Zawahiri’s General Guidelines and the Collapse of Al Qaeda’s Levant Network



How to Cite

Celso, A. N. (2023). Zawahiri’s General Guidelines and the Collapse of Al Qaeda’s Levant Network. The Journal of Intelligence, Conflict, and Warfare, 6(1), 1–22.


This article addresses the factors leading to Al Qaeda’s continued fragmentation and the collapse of its efforts to create a jihadi state in the Levant. It does so in two parts. First, we look at Al Qaeda’s development of its far enemy strategy that deviated from past jihadi warfare strategies. Second, we examine Al Qaeda’s dysfunctional response to the Arab Spring. The protests untethering of Mideast states and its inflammation of sectarian tensions accelerated Al Qaeda’s transformation into a fractured network committed to localized (increasingly sectarian) insurgencies. After bin Laden’s 2011 killing, Zawahiri in September 2013 released his General Guidelines for the Work of Jihad to tie Al Qaeda’s branches localized insurgencies to a wider struggle against the Zionist-Crusader dominated world order.1 He failed to do so. Upon exploring jihadism’s splintering into three discordant factions represented by Al Qaeda’s far enemy focus, ISIS sectarianism and Hayat Tahrir al-Sham’s (HTS) localized insurgencies, this article concludes that this development has led to an ineffective but dangerously resilient global jihadi movement.

Key words: Jihadism, extremism, sectarianism, insurgency

Received: 2022-12-17

Revised: 2023-01-15
Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Copyright (c) 2023 Anthony N Celso


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