"While it was not the first country where the United States used drones, [Pakistan] became the laboratory for the targeted killing operations that have come to define a new American way of fighting, blurring the line between soldiers and spies and short-circuiting the normal mechanisms by which the United States as a nation goes to war."
What is the Obama administration's legal justification for targeted killings? CFR national security expert John Bellinger explores this question as well as others with significant implications for U.S. counterterrorism.
As the French-led military forces retake northern Mali, [AQIM emir Abdelmalek] Droukdel's eight month old letter should resonate as an ominous warning as it points to a long-term strategic plan to outlive the intervention and sets the stage for a potentially successful return. Clearly, under Droukdel's leadership, AQIM has no intention of relinquishing northern Mali.
In the wake of the U.S. withdrawal, a resurgent al-Qaeda in Iraq, allied with jihadist fighters in neighboring Syria, constitutes a considerable threat to regional security, explains this Backgrounder.
Authors: Mark Mazzetti, Charlie Savage, and Scott Shane
This account of what led to the [Anwar al-]Awlaki strike, based on interviews with three dozen current and former legal and counterterrorism officials and outside experts, fills in new details of the legal, intelligence and military challenges faced by the Obama administration in what proved to be a landmark episode in American history and law.
This report looks at why extremist strategic communications in Pakistan have been so successful and what it would take for the government and its allies to reverse the gains of what is sometimes called "the al-Qaeda worldview." Like all good communications campaigns, extremist messaging is grounded in a reality. In this case, that reality is the views and emotions—and the narratives that articulate them—that were born out of the establishment and subsequent conduct of the state of Pakistan.
Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and Joint Chief of Staff General Martin E. Dempsey testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on February 7, 2013, about the September attacks on the U.S. Embassy in Benghazi, Libya and the response of the Defense Department. Panetta's and Dempsey's prepared remarks and video of the hearing are available on the Committee's website.
Al-Qaeda's affiliates "provide new justification for the Obama administration's efforts to turn elements of its counterterrorism policies, including kill lists and drone bases, into fixtures for a fight expected to last another decade or more."
Jihadists were already finding it hard to operate in North Africa before the Arab Spring of 2011. Since then their problems have become almost insurmountable: they thrive only in countries where Islamists are in prison, not where they are in the ascendant or contesting elections. As for Europe, the last attacks instigated by al-Qaida date back to Madrid in 2004 and London in 2005. Jihadism looks less like a rising phenomenon in the north of Mali than a force in retreat. The French intervention may well give them purpose and greater coherence.
The Council on Foreign Relations' David Rockefeller Studies Program—CFR's "think tank"—is home to more than seventy full-time, adjunct, and visiting scholars and practitioners (called "fellows"). Their expertise covers the world's major regions as well as the critical issues shaping today's global agenda. Download the printable CFR Experts Guide.