Jordan Publishes Analysis on Future of Terrorism After U.S. Kills al-Qaida Leader

Jenna Jordan

Posted August 16, 2022

Jenna Jordan, associate professor and associate chair in the Sam Nunn School of International Affairs, published an analysis in The Washington Post titled "The U.S. Killed al-Qaida’s Leader. That Might Boost Terrorism."

In it, she describes how the United States killing al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri might actually provide the terrorist organization with room to grow. Jordan argues that organizational structure, popular support, and ideology are the three main factors in determining whether capturing or killing terrorist leaders will hurt or inspire a terrorist group.

"Killing a terrorist group’s leader can reassure Americans that their government is engaged in the war on terrorism," Jordan writes. "It’s a highly visible, low-cost alternative to large-scale military operations or efforts to reshape governments. But policymakers may wish to be realistic about what decapitation can actually achieve — and consider the possibility that attacks on high-profile leaders may increase terrorism under new and more effective leadership."

Read the full analysis in The Washington Post.

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