The Resurgence of Al-Qaeda in Syria and Iraq

The Resurgence of Al-Qaeda in Syria and Iraq
The Resurgence of Al-Qaeda in Syria and Iraq
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The Syrian civil war has allowed al-Qaeda to recover from its setbacks up to 2010. Its main affiliate in the region seems to be testing a new strategy of collaboration with other Salafist-Jihadist groups and a less brutal implementation of Sharia law in areas it controls. In combination, this might allow the Al-Nusrah front to carve out the sort of territorial control of a region (or state) that al-Qaeda has sought ever since its eviction from Afghanistan. On the other hand, Syria has also seen a civil war between two Al-Qaeda inspired factions (Al Nusrah and the Iraq based Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant [ISIS]) and indicates there are limits to its ability to cooperate with other anti-Assad factions and gain popular appeal. The extent that the Syrian civil war offers the means for al-Qaeda to recover from its earlier defeats will determine whether the organization has a future, or if it will become simply an ideology and label adopted by various Islamist movements fighting their own separate struggles.


AZEEM IBRAHIM served as a Research Fellow at the International Security Program of the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, a World Fellow at Yale, Fellow and Member of the Board of Directors at the Institute for Social Policy Understanding, and an Adjunct Research Professor at the Strategic Studies Institute, U.S. Army War College. He has met and advised a number of world leaders and governments on a diverse range of issues ranging from financial investment, to geopolitics, to countering extremism. He served as a reservist in the United Kingdom’s 4th Battalion Parachute Regiment. Dr. Ibrahim holds a Ph.D. from the University of Cambridge.

Other products relating to this topic of interest may include the following:

United States Congressional Serial Set, Serial No. 15060, House Report No. 615, Al-Qaeda, the Many Faces of an Islamist Extremist Threat can be found at this link:

Countering Radicalization and Recruitment to Al-Qaeda: Fighting the War of Deeds can be found at this link:

Al-Qaida After Ten Years of War: A Global Perspective of Successes, Failures, and Prospects --print format can be found at this link: --ePub format can be found at this link:

Armed Groups: Studies in National Security, Counterterrorism, and Counterinsurgency-- print format can be found at this link: --eBook format can be found at this link:

United States Code, 2012 Edition, V. 16, Title 22, Foreign Relations and Intercourse, Sections 2151-End can be found at this link:


The Strategic Studies Institute offers this monograph for consideration in the ongoing discussion regarding Al-Qaeda and the organizations affiliated with it.  Political scientists, historians, military personnel, law enforcement and the intelligence community, national security strategists, and analysts may be interested in this work.  Undergraduate and graduate students studying international relations, global politics and homeland security may be interested in this text.

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Defense Dept., Army, Strategic Studies Institute; and Army War College
  • Ibrahim, Azeem
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Key Phrases:
  • Resurgence of Al-Qaeda in Syria and Iraq
  • Al-Qaeda
  • Syria
  • Iraq
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