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World Affairs Council of Greater Houston

Al Qaeda & ISIS, the Fall of Afghanistan and the Terrorist Threat to the U.S.

September 9, 2021 @ 07:00 PM to September 9, 2021 @ - 08:00 PM
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About the event:

20 years ago, the U.S. suffered the most devasting terrorist attack in history – killing almost 3,000 people, sending economic shock waves around the world, and dramatically altering the focus of American foreign policy. The nation’s response to 9/11: led to the US invasion of Afghanistan; contributed to the decision to go to war with Iraq; and perhaps reduced our attention on the increasing global influence of China and Russia.  

With massive and extensive global military and intelligence operations, the US nor its allies have endured another similarly massive terrorist attack since 9/11. But Al Qaeda, ISIS and other foreign terrorist organizations who threaten the US have never been fully defeated or disbanded.

The primary objective for the US invasion of Afghanistan was to remove the Taliban from power, since they continued to harbor Al Qaeda, and to prevent it from again becoming a possible safe haven for terrorist groups. While our attempts at nation building in Afghanistan fell short in many ways, we have been largely successful in preventing it being used as a base for another major terrorist attack against the U.S. 

But with the return to power of the Taliban, and our lack of military forces and significant intelligence resources on the ground in Afghanistan, what it is outlook for foreign based or inspired terrorist threats to the U.S. from Afghanistan and beyond? What is the reality of the ongoing relationship between the Taliban and Al Qaeda? The civil war and ungoverned spaces of Syria gave ISIS room to grow, establish its caliphate and be an inspiration for attacks around the world. With continued instability in Afghanistan, will ISIS-K or other groups become the next major terrorist threat to the US and our allies?

About the speakers:

Madiha Afzal – Fellow, Brookings Institution

FP 20181212 madiha afzal

Madiha Afzal is a David M. Rubenstein Fellow in the Foreign Policy program. Her research lies at the intersection of political economy, development, and security, with a focus on Pakistan. She previously worked as an assistant professor of public policy at the University of Maryland, College Park.

Afzal is the author of “Pakistan Under Siege: Extremism, Society, and the State,” published by the Brookings Institution Press in 2018 (the book was also published in South Asia and Afghanistan by Penguin India). Afzal has also published several journal articles, book chapters, policy reports, and essays. In addition, she writes for publications including Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, the Washington Post, Dawn, and Newsweek. She is regularly interviewed by media outlets including BBC, NPR, and PBS. In addition, she has consulted for international organizations including the World Bank and UK’s Department for International Development. For her writing on education in Pakistan, she was named to Lo Spazio della Politica’s list of “Top 100 Global Thinkers of 2013.” Afzal received her doctorate in economics from Yale University in 2008, specializing in development economics and political economy.

Stephen Tankel –  Fmr. Senior Advisor at the Department of Defense & CNAS

Stephen Tankel

Stephen Tankel is an Adjunct Senior Fellow in the Indo-Pacific Security Program at the Center for a New American Security (CNAS). He is also an Associate Professor at American University, and serves as a Senior Editor at War on the Rocks.

An expert on terrorism, counterterrorism, and security and military affairs in South Asia, Dr. Tankel frequently advises U.S. policymakers, practitioners, and members of the Intelligence Community on these issues. He has conducted field research in Afghanistan, Algeria, Bangladesh, India, Kenya, Lebanon, Pakistan, and the Balkans. From 2014-2015, Dr. Tankel served as a Senior Advisor at the Department of Defense. During this time there, he led a review of U.S. defense policy in South and Central Asia, and helped to coordinate efforts to counter the flow of foreign fighters from South, Central, and Southeast Asia to Iraq and Syria.


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Date And Time

September 9, 2021 @ 07:00 PM to September 9, 2021 @ - 08:00 PM

Registration End Date

September 9, 2021


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