The Serpent in Our Garden: Al-Qa'ida and the Long War

  • January 01, 2009
  • COL Brian M Drinkwine

The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 (9/11) caused Americans to realize that our sense of invincibility had been shattered. This paper will identify al-Qa’ida and Salafi-Jihadists as our enemy and will recommend new approaches to fighting terrorism. Colonel Brian Drinkwine will explore al-Qa’ida’s organization, leaders, doctrine, and their radical ideologies. It is argued that the war we must fight is one against Islamist transnational actors who openly engage in terrorism or support terrorism. It will highlight that our current national and military strategies to combat terrorism are inadequate to take on an ideologically emboldened transnational foe. It is emphasized that we must refocus our efforts and prepare to fight a war of several generations (long war), and several initiatives will be recommended to include development of a cogent grand national strategy. These recommendations are intended to assist future planners in the development of a grand national strategy and an integrated long war campaign plan aimed directly at al-Qa’ida, the al-Qa’ida Associated Movement, and Islamist terrorists and executed through the application of diplomatic, informational, military, and economic instruments of national power by an unified interagency effort in coordination with our multinational partners, international governmental and nongovernmental organizations, and regional security organizations.