The al-Qaeda Franchise: The Expansion of al-Qaeda and Its Consequences

Paperback | January 22, 2016

byBarak Mendelsohn

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The al-Qaeda Franchise asks why al-Qaeda adopted a branching-out strategy, introducing seven franchises spread over the Middle East, Africa, and South Asia. After all, transnational terrorist organizations can expand through other organizational strategies. Forming franchises was not aninevitable outgrowth of al-Qaeda's ideology or its U.S.-focused strategy. The efforts to create local franchises have also undermined one of al-Qaeda's primary achievements: the creation of a transnational entity based on religious, not national, affiliation. The book argues that al-Qaeda's branching out strategy was not a sign of strength, but instead a response to its decline in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. Franchising reflected an escalation of al-Qaeda's commitments in response to earlier strategic mistakes, leaders' hubris, and its diminishedcapabilities. Although the introduction of new branches helped al-Qaeda create a frightening image far beyond its actual capabilities, ultimately this strategy neither increased the al-Qaeda threat, nor enhanced the organization's political objectives. In fact, the rise of ISIS from an al-Qaedabranch to the dominant actor in the jihadi camp demonstrates how expansion actually incurred heavy costs for al-Qaeda. The al-Qaeda Franchise goes beyond explaining the adoption of a branching out strategy, also exploring particular expansion choices. Through nine case studies, it analyzes why al-Qaeda formed branches in some arenas but not others, and why its expansion in some locations, such as Yemen, took the form of in-house franchising (with branches run by al-Qaeda's own fighters), while other locations, such as Iraq and Somalia, involvedmerging with groups already operating in the target arena. It ends with an assessment of al-Qaeda's future in light of the turmoil in the Middle East, the ascendance of ISIS, and US foreign policy.

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From the Publisher

The al-Qaeda Franchise asks why al-Qaeda adopted a branching-out strategy, introducing seven franchises spread over the Middle East, Africa, and South Asia. After all, transnational terrorist organizations can expand through other organizational strategies. Forming franchises was not aninevitable outgrowth of al-Qaeda's ideology or its...

Barak Mendelsohn is an Associate Professor of Political Science at Haverford College, a research fellow at Harvard's Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, and a senior fellow at the Philadelphia-based Foreign Policy Research Institute (FPRI). He specializes in radical Islamist organizations, with an emphasis on al-Qaeda ...

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:288 pages, 9.02 × 6.1 × 0.91 inPublished:January 22, 2016Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:019020561X

ISBN - 13:9780190205614

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Table of Contents

1. Introduction2. Formal Organizational Expansion: A Theoretical Framework3. The Puzzle of a Branching-Out Strategy4. Explaining al-Qaeda's Franchising Strategy5. Explaining Arena Choices: Two Perspectives6. Stepping Into Uncharted Territory: Al-Qaeda's First Expansions7. Spreading: Al-Qaeda's Branches in Algeria, Yemen, and Somalia8. Absent: Al-Qaeda and the Egyptian, Libyan, and Palestinian Arenas9. Upstaged: Al-Qaeda and the Syrian Civil War10. ConclusionsBibliography

Editorial Reviews

"The al-Qaeda Franchise offers a superb exploration of the causes, nature, and consequences of the expansion strategy of one of the principal terrorist threats of modern times. Combining deep subject matter expertise with high standards of social scientific inquiry, Mendelsohn's thorough andtimely study offers new insights that will be sure to garner the attention of policymakers, academics, and general readers concerned with the evolutionary processes of transnational terrorist actors." --Assaf Moghadam, Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya (IDC)