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Just sharing – Theory of the rise of al-Qaeda

Behavioral_Sciences_of_Terrorism_and_Political_Aggression_148_214_sS. Yaqub Ibrahimi (2017), “Theory of the Rise of al-Qaeda”, Behavioral Sciences of Terrorism and Political Aggression, 28 April.

Click here for link to original article.

Since the September 11, 2001 attacks on New York and Washington, DC, al-Qaeda and other extremist Islamist groups have become a focal point of international security debates. Drawing on the ‘levels of analysis’ theory of international relations, this paper examines the root causes of the emergence of al-Qaeda in an integrative framework which organizes the individual, group, and international level causes of this organization in a single account. This paper not only includes causes, correlations, and explanations at all three levels but also considers the significant impact of the relationship among causes belong to different levels on the emergence of al-Qaeda. Drawing on this theoretical framework, I argue that individual jihadis’ ‘quest for significance,’ Salafi-Jihadism as a group ideology, and the sole great power’s post-Cold War foreign and military policies in the Muslim world factored into the rise of al-Qaeda. Although the empirical basis of this research includes a single case study, the method used in this paper has possible implications for studying more similar cases.

About Muhammad Haniff Hassan

Muhammad Haniff Bin Hassan is a Fellow. He holds a PhD and M.Sc. in Strategic Studies at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (previously known as the Institute of Defence and Strategic Studies), Nanyang Technological University. He received his early education in Aljunied Islamic School. He then continued his tertiary education at the Faculty of Islamic Studies, National University of Malaysia, with honours in Syar`iah and Civil law. Mr. Haniff is also active in social activities as a member of the Islamic Religious Council Appeal Board, HSBC Insurance Islamic Advisory Board from 2000 to 2014, Association of Islamic Religious Teachers and Scholars of Singapore (PERGAS) and Management Committee of Al-Irsyad Islamic School. He writes extensively in Berita Harian (a local Malay newspaper) and has also published articles in The Straits Times. He has published six books in his name, co-authored a monograph and helped publish two books for PERGAS and the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore. His personal website in Malay is at


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