Slaying the Hydra: Al Qaeda's Evolution and America's Plan of Attack

Date of Award


Document Type

Undergraduate Capstone Project

Degree Name

Master of Liberal Studies

Organizational Unit

University College, Global Community Engagement


Global Affairs

First Advisor

Naomi Starosta


Afghanistan, Al Qaeda, Bush Doctrine, Insurgency, Iraq, Pakistan, Taliban, Terrorism, War on Terror


In response to 9/11, the U.S. launched airstrikes in Afghanistan against al Qaeda to diminish its ability to conduct future attacks. Next, the U.S. turned its attention to Iraq. A series of problems and missteps there subsequently created an opportunity for al Qaeda to evolve, aligning itself with active insurgencies and other terrorist groups around the world. This paper identifies the largely preemptive strategies employed by the U.S. and analyzes how those efforts positively and negatively impacted the War on Terror. While some significant gains were made, the results show that al Qaeda remains a threat to the international community and demands more effective U.S. and international counter-radicalization strategies, including diplomacy and aid, to curb its global appeal.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. Permanently suppressed.

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