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Authored by Lieutenant Colonel Sarah E. Zabel.
America entered the Global War on Terrorism with little understanding of the enemy it faced. Al-Qaeda is a splinter faction of militant Islamism intent on establishing its vision of strict Islamic rule in the Muslim world through armed action. Global jihadis have spent more than 40 years refining their philosophy, gaining experience, building their organization, and developing plans to reestablish what they see as the only true Islamic state on earth. In the years leading up to and following the September 11, 2001 (9/11) attacks, global jihadis have written copiously on their military strategy for creating an Islamic state. This paper draws on those writings to examine and explain the mechanisms by which they plan to neutralize the superpower guardian of world order, claim land and peoples for Islamic emirates out of the resulting chaos, and bring these emirates together to become a true Islamic state. Their writings also expose weaknesses in their strategy, and this paper explores some of those potential vulnerabilities as well.