12 years on from the devastating 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Centres in New York, the Obama Administration claims that Al Qaeda is on the verge of destruction. However, the closure of 20 diplomatic institutions throughout the Middle East in August, the intensification of drone attacks in Yemen in the last months that have reportedly killed 34 high-level Al Qaeda suspects, the full-scale military campaign in Mali to drive out Al Qaeda and the ongoing presence of Al Qaeda among the Syrian opposition suggest that the group is undergoing a resurgence.
This report explains that Al Qaeda’s effectiveness should not be judged by its actions or by its ability to avoid or survive counter-terrorism initiatives; rather, it should be judged by a complex matrix of six main indicators of effectiveness. These indicators are size, nature of organisational design, secrecy, power of representation, interests it protects and cohesion. This index can be used to judge the effectiveness of any jihadist group and conclusions can be drawn not by focusing on just one indicator but rather by balancing the success and failure of all of them and investigating the interplay between them. By using this index, it will also be possible to anticipate its potential for future effectiveness; by extension, counter-terrorism strategy should be developed with these aspects in mind.
Quilliam President, Noman Benotman, says, “This index is a valuable new tool to assess the effectiveness of Al Qaeda. Very often, too much emphasis is put on just one of these indicators or on other things entirely – it is important to analyse all six aspects of this matrix to get a true sense of Al Qaeda’s current and future capabilities.