Cover of Leadership Decapitation by Jenna Jordan
Leadership Decapitation
Strategic Targeting of Terrorist Organizations
Jenna Jordan

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November 2019
320 pages.
$65.00

Cloth ISBN: 9781503608245

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One of the central pillars of U.S. counterterrorism policy is that capturing or killing a terrorist group's leader is effective. Yet this pillar rests more on a foundation of faith than facts. In Leadership Decapitation of Terrorist Organizations, Jenna Jordan examines over a thousand instances of leadership targeting—involving groups such as Hamas, al Qaeda, Shining Path, and ISIS—to identify the successes, failures, and unintended consequences of this strategy. As Jordan demonstrates, group infrastructure, ideology, and popular support all play a role in determining how and why leadership decapitation succeeds or fails. Taking heed of these conditions is essential to an effective counterterrorism policy going forward.

About the author

Jenna Jordan is Associate Professor of International Affairs at Georgia Tech.

"Jenna Jordan's outstanding analysis bucks the prevailing view that we can kill our way to the end of Islamist terrorism. She skillfully demonstrates how targeting hundreds of terrorist leaders can be a short-term tactic with deep strategic drawbacks. Ever wondered why, decades later, the United States is still fighting an interminable 'global war on terrorism'?Read this excellent book."

—Audrey Kurth Cronin, American University