The Forgotten Jihadists: the Resurgence of Al Qaeda?
Dr Omar Ashour, Senior Lecturer, Security Studies, University of Exeter
Adrian Levy, Co-Author, The Exile: The Flight of Osama bin Laden
Cathy Scott-Clark, Co-Author, The Exile: The Flight of Osama bin Laden
Chair: Dr Christina Hellmich, Associate Professor, Politics and International Relations, University of Reading
Since the death of their founder, Osama Bin Laden in 2011, Al Qaeda have lost territory in Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq. At the same time, the world has witnessed the rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and so Al Qaeda has seemingly been pushed into the periphery of discussions around combatting extremism. Yet the threat from the Jihadist organization has never disappeared and it has been rebuilding. The central leadership overseen by Ayman al-Zawahiri and buoyed by the emergence of Bin Laden’s son and heir, Hamza, remains committed to harming the West. Its regional chapters, particularly Jabhat Fatah al-Sham in Syria, are also building renewed support by distancing themselves from the savagery of ISIS and conducting soft-power outreach to community leaders.
Drawing on findings from their new book,The Exile: The Stunning Inside Story of Osama Bin Laden and Al Qaeda In Flight, award winning investigative journalists, Cathy Scott-Clark and Adrian Levy will assess the resurgence of Al Qaeda in the Middle East in light of recent ISIS defeats. What will be Al Qaeda’s main focus moving forward? How has this group’s past mistakes impacted its present standing and ideology? And what relevance does Iran have as a country that has reportedly sheltered members of the Bin Laden family and the Al Qaeda ruling council since 2002?