The Iraq Invasion and Transnational Jihadism

Abstract: How did the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 affect the evolution of the transnational jihadi movement? The consensus view since the mid-2000s has been that the war fuelled militant Islamism, but there have since been few attempts to specify the effects and identify the mechanisms involved. In this talk I draw on a wide range of unexploited quantitative and qualitative evidence to understand the war’s impact on transnational militancy. I find that the detrimental effects were even larger than previously assumed, and I make the case, through counterfactual analysis, that jihadism as a transnational movement could have largely fizzled out in the late 2000s had the Iraq war not occurred.

Bio: Thomas Hegghammer is Senior Fellow in Politics at All Souls College. He is a political scientist and historian who specializes in the study of militant Islamist groups. His books include /Jihad in Saudi Arabia: Violence and Pan-Islamism since 1979/ (Cambridge 2010), /Jihadi Culture: The Art and Social Practices of Militant Islamists/ (Cambridge 2017), and /The Caravan: Abdallah Azzam and the Rise of Global Jihad/ (Cambridge 2020).