press
Category: Political Science
From Syria to Somalia, from Libya to Indonesia, from Yemen to the capitals of Europe, Islamic militancy appears stronger, more widespread, and more threatening than ever. In The New Threat prizewinning frontline reporter Jason Burke cuts through the mass of opinion and misinformation to explain the nature of the threat we now face. Shortlisted for the Orwell Prize, The New Threat offers insight into the rise of ISIS and other groups, such as Boko Haram, which together command significant military power, rule millions, and control extensive territories. Elsewhere, Al Qaeda remains potent and is rapidly evolving. As a new generation of Western extremists emerges—as seen by the horrifying attacks in Paris and Brussels as well as the "lone wolf" operatives in the United States—Burke argues it is imperative that we understand who these groups are and what they actually want.