2nd Edition

Breaking Al-Qaeda
Psychological and Operational Techniques, Second Edition

ISBN 9781482230116
Published May 12, 2014 by CRC Press
241 Pages 13 B/W Illustrations

USD $78.95

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Book Description

Breaking Al-Qaeda: Psychological and Operational Techniques, Second Edition explores the background and history of al-Qaeda, covers recent developments, and explains how, why, and where the al-Qaeda network is expanding. The author examines the current state of the terrorist network and describes what groups in the network are doing to recruit, plan, and carry out attacks worldwide.

The book reports on intelligence and counterterror methods being used to garner information on al-Qaeda. It describes how the destabilization of Arab countries has led to opportunities for terrorists to capitalize on that instability and gain a foothold in countries such as Egypt, Yemen, Somalia, and Syria.

  • Addresses information collection and analysis
  • Provides an overview of the business of informational influence
  • Explains how psychology can be used to understand and exploit individuals in terrorist networks
  • Explores the relationships between the core of al-Qaeda and other groups

Illustrating the message and ideology of al-Qaeda since the death of Usama bin Laden, the text explains the steps being taken to counter this threat. It also details psychological and operational techniques that can be used to counter network groups and fracture relationships between groups.

Table of Contents

The Road to Breaking Al-Qaeda
Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) and the Resilient Network
The Arab Spring and the Al-Qaeda Foothold
Combating Terrorism: U.S. Counterterrorism Initiatives
Bureaucratic Solutions: Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI)
The PATRIOT Act and Expansion of Government Power
The National Security Agency (NS A) and Domestic Spying Fears
Government Detention and Guantanamo
Beware of the Buzzing Drones
The Nature of International Cooperation
Intelligence Leaks
Ceding Ground to Terrorists
Challenging the Bureaucracy
Informational Strategies
Informational Influence
Chapter Outline

The Origination and Continuation of the Threat
The Failure of Bureaucracy
Unwinding the Puzzle: The Afghan–Soviet War
From Saudi Arabia to Somalia: The Mujahedeen Expands
World Trade Center One and Bojinka
Return to Afghanistan and the Fatwas
Joining Forces against the Jews and Crusaders, and Global Jihad
Pre–9/11 Attacks
9/11: The Justification
9/11: The Immediate Response 
Continuation of the Threat
     Post–9/11 Attacks
Vilification, Degradation, and Iraq
Post-Iraq Implications
The Homegrown Threat
Learning Strategies
Concerns about Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)
The Terrorism–Criminal Nexus

The Mentality of the Threat
Are Terrorists Crazy?
Understanding Complex Motivation
Demographic Profiling
Vast Network of Propaganda
Uses of Propaganda
The Propaganda Message
The Enemy Defined
Tailored Propaganda
Information Dissemination
Swear Allegiance to Al-Qaeda
Magazine Jihad
Network Books
Video Productions
Edicts and Fatwas
Singing the Songs of Jihad
Point and Shoot: Killing the Kuffar
Propaganda Dissemination

The Business of Influence
Intelligence Collection
Psychological Influence Techniques
Operational Influence Techniques
Source Credibility and Delivery

Breaking Individuals
The Leadership Framework
     Personal Characteristics 
     Operating Environment 
     Advisory System 
     Information Environment
The Case of Ayman Al-Zawahiri 
     Some Background and Early Traits 
     Quest for Relevance and Power 
     Influencing Al-Zawahiri

Breaking Groups
The Nature of Groups
Group Fissures
Fissure: Personal Conflict and Mistrust
Fissure: Substantive and Procedural Disagreement
Fissure: Deviants

Breaking Relationships between Groups
Relationships between Groups
Fissure Points
Diverging Goals and Ethnic Differences
Security Risks
Leadership and Authority
Competition over Resources
Other Exploitable Situations

The Final Break
The Learning Process
The Final Piece
Hindering Change


Each chapter includes a conclusion and notes.

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Elena Mastors, Ph.D., is the vice president and dean of Applied Research at the American Public University System (APUS). She is the former vice president and dean of the School of Security and Global Studies and program director of the Graduate Intelligence Studies and National Security programs.

Previous to her work with APUS, she was an associate professor in the National Decision Making Department of the Naval War College, and also held various senior intelligence and policy positions in the Office of Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence and the Defense Intelligence Agency.

Dr. Mastors is an expert on political psychology as it pertains to conflict, terrorism, and political leadership. She writes frequently on understanding leaders and group dynamics from a political–psychological perspective. She is also a frequent lecturer on the important role of individuals and group dynamics in armed groups.

Dr. Mastors is on the Board of Directors at the Institute for the Study of Intercommunal Conflict at Washington State University. Her professional affiliations include the International Association for Intelligence Education (IAFIE), the International Studies Association (ISA), the International Society for Political Psychology (ISPP), and Women in Security (WIS).

Dr. Mastors has published on the subjects of conflict and armed groups. Her coauthored books include Introduction to Political Psychology (Psychology Press, 2010) and The Lesser Jihad: Recruits and the Al-Qaida Network (Rowman & Littlefield, 2007).


... there is a need for a very hands-on, up-close, and personal engagement to dislodge the radical Islamist ideology once it takes root. Dr. Mastors’ work fills this gap between the psychological and tactical approaches to defeat Al-Qaeda. Her experiences, as an intelligence operator and conducting field research to interview those who were compelled to turn away from political terrorism, well position her to offer insight and practical guidance to defeat the radical ideology. This book serves to educate those on the front line, as well as strategic planners and thinkers on the subject of Breaking Al-Qaeda.
—Colonel Jennifer L. Hesterman, United States Air Force (retired) and author of The Terrorist-Criminal Nexus: An Alliance of International Drug Cartels, Organized Crime, and Terror Groups