Terrorism history/analysis

Your readings for this paper topic consist of Wright, Hegghammer, and especially Joby Warrick’s Black Flags, Parts I and II. While the book serves as a history of the insurgent group ISIS up to about 2010-2011, it focuses primarily on the person of abu Musab al Zarqawi, who led the Iraqi chapter of Al Qaeda from the American-led invasion of 2003 to his death in 2006. To most observers, the Iraqi chapter seemed to be very much under the control of al Qaeda’s senior leadership, especially Osama bin Laden, during this time—however, just a few years later the two groups split and became bitter rivals. Why was this? What differences already existed between the Iraqi chapter of al Qaeda and al Qaeda’s central command in 2004-2006 that led the two groups to split by 2014? To develop this question, you should contrast the origins of al Qaeda as discussed in Wright, Law, and the PowerPoint, with Zarqawi and his influence on the Iraqi chapter, as discussed in the lecture and by Warrick. Zarqawi was very different from Osama Bin laden and Ayman al Zawahiri in personality, background, and ideology. How did these leadership differences influence the evolution of jihadism after 9/11? At the same time, go beyond Zarqawi—after all, the Iraqi franchise did not officially split with al Qaeda until years after his death. How did the experience of war, occupation, and civil war affect the formation and radicalization of the Iraqi franchise from 2003-2007? How did it affect the ideology of the Iraqi franchise and its understanding of the possibility of Islamic revolution? Again, briefly contrast these ideas with the ideas of al Qaeda’s central command. What do these differences suggest about the overall nature of global jihad in the decades after the 9/11 attacks?

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