Quite often when I am doing speaking engagements, client briefings or press interviews, I am asked questions like: “Given the events in Syria and Libya, is the jihadist movement stronger than ever?” It is a good question, but it is also one that is not easily answered in a five-second sound bite or a succinct quote for print media — it really requires some detailed explanation. Because of this, I’ve decided to take some time to provide a more thorough treatment of the subject in written form for Stratfor readers. As I thought through the various aspects of the topic, I came to believe that adequately covering it requires more than one Security Weekly, so I will dedicate a series of articles to it.
When gauging the current state of the jihadist movement, I believe it is useful to use two different standards. The first is to take jihadists’ goals and objectives and measure their progress toward achieving them. The second is to take a look at insurgent theory and terrorism models to see what they can tell us about the state of jihadist militant networks and their efforts. This week we will discuss the first standard: the jihadists’ goals and objectives. Next week we will discuss insurgency and terrorism theories, and then once we have established these two benchmarks we can use them to see how the various elements of the jihadist movement measure up.