My independent study attempts to answer the research question: Given shifting dynamics in Al-Qaeda (AQ) in the aftermath of Osama bin Laden’s death, how has the relationship between AQ Central and Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) changed? After the assassination of Osama bin Laden and rise of ISIS some have discounted AQ as an imminent threat. Continued attacks against US interests in the Arabian Peninsula by AQAP reveal that Al-Qaeda’s global network is not to be underestimated and continues to thrive. Therefore, my project has important counterterrorism implications and the potential to enhance current conceptions of how Al-Qaeda Central relates to its affiliates. The literature provides “assessments” of affiliates or addresses dynamics of global terror networks. A major gap in the literature exists due to a lack of theoretical work. Adapting Daniel Byman’s model for the state sponsorship of terrorism, I attempt to fill this gap. Using a pre/post-test comparative case study design, I employ process tracing to look for variation in control or coordination in the relationship. Specifically I look at the extent that AQ Central is involved in various AQAP activities before and after Osama bin Laden’s assassination in 2011.


Marsh, Kevin


International Relations


International and Area Studies | Political Science


Al-Qaeda, Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, Osama Bin Laden

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



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