The Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, has eclipsed al-Qaeda but it has not succeeded in defeating its rival or bringing regional jihadi groups into its fold. What then is the state of al-Qaeda today? Cathy Scott-Clark and Adrian Levy’s latest book, The Exile: The Flight of Osama bin Laden, presents an intimate picture of al-Qaeda’s highs and lows since 9/11.
Having conducted interviews with some of Osama bin Laden’s wives and trusted associates, Scott-Clark and Levy shared their insights into al-Qaeda’s trajectory, its rivalry with the Islamic State, and the role of state actors in enabling or weakening these groups.
Cathy Scott-Clark and Adrian Levy are award-winning writers and former foreign correspondents for the Sunday Times and the Guardian. The pair now writes and produces documentaries for HBO, BBC, Channel 4 and PBS. They have just begun filming a documentary on the history of enhanced interrogation techniques, directed by Alex Gibney. They have co-authored six books: Deception: Pakistan, the United States, and the Secret Trade in Nuclear Weapons (2008), which looks at the al-Qaeda network, was a Washington Post Pick of the Year and a finalist in the Royal United Services Institute’s Duke of Westminster’s Medal for Military History; The Meadow (2012), an account of kidnappings of westerners in Kashmir, won the Ramnath Goenka Award as India’s best non-fiction book; The Siege: The Attack on the Taj (2014), which examines the 26 November attacks on Mumbai, won the CWA Gold Dagger for non-fiction. Their latest book, published in June, is The Exile: The Flight of Osama bin Laden.
This event was chaired by Nelly Lahoud, Senior Fellow for Political Islamism, IISS. It took place in the Trafalgar Room at Arundel House, 6 Temple Place, London WC2R 2PG.
Nelly Lahoud is Senior Research Fellow on Political Islamism at IISS–Middle East. Lahoud’s recent research has focused on the ideology and evolution of al-Qaeda and the group that calls itself the ‘Islamic State.’ She was the lead author of Letters from Abbottabad (CTC, May 2012), the report that analysed declassified documents captured in Osama bin Laden’s compound.