On January 22, 2013, Dr. Nelly Lahoud gave a lecture at the World Trade Center in Baltimore, MD (US) on the topic “Is Jihadism An Enduring Threat?” In this lecture she does not present a yes or no answer this question, but instead discusses two issues:
1) What do we really mean by Jihadism?
2) How has the jihadi threat been conceptualized, in particular by the counter-terrorism community she thinks is ‘obsessively Al Qaeda centered’.
She proposes a different approach to jihadism that is aware of the performative power of branding groups as Al Qaeda. As she states, not every store that sells fried chicken, is a Kentucky Fried Chicken. When we brand jihadists as Al Qaeda it becomes part of their mission to attack the US. Referring to the situation in Mali she explains that branding Jihadists who are not affiliated with Al Qaeda, as Al Qaeda is empowering them and providing with authority and a global platform they would not be able to craft on their own.
Nelly Lahoud is Associate Professor at the Department of Social Sciences at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and Senior Associate at the Combating Terrorism Center (CTC) at West Point. She completed her Ph.D. in 2002 at the Research School of Social Sciences — Australian National University. In 2003, she was a postdoctoral scholar at St John’s College, University of Cambridge — UK. In 2005, she was a Rockefeller Fellow in Islamic studies at the Library of Congress and in 2008-09 she was a Research Fellow at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University. Prior to her current position, Lahoud was an Assistant Professor of political theory, including Islamic political thought, at Goucher College.