Date of Completion


Embargo Period



Jeremy Pressman, Daniel Weiner, Alexander Anievas

Field of Study

International Studies


Master of Arts

Open Access

Campus Access


Al Qaeda القاعدة, begun its initial formation under Osama Bin Laden’s leadership following the 1989 withdrawal of Soviet troops in Afghanistan. From 1988 until September 11, 2001, Al Qaeda enjoyed freedom of mobility alongside the Taliban in Afghanistan and along the Afghan-Pakistani border. Following the United States invasion of Afghanistan, al Qaeda was forced to decentralize and evolve into franchised branches in order to stay relevant. Although al Qaeda has many loose affiliates across North Africa, the Middle East and Southeast Asia, its official franchised branches exist Iraq (Al Qaeda in Iraq), Syria (Al-Nusra, now referred to as Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham), the Maghreb (Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb), the Arabian Peninsula (Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula) and the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS). Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula or Yemen is considered the group’s most lethal branch, posing significant security threats to the region and Western interests abroad. Recently under Ayman al-Zawahiri’s leadership, al Qaeda has continued its expansion into the Indian Subcontinent, utilizing its alliances in Pakistan. While Osama Bin Laden’s death and the War in Afghanistan significantly damaged al Qaeda’s central leadership abilities, it did not destroy the network entirely. Al Qaeda is no longer a centralized entity, but instead a loose coalition of regional branches with localized strategies on a global level.

Major Advisor

Jeremy Pressman