http://lynch.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2010/12/17/al_qaedas_self_inflicted_woundsFriday, December 17, 2010 - 10:55 AM Share
Self-Inflicted Wounds gives a realistic sense of where al Qaeda really fits within the map of Islamism, neither minimizing nor exaggerating its threat. It demonstrates powerfully the value of disaggregating the challenge posed by various Islamist movements rather than lumping them together into a single, undifferentiated menace. It's slightly dated now, since most of the chapters were completed more than a year ago, and it doesn't quite capture the rise of the franchises such as AQAP or the new trend of small-scale attempted attacks. But despite that inevitable limitation, I believe it makes a very significant contribution to our understanding of al Qaeda and its milieu. It demonstrates how essential it is to understand these movements from within and on their own terms, and how counterproductive it is to ignore those distinctions.
Edited by Brian Fishman and Assaf Moghadam, the volume contains chapters by an impressive lineup including Steven Brooke, Brynjar Lia, Bernard Haykal, Reuven Paz, Vahid Brown, Mohammed Hafez, Anne Stenerson, and me. The volume makes a strong case for the problems al-Qaeda has faced with other Islamist movements (including the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas and Hezbollah), with non-Arab Muslims and with Shi'a Muslims, and within its own ranks. A longer version, with additional chapters and topics, will be published later this year as a book. Great work from Fishman, Moghadam, and all the contributors -- I'm proud to be a part of it.
You can download the report here (PDF).