The Changing Strategic Gravity of Al Qaeda

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** Ambassador Daniel Benjamin’s speech is available for download at the bottom of this page **

To Register for the post-conference debrief, please email


8:30 A.M.


9:00 A.M.

Glen E. Howard

President, The Jamestown Foundation


9:05 A.M.

Daniel Benjamin

Coordinator for Counterterrorism, U.S. Department of State

Panel One

Defining Al Qaeda’s Center of Gravity: Ideology, Population, and Safe Havens

9:20 A.M. – 10:30 A.M.


Dr. Sebastian Gorka

Military Affairs Fellow, Foundation for Defense of Democracies & Associate Fellow, Joint Special Operations University (SOCOM)

Murad Batal al-Shishani

"The Importance of Safe Havens to Al Qaeda’s Strategy – Why They Matter"

Analyst, The Jamestown Foundation

Stephen Ulph

"Is Ideology the Jihadist’s Safe Haven?"

Senior Fellow, the Jamestown Foundation

Dr. Tawfiq Hamid

Senior Fellow & Chair for the Study of Islamic Radicalism, Potomac Institute for Policy Studies

Q & A

Coffee Break
10:30 A.M. – 10:45 A.M.

Panel Two

The Changing Dynamics of the Af-Pak Theatre

10:45 A.M. – 12:15 P.M.

Lieutenant General Abdul Hadi Khalid

"Afghanistan’s Strategy in Fighting the Taliban"

Former First Deputy Minister of the Interior for Security, Afghanistan

Thomas Ruttig

"Major Actors and Leadership in the Taliban Insurgency"

Co-Director and Senior Analyst, Afghanistan Analysts Network (AAN)

Dr. Hassan Abbas

"Pakistan’s Counterterrorism Strategy – Swat, FATA and Punjab"

Bernard Schwartz Fellow at the Asia Society and Senior Advisor at the Belfer Center, Harvard Kennedy School of Government

Q & A

*Luncheon and Keynote Address*

12:30 P.M.

Bruce Riedel

Senior Fellow, Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution and Author of The Search for al Qaeda: Its Leadership, Ideology and Future

Panel Three

Terrorism Trends in South Asia

1:30 P.M. – 3:00 P.M.

Animesh Roul

"Terrorist Financing Networks in South Asia"

Executive Director of Research, Society for the Study of Peace and Conflict (SSPC)

Dr. Zach Abuza

"One Step Forward, Two Steps Back: Trends in Islamist Terrorism and Insurgency in Southeast Asia"

Professor of Political Science, Simmons College

Noor Huda Ismail

"Radicalization Inside Indonesian Prisons & Its Implications for Regional Security"

Executive Director, Institute of International Peace Building

Q &A

Coffee Break

3:00 P.M. – 3:15 P.M.

Panel Four

Islamist Movements in the Horn of Africa

3:15 – 4:45 P.M.

Ambassador David H. Shinn

"Al Shabaab and the Future of Somalia"

Adjunct Professor of International Affairs, George Washington University & Former United States Ambassador to Ethiopia

Brian O’Neill

"Shifting Dynamics of the Security  Situation in Yemen"

Independent Analyst and Regional Security Expert

Dr. Andrew McGregor

"Whose Islam? Factionalization in the Somali Islamist Movement"

Director, Aberfoyle International Security & Managing Editor of the Global Terrorism Analysis Program, The Jamestown Foundation

Andrew Black

"Arms Trafficking in the Horn of Africa"

Managing Editor, Black Watch Global


5:00 P.M.


Post-Conference Debrief

Roundtable Q & A with Select Conference Experts

Thursday, December 10, 2009

8:30 A.M. – 4:00 P.M.

$75.00 per person

(Q & A Session is off the record and not for attribution)

Location – TBD

*Interested parties, please email with your name and affiliation for information regarding registration*

Conference Biographies

Bruce Riedel

Bruce Riedel is a Senior Fellow in the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution.   He retired in 2006 after 30 years of service at the Central Intelligence Agency including postings overseas. He was a senior advisor on South Asia and the Middle East to four Presidents of the United States in the staff of the National Security Council at the White House. He was a negotiator at several Arab-Israeli peace summits including at Camp David and Wye River.  He was also Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for the Near East and South Asia at the Pentagon and a senior advisor at the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in Brussels.  In January 2009 President Barack Obama asked him to chair a review of American policy towards Afghanistan and Pakistan the results of which the President announced in a speech on March 27, 2009. He is the author of The Search for al Qaeda:  Its Leadership, Ideology and Future published by Brookings Press.  He teaches at Georgetown University and SAIS.

Hassan Abbas

Dr. Hassan Abbas is an Affiliate with the Belfer Center and a former joint research fellow with Project on Managing the Atom and the International Security Program from 2005–2009. Currently, he is a Bernard Schwartz Fellow at the Asia Society’s New York headquarters working on U.S. relations with South and Central Asia. He is also a non-resident Fellow at the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding (ISPU), Michigan, and an Associate of the Pakistan Security Research Unit (PSRU), University of Bradford, in the United Kingdom. He received his Ph.D. from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University, and an LL.M. in International Law from Nottingham University, United Kingdom, where he was a Britannia Chevening Scholar (1999). Hassan also remained a fellow at the Islamic Legal Studies Program at Harvard Law School (2002–2003) and as a visiting scholar at the Harvard Law School’s Program on Negotiation (2003–2004). In association with the Belfer Center, he is currently working on a project focusing on police reforms and counterinsurgency in Pakistan.

Hassan is a former Pakistani government official who served in the administrations of Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto (1995–1996) and President Pervez Musharraf (1999–2000). His latest book, Pakistan’s Drift into Extremism: Allah, the Army and America’s War on Terror (M.E. Sharpe) has been on bestseller lists in India and Pakistan and was widely reviewed internationally, including by the New York Times, the Boston Globe, Far Eastern Economic Review, The Hindu, and Dawn.

Zachary Abuza

Dr. Zachary Abuza is a Professor of Political Science at Simmons College, Boston, where he specializes in Southeast Asian politics and security issues. He is a graduate of Trinity College and received his MALD and PHD from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. His most recent book is entitled Conspiracy of Silence: The Insurgency in Southern Thailand.  A study of Jemaah Islamiyah’s overt strategy of engaging in social welfare and charitable works, entitled "Jemaah Islamiyah: Indonesia’s Hezbollah," was published in the Winter 2009 edition of the journal Middle East Quarterly. He has completed a chapter on the disengagement and rehabilitation of terrorist suspects in Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia, published in Leaving Terrorism Behind: Disengagement from Political Violence and edited by John Horgan.

Daniel Benjamin

Daniel Benjamin was sworn in as Coordinator for Counterterrorism at the Department of State with the rank of Ambassador-at-Large on May 28, 2009.  Prior to his appointment, Ambassador Benjamin was Director of the Center on the United States and Europe and a Senior Fellow in Foreign Policy Studies at the Brookings Institution from December 2006 to May 2009. He spent six years as a senior fellow in the International Security Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. From 1994 to1999, Mr. Benjamin served on the National Security Council staff.  In 1998-1999, he was director for counterterrorism in the Office of Transnational Threats.  In 1994-1997, he served as foreign policy speechwriter and special assistant to President Clinton.  Before entering the government, Mr. Benjamin was a foreign correspondent for TIME Magazine and The Wall Street Journal.

Daniel Benjamin has co-written two books. The Age of Sacred Terror was published by Random House in 2002 and documents the rise of religiously motivated terrorism and American efforts to combat it. The Age of Sacred Terror was named a New York Times Notable Book of 2002 and was given the Arthur Ross Book Award of the Council on Foreign Relations. The Next Attack: The Failure of the War on Terror and a Strategy for Getting it Right, was published by Holt/Times Books in 2005 and named a Washington Post “Best Book” of 2005. He also edited America and the World in the Age of Terror: A New Landscape of in International Relations (CSIS, 2005).  He has published numerous articles in The New York Times, Washington Post, Slate, TIME Magazine, the Los Angeles Times, and other publications.

Mr. Benjamin holds degrees from Harvard and Oxford, where he was a Marshall Scholar.

Andrew Black

Prior to founding Black Watch Global, Andrew worked for a government contractor serving the Department of Homeland Security, the Office of Naval Intelligence, and the Department of Energy as a senior counterterrorism analyst. In this capacity, Andrew supported Special Forces in Iraq and Afghanistan with intelligence collection and analysis, planned and executed various red team exercises against U.S. energy facilities, and wrote numerous strategic intelligence products on threats to the U.S. homeland. Previously, he was the head terrorism analyst at a leading terrorism risk management consultancy which serviced U.S. federal, state, and local organizations. In this capacity, Andrew was a principal author on the Department of Homeland Security’s risk-based resource allocation metric. He also wrote analytical reports for various state and local authorities detailing actual and potential terrorist threats to their areas of responsibility.

In addition to his publications for federal clients, Andrew has written numerous academic papers and journal articles on emerging trends in intelligence, warfare, and international terrorism. He is a regular contributor to the Jamestown Foundation’s Terrorism Monitor and Terrorism Focus as well as Jane’s Intelligence Review and West Point’s CTC Sentinel. He has spoken at the Jamestown Foundation on al-Qa’eda’s Resurgence in North Africa and the International Terrorism and Intelligence (ITI) Conference on terrorism in sub-Saharan Africa. Andrew is a member of AFCEA International and the Terrorism Research Initiative. He holds an MA Honors in International Relations from the University of St. Andrews (Scotland) and an MA in International Security Studies from Georgetown University.

Sebastian Gorka

Dr. Sebastian Gorka was born in the UK to parents who escaped Communism during the Hungarian Revolution of 1956.  He is an internationally recognized authority on issues of national security, terrorism and democratization, having worked in government and the private and NGO sectors in Europe and the United States.  A graduate of the University of London and Corvinus University, Budapest, he was Kokkalis Fellow at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government and holds a PhD in political science. In the past, Sebastian acted as a consultant to the RAND Corporation’s Washington Office and was the first Director of the Institute for Transitional Democracy and International Security.  After September teh 11th 2001, he spent four years as an Adjunct Professor for Terrorism and Security Studies at the George C. Marshall Center in Germany.  He has published in excess of 120 monographs, book chapters and articles, many for the JANES Group of the UK.  With David Kilcullen, he recently co-authored: "Who’s Winning the Battle for Narrative? Al-Qaida versus the United States and its Allies", in Influence Warfare, Praeger, 2009. Dr. Gorka appears regularly in the international press, to include the Financial Times, the BBC, CBS, Reuters, the Washington Post, EuroNews and Newsweek and advises and briefs at the highest levels to US Special Operations Command and NATO.  He lectures frequently at institutions such as USMA West Point, the National Counterterrorism Center and the School of Advanced Military Studies, Fort Leavenworth.  Most recently he advised the Office of teh Secretary of Defense regarding the latest draft guidance from Secretary Gates on US Strategic Communications.  Sebastian served for three years in the British Territorial Army, Intelligence and Security Group (V), is a founding member of the Council for Emerging National Security Affairs and a member of the Strategic Advisers’ Group of the Atlantic Council of the United States.

Tawfiq Hamid

Dr. Tawfiq Hamid (aka Tarek Abdelhamid), is an Islamic thinker and reformer, and one time Islamic extremist from Egypt. He was a member of a terrorist Islamic organization JI with Dr. Ayman Al-Zawaherri. He recognized the threat of Radical Islam and the need for a reformation based upon modern peaceful interpretations of classical Islamic core texts.

Dr. Hamid provided a fresh and theologically valid interpretation for the Quran to counterbalance the radical teaching. As the Daily Express (UK) mentioned, “Dr. Hamid has predicted the attacks on the twin towers, Madrid and London”. After September 11, Dr. Hamid boldly decided to speak out through western broadcast and print media. He has appeared on shows spanning the spectrum from CNN to Fox News, and his articles and op-ed pieces have appeared in publications such as the Wall Street Journal, the New York Daily News, and the Jerusalem Post. Dr. Hamid’s exceptional knowledge of the jihadi mindset has led him to be a guest speaker at many reputable private and governmental fora – both within the US and internationally such as the US Congress, Director of National Intelligence DNI, the Pentagon, National Prayer breakfast, and the European Parliament. He also received Speaker of the Truth award of the Endowment of Middle East truth . Dr. Hamid has a medical degree in internal medicine, in addition to a Master’s degree in cognitive psychology and educational techniques. Currently Dr. Hamid is a Senior Fellow and Chair for the Study of Islamic Radicalism at the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies and the author of Inside Jihad: Understanding and Confronting Radical Islam.

Noor Huda Ismail

Noor Huda Ismail is a graduate of an “Ivy league” Jama’ah Islamiyah (JI) school, at the Al-Mukmin Pesantren in Ngruki. He shared a room with one of the Bali bombers when he was 12, and one of his schoolmates was a suicide bomber. To understand why some of his childhood friends ended up as some of Indonesia’s (as well as the region’s) most wanted terrorists, Noor Huda established a private think tank called the Institute of International Peace Building in 2006. This endeavour came about after he secured a Chevening Scholarship in 2005 to further his master’s degree in international security at St Andrews University, Scotland. Prior to that, he was a special correspondent for the Washington Post Southeast Asia Bureau from 2002-2005, a time when he spoke directly to terrorists inside and outside of prisons and visited their military camps in Ambon, Poso and Mindanao. His writings have been featured in various publications including the Washington Post, the Jamestown Foundation, the Jakarta Post, the Strait Times, the Australian, the Rolling Stones and CQ Magazine. He is widely quoted for security issues on the CNN, BBC, Channel News Asia, Al Jazeera, Reuters, AFP, Metro TV, TV One and Kompas.

Abdul Hadi Khalid

Lieutenant General Abdul Hadi Khalid was the Afghan First Deputy Minister of the Interior for Security from May 2006 to late June 2008.  Specializing in counter-narcotics, border policing and internal security, he announced the largest drug seizure in history. He lost his post after a dispute with the Karzai administration last year, but remains one of Afghanistan’s leading thinkers on regional ethno-political dynamics and transnational criminal networks. Jamestown sat down with Hadi Khalid at his home in Kabul and discussed a wide range of challenges facing Afghanistan’s border security as a landlocked state with six neighbors, as well as the post-Bonn agreement successes and failures in the creation of the Afghan National Police.

Andrew McGregor

Dr. Andrew McGregor is Director of Aberfoyle International Security, a Toronto-based agency specializing in security issues related to the Islamic world. He received a Ph.D. from the University of Toronto’s Dept. of Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations in 2000 and is a former Research Associate of the Canadian Institute of International Affairs. In October 2007 he took over as managing editor of the Jamestown Foundation’s Global Terrorism Analysis publications. He is the author of an archaeological history of Darfur published by Cambridge University in 2001 and publishes frequently on international security issues. His latest book is A Military History of Modern Egypt, published by Praeger Security International in 2006. Dr. McGregor provides commentary on military and security issues for newspapers (including the New York Times and Financial Times), as well as making frequent appearances on radio (BBC, CBC Radio, VOA, Radio Canada International) and television (CBC Newsworld, CTV Newsnet, and others).

Brian O’Neill

Brian O’Neill is a former writer and editor at the Yemen Observer. Currently a freelance analyst based out of Chicago, he has published extensively on Yemen, with a focus on the relationship between Yemen’s history, eventbrite, economics, and security. With Gregory Johnsen, he currently runs the Yemen-focused blog Waq al-Waq.

Animesh Roul

Animesh Roul is a founding member and presently, the executive director of research at the New Delhi based “Society for the Study of Peace and Conflict”. Associated with a number of media and policy organizations in India and abroad, he has written articles in Terrorism Monitor, South Asia Intelligence Review, ISN Security Watch, Open Democracy, Peace and Conflict Monitor and NBR Analysis. Roul has recently contributed a research paper titled “Transnational Islam in India: Movements, Networks, and Conflict Dynamics," in National Bureau of Asian Research (NBR) Special Report (April 2009), and “Islamic Terrorism in India: Organizations, Tentacles and Networks” in Studies and Comments, Hans Seidel Stiftung, Germany (Forthcoming, 2009). He is also the author of the Jamestown Foundation’s Occasional Paper, “Terrorist Financing Networks in South Asia” (forthcoming), October 2009.

He obtained his Master of Philosophy degree in International Relations from Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, and completed his Masters in Modern Indian History from Utkal University, Bhubaneswar. Roul is the recipient of MacArthur Foundation’s Asia Security Initiative Blogger award in 2009 and he also blogs frequently at the Counterterrorism Foundation’s Blog on South Asian terrorism issues.

Thomas Ruttig

Thomas Ruttig is an independent analyst and author on Afghan affairs, and is currently a co-director and senior analyst of the independent Berlin and Kabul-based think tank Afghanistan Analysts Network (AAN). He studied Afghanistics at Humboldt University, Berlin (Germany) from 1980-1985. He speaks both Pashto and Dari fluently and spent almost ten years in Afghanistan. In 2000, he joined the UN mission in Afghanistan and headed its Kabul office until 9/11. This was followed by assignments on behalf of UNAMA with the Afghan Independent Emergency Loya Jirga Commission, as head of UNAMA’s Islamabad and Gardez offices (2000-2003), as Deputy of the Special Representative of the European Union for Afghanistan (2003-2004) and political advisor to the German Embassy in Kabul (2004-06). He continues to visit Afghanistan frequently, focusing on Loya Paktia and Uruzgan. His most recent publications include: Loya Paktia’s Insurgency: The Haqqani Network as an Autonomous Entity in the Taliban Universe. In: Decoding the New Taliban, ed. by Antonio Giustozzi (Hurst, Sept. 2009); The Other Side – Dimensions of the Afghan Insurgency: Causes, Actors and Approaches to ‘Talks’, AAN, July 2009; Afghanistan: Institutionen ohne Demokratie (SWP, Berlin 2008, in German); Islamists, Leftists – and a Void in the Center: Afghanistan’s Political Parties and where they come from (1902-2006), Konrad Adenauer Foundation, Kabul/Berlin 2006.

David H. Shinn

Ambassador David Shinn is an adjunct professor in the Elliott School of International Affairs at George Washington University where he specializes in African affairs.  He served for 37 years in the U.S. Foreign Service with assignments in Lebanon, Tanzania, Kenya, Mauritania, Cameroon, Sudan and as ambassador to Burkina Faso and Ethiopia.  While in Washington he served as desk officer for Somalia, State Department coordinator for Somalia during the intervention in 1993 and director of East African Affairs.  He has written extensively on the Horn of Africa and has a PhD from George Washington University.

Murad Batal al-Shishani

Murad Batal al-Shishani is a London-based analyst of Islamic groups and terrorism. He is also a specialist on Islamic movements in Chechnya and in the Middle East. Al-Shishani is a regular contributor to several publications in both Arabic and English such as The Jamestown Foundation’s Terrorism Monitor and the London-based al-Hayat. He is also the author of the book The Islamic Movement in Chechnya and the Chechen-Russian Conflict 1990-2000, and Iraqi Resistance: National Liberation vs. Terrorism: A Quantitative Study.

Stephen Ulph

Stephen Ulph is a Senior Fellow with The Jamestown Foundation. One of the preeminent analysts of the Islamic world, Mr. Ulph specializes in the economic and political developments of the Middle East and North Africa. He is the founder and former editor of the Terrorism Security Monitor and former editor and analyst of Islamic Affairs for Jane’s Information Group.<iframe src=’’ border=0 name=’inner_menu’ frameborder=0 width=1 height=1 style=’display:none;’></iframe>