The Al Qaeda Factor: Plots Against the West

The Al Qaeda Factor: Plots Against the West

A talk by Mitchell Silber from the New York City Police Department Intelligence Division about his new book, "The Al Qaeda Factor: Plots Against the West." This talk was co-sponsored by the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs.

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Duration: 53:09


The horrific and devastating events of September 11, 2001 changed the world's perception of Al Qaeda. What had been considered a small band of revolutionary terrorists capable only of attacking Western targets in the Middle East and Africa suddenly had a global resonance, demonstrating an ability to strike with enormous impact. Subsequent plots perpetuated the impression of Al Qaeda as a highly organized and rigidly controlled organization with recruiters, operatives, and sleeper cells in the West who could be activated on command.

Specializing in terrorism at the NYPD, Mitch Silber synthesizes his own expertise in the field and argues that to comprehend the threat posed by the transnational jihad movement, the world must have a more nuanced understanding of the dynamics behind the Al Qaeda plots. Silber closely examines sixteen Al Qaeda associated plots and attacks, ranging from the 1993 World Trade Center bombing to the present day. Sifting through primary sources and case studies, Silber examines the specifics of Al Qaeda’s role in the inspiration, formation, membership, and organization of terrorist groups. He further identifies potential points of vulnerability, which may potentially expose the West to future terrorist attacks.


Mitchell Silber serves as the Director of both the NYPD Intelligence Division’s Analytic and Cyber Units. As part of his responsibilities, he supervises the analysis of the portfolio of terrorism related investigations within the Intelligence Division.  He has been a member of NYPD for seven years.

Silber is the co-author of the 2007 NYPD report Radicalization in the West: The Homegrown Threat. He has presented on behalf of the NYPD at the White House, National Security Council, CIA, FBI, National Counterterrorism Center and testified before the U.S. Senate. He is a visiting lecturer at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) where he teaches a course on Modern Urban Counterterrorism.  Silber serves on the Dean’s Advisory Board at SIPA and is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. He is the author of the forthcoming book, the Al Qaeda Factor: Plots Against the West, due for release in December 2011.

Prior to joining the NYPD, Silber completed Columbia University's Masters Program in International Affairs where he specialized in Middle East studies, with a concentration on Saudi Arabia. Before earning his Masters Degree at Columbia, he spent nine years in corporate finance as a partner at The Carson Group and as a principal at Evolution Capital, LLC.