Mary Habeck is a Senior Fellow with the Foreign Policy Research Institute (FPRI) and a Visiting Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI). Mary was also appointed to the Council on the Humanities at the National Endowment for the Humanities by President Bush and served as Special Advisor for Strategic Planning on the National Security Council staff.


Dr. Habeck’s has authored several articles and books on foreign policy, including Knowing the Enemy: Jihadist Ideology and the War on Terror and its forthcoming sequel, Attacking America: Al-Qa’ida’s Grand Strategy. You can follow Dr. Habeck on Twitter @MHabeck.

What If Baghdadi Is Incapacitated?

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A recent Guardian report states that the head of the Islamic State (IS), Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, was seriously injured in an air strike by the US-led coalition in Iraq. A more detailed report from Newsweek suggests that Baghdadi has been incapacitated—at least temporarily—and is currently unable to lead IS. An Iraqi expert on IS says that a new leader, Abu ‘Ala al-‘Afri, who trained in Afghanistan and who seems to be open to working with al-Qaeda (AQ), has taken over the day-to-day running of the group.

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The Convergences of al-Qaeda and the Islamic State

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For several months, I have been writing about signs of cooperation—generally on a local level—between al-Qaeda (AQ) groups and others that have sworn fealty to the Islamic State (IS). It might seem counterintuitive that the two, which have accused each other of assassinating leaders, engaged in a very public mutual disowning, and fought each other openly in some areas, would work together at all. But there is growing evidence of localized convergences between the two organizations, especially in Lebanon, Syria, and Tunisia. Whether this will turn into something more comprehensive is unclear.

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Al-Qaeda and Pakistan: The Evidence of the Abbottabad Documents (Part Three)

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The release last month of eight new documents, captured during the raid that killed Usama bin Laden, is allowing us to re-examine conclusions reached earlier about al-Qaeda (AQ). Two previous posts used the new evidence to look at the relationship between AQ’s leadership and affiliates, and at Bin Laden’s involvement in running his own organization. This post examines what the documents have to say about the complex relationship between AQ and Pakistan.

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Bin Laden: Micromanager or Delusional? The Evidence of the Abbottabad Documents (Part Two)

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Eight documents recently released from the archive captured in Abbottabad during the raid on Usama bin Laden are allowing us to reexamine views of al-Qaeda (AQ). Together with seventeen previously released documents, we now have 25 pieces of evidence—from a treasure trove of “millions”—to understand AQ in its own words.

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The Tunisian Terrorist Attack: What Does It Mean?

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The horrific events at the Bardo Museum in Tunis are a reminder of the growing threat from terrorists and insurgents in the once peaceful country of Tunisia. The Tunisian military is engaged in “open warfare” in certain areas of the country, with serious casualties suffered in complex and sophisticated attacks by insurgents. Many of these are members of the ‘Uqba bin Nafi Brigades – a militant group generally associated with al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) – but there are other terrorist groups more closely linked to the Islamic State (IS).

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