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Past event

ICCT Live Briefing: Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State: Competition or Cooperation in Western Sahel?


On Thursday 26 March 2020, The International Centre for Counter-Terrorism (ICCT) hosted a special Live Briefing, followed by a Q&A session.

Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State: Competition or Cooperation in Western Sahel? In recent years, the Western Sahel has experienced an unprecedented rise in terrorist violence, with more than 4,000 deaths reported in 2019—a fivefold increase since 2016. Although, previously contained in northern Mali, terrorist violence has rapidly spread both east- and southward, reaching not only central Mali, but also neighbouring countries. Concurrently, the region has seen the rise of the IS’ local branch—the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara. However, al-Qaeda’s regional presence also remains formidable. With both groups engrained in local communities and adeptly exploiting ethnic conflicts, violence in the region has increased exponentially. What is next for this region and for these groups? Both vying for resources, territory, and support—will AQ and IS cooperate or compete? Speakers:

  • Colin P. Clarke, Associate Fellow at ICCT, Senior Research Fellow at the Soufan Center, and Assistant Teaching Professor at Carnegie Mellon University's Institute for Politics and Strategy. Colin’s recent work on AQ has employed novel organisational frameworks to analyse the group’s resilience in an innovative way.
  • Julie Coleman, ICCT’s Senior Research Fellow and lead expert on the Sahel. Julie currently manages ICCT’s Mali (Dis-) Engagement and Re- (Integration) related to Terrorism (MERIT) programme, which aims to facilitate the rehabilitation and reintegration of released Violent Extremist Offenders (VEOs), as well as reduce the risk of radicalisation among Malian youth.

For further reading on Colin Clarke and Julie Coleman’s work on this topic, please read Using the McKinsey 7S Framework to Assess Al-Qaeda Over Three Decades: Lessons for the Future by Colin Clarke, and The Shifting Sands of the Sahel’s Terrorism Landscape by Méryl Demuynck and  Julie Coleman.

For more on ICCT’s work, and to keep up with future Live Briefings, check out our website and follow us on Twitter @ICCT_TheHague.