Back to publications
Research Paper

Using the McKinsey 7S Framework to Assess Al-Qaeda Over Three Decades: Lessons for the Future

30 Dec 2019
Long read by Colin P. Clarke

Writing in 1992, noted terrorism scholar David Rapoport remarked that nearly 90% of terrorist groups lasted less than one year. Subsequent scholarship on terrorist group longevity has similarly noted the short average lifespan of the vast majority of such groups.  Why then—more than three decades after it was originally founded—has al-Qaeda been able to enjoy a level of duration that most terrorist groups find elusive? This feat is especially impressive considering that al-Qaeda is arguably the most high-profile terrorist group ever, and one which the United States and other Western countries have been dedicated to eradicating for the better part of the last twenty years. What factors or variables have contributed to al-Qaeda’s longevity and led to its staying power in the face of an historical global counter-terrorism campaign waged by the world’s most capable militaries and intelligence services? And finally, what can we learn from the evolution of al-Qaeda that might be able to suggest where the group is heading in the future?

* The ISSN number that is in the PDF is incorrect. The correct ISSN number is 2468-0664. We apologise for any inconvenience this may have caused.