The Evolution of Al Qaeda’s Global Network and Al Qaeda Core’s Position Within it: A Network Analysis

Victoria Barber


There has been much discussion in recent decades regarding the nature of the threat posed by terrorism. In doing so, many have cited the existence of a vast and amorphous global terrorist network, with Al Qaeda at the helm. But is that model a truly accurate one? By using social network analysis to map and track Al Qaeda’s global network from 1996 to 2013, this article seeks to determine whether the global movement is as cohesive and ideologically-driven as it has been made out to be. Ultimately, it finds that not only is that model no longer reflective of Al Qaeda’s global network, it likely never was. In the end, ideological affinity seems to give way to more worldly concerns, and globalization to regional concerns, leaving the idea of a global movement lacking.

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Perspectives on Terrorism is  a journal of the Terrorism Research Initiative and the Center for Terrorism and Security Studies

ISSN  2334-3745 (Online)

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