Methods adopted by al-Qaeda within the ideological warfare framework have aimed to influence and persuade residents of both Muslim and non-Muslim countries to contribute to the organization’s mission. Through emotional appeals framed as responses to current conditions affecting the Islamic Middle East a tactical system based on pro-active reasoning has allowed the Salafi group to remain in business. Al-Qaeda has qualified itself as the vanguard in the “war of ideas” and has pioneered compelling methods for continuous recruitment. However, wanton acts of violence have forced international analysts to search for counter strategies to confront the mechanisms used by al-Qaeda in inducing individuals toward terrorism.
This article demonstrates the need to challenge and confront this ideological strategy adopted by al-Qaeda. Recent progress in the “war of ideas” will be highlighted as well as new suggested methods of engagement. Mention of other Salalifi organizations will be minimized in order to thoroughly survey al-Qaeda. Furthermore, discussion of religious doctrines and the tenets of al-Qaeda will be limited in an effort to hone in on the properties of ideological warfare.
The overarching threat of ideological warfare is the fear that even if the organization is defeated its ideology may continue; therefore, the objective to counter al-Qaeda’s core ideology and cancel the dissemination of its ideas is essential in order to eliminate the empathy and international support it currently enjoys. The importance of challenging al-Qaeda within this arena can be viewed with complete transparency when looking at the challenges faced by the U.S. in its battle against the Soviet Union during the Cold War. This template illustrates the importance of challenging the ideas of an adversary rather than engaging exclusively in an armed conflict.