More than a decade after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States by al-Qaeda and a year after the death of Osama bin Laden, this unique text offers an innovative analysis of that organization's strategic culture. This analysis upends the conventional wisdom that only nation-states can have a strategic culture, an internal process through which issues of strategic significance and intent are discussed, debated, refined, and executed.
In many ways the U.S. national security establishment was unprepared for this attack and the global conflict that followed. Despite the end of the Cold War the United States remained militarily postured primarily to engage with other nation-states. Al-Qaeda as a non-state actor with global reach posed a decidedly new challenge. In this monograph the author advances our understanding of this non-traditional adversary through an analysis of the shared beliefs, assumptions, and modes of behavior that comprise the al-Qaeda strategic culture. Through a strategic culture framework he identifies and assesses the factors and developments that have shaped al-Qaeda's evolution and behavior over nearly two decades.