This handbook comprises essays by leading scholars and practitioners on the topic of U.S. counterterrorism and irregular warfare campaigns and operations around the globe.

Terrorist groups have evolved substantially since 9/11, with the Islamic State often described as a pseudo-state, a terrorist group, and insurgency all at the same time. While researchers', analysts', and policymakers’ understanding of terrorism has grown immensely over the past two decades, similar advancements in the understanding of counterterrorism lag. As such, this handbook explains why it is necessary to take a broader view of counterterrorism which can, and often does, include irregular warfare.

The volume is divided into three thematic sections:

  • Part I examines modern terrorism in the Islamic world and gives an overview of the major terrorist groups from the past three decades;
  • Part II provides a wide variety of case studies of counterterrorism and irregular warfare operations, spanning from the 1980s to the irregular warfare campaign against the Islamic State in northern Syria in 2018;
  • Part III examines the government instruments used to combat terrorism and wage irregular warfare, such as drones, Theater Special Operations Commands, and Theater Commands.

The handbook fills a gap in the traditional counterterrorism literature by its inclusion of irregular warfare and by providing analyses from academic experts as well as practitioners. It will be of much interest to students of counterterrorism, counterinsurgency, U.S. national security, military affairs, and International Relations.

The Open Access version of this book, available at https://www.routledge.com/Routledge-Handbook-of-US-Counterterrorism-and-Irregular-Warfare-Operations/Sheehan-Marquardt-Collins/p/book/9780367758363, has been made available under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-No Derivatives 4.0 license.

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part I|164 pages

The threat and regional security issues

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chapter 3|13 pages

The evolution of al-Qaida

1988 to present day
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chapter 4|17 pages

The history of the Islamic State

From Abu Musab al-Zarqawi to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi
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chapter 7|10 pages

The roots of terrorism in North and West Africa

AQIM and Boko Haram
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chapter 8|12 pages

Al-Shabaab and the Horn of Africa

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part II|175 pages

Operational case studies

chapter 13|15 pages

El Salvador

Operations and Planning Assistance Training Teams and a minimalist approach to counterinsurgency
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chapter 16|11 pages

The Iran-Contra Affair and the Afghan Task Force

Lessons in covert action
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chapter 17|16 pages

The horse soldiers

Lessons from expeditionary unconventional warfare
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chapter 20|13 pages

Dismantling al-Qaida in Iraq

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chapter 21|13 pages

Operation Enduring Freedom–Philippines

Lessons in special warfare
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chapter 22|14 pages

Operation Serval

A swift intervention with a small footprint in Mali
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chapter 24|25 pages

Defeating the Islamic State

Special Operations Forces in Syria
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part III|153 pages

Government instruments in countering terrorism and waging irregular warfare

chapter 25|13 pages

The Joint Terrorism Task Force

Investigating to disrupt and prosecute terrorists
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chapter 29|10 pages

Social media recruitment of Americans

A case study from the Islamic State
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chapter 31|11 pages

Theater Special Operations Command

The operational employment of U.S. Special Operations Forces
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chapter 32|13 pages

Theater command in Afghanistan

Taking charge of “The Other War” in 2003–2005
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