We are pleased to announce that the Mohammad-Mahmoud Ould Mohamedou, the former Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Mauritania (2008-2009) and author of Understanding Al Qaeda – Changing War and Global Politics (Pluto Press, 2007; University of Pennsylvania Press, 2006, Second Edition, Pluto Press 2011), will deliver a plenary address at the conference.
His address, entitled ‘Al Qaeda and the Limits of Transnational Terrorism, will examine the tensions within Al Qaeda as it attempted to expand trans-nationally and yet engaged locally.
The abstract for the address is as follows:
Al Qaeda’s saga began as the first historical expression of the militarization of transnational Islamist militancy. Following its 9/11 operation, the organization has experienced important qualitative changes, notably the regionalization of its operations (which had begun in 2002), and the newfound independence of franchises set up in the Arabian Peninsula, Iraq, and North Africa. Though it augmented its international threat, this scheme has, however, had an unexpected twist for the group illustrated by the return of Al Qaeda to its initial ground and to the very aim it had originally sought to steer away from, namely the engagement of local rulers. What, in the 1990s and early 2000s, had constituted the group’s unique strength –thought out geographic expansion – ended up, in the mid-to-late 2000s, being held back by the immediacy and ‘provincialism’ of the various franchises’ immediate concerns. To the extent that Al Qaeda developed as a transnational movement but got trapped by local contingencies, we may, in the final analysis, ask whether ultimately there is compatibility between transnational and local terrorist movements.
Mohammad-Mahmoud Ould Mohamedou is Visiting Professor in the International History and Politics, and Development departments at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Geneva, Switzerland, and Associate Fellow at the Geneva Center for Security Policy. A former Harvard University scholar where he co-directed the Program on Humanitarian Policy and Conflict Research, he served as Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Mauritania in 2008-2009. He is regarded as a leading international specialist on the new forms of transnational terrorism. Mohamedou is the author of, notably, Understanding Al Qaeda – Changing War and Global Politics (Pluto Press, 2007; University of Pennsylvania Press, 2006, Second Edition, Pluto Press 2011), and Iraq and the Second Gulf War: State-Building and Regime Security (Austin & Winfeld in San Francisco, 1998, and reprinted in 2002).