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Jihad and 21st Century Terrorism

A Discussion with Marc Sageman on Leaderless Jihad

In the post-September 11 world, Al Qaeda is no longer the central organizing force that aids or authorizes terrorist attacks or recruits terrorists. Rather, it serves as an inspiration for individuals and other groups who have branded themselves with the Al Qaeda name.

Marc Sageman, a former CIA case officer in Afghanistan in the 1980s, builds upon his bestselling book, Understanding Terror Networks, to explain how Islamic terrorism emerges and operates in the twenty-first century. In the recently published Leaderless Jihad, Sageman rejects the idea that certain individuals are predisposed to terrorism. He argues that the individual, outside influence, and group dynamics come together in a four-step process of radicalization that begins with traumatic events that spark moral outrage.


New America Foundation
1630 Connecticut Ave, NW 7th Floor
Washington, DC, 20009
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  • Marc Sageman
    Senior Fellow, Foreign Policy Research Institute
    Author, Leaderless Jihad
  • Peter Bergen
    Schwartz Senior Fellow, New America Foundation
    Terrorism Analyst, CNN

Event Time and Location

Wednesday, February 20, 2008 - 12:15pm - 1:45pm