The god of Competitive Strategy courses at B Schools is Michael Porter with his book Competitive Strategy.  The god of terrorist strategy is Abu Bakr Naji with his treatise  The Management of Savagery (MoS) Actually, Naji seems to be an amalgam of many strategic thinkers within Al Qaeda while there is only one Porter.

The Management of Savagery (MoS) is quite a read.  It is an eyeopener for people who might think that terrorists are simply “crazy”.  They have crazy and grandiose objectives – the overthrow of America.  But they think about how to achieve their aims quite “rationally”.  They make an analogy with the collapse of the Soviet Union, which they take credit for.  They believe they caused it to fall by overstretching in Afghanistan.  They seek to replicate it with America.  The main idea is to trigger an extreme aggressive response from the U.S.  and not the reverse, i.e. make America back off.  American aggression will create a war that brings moderates to the side of extremists and America’s defeat the end of American hegemony:

Force America to abandon its war against Islam by proxy and force it to attack directly so that the noble ones among the masses….will see that their fear of deposing the regimes because America is their protector is misplaced and that when they depose the regimes, they are capable of opposing America if it interferes.

Abu Bakr Naji, The Management of Savagery (  p. 24)

It may be quite rational for us to respond to aggression with aggression but this creates an equilibrium which is damaging for America (notice that terrorists are well-read!):

It is just as the American author Paul Kennedy says: “If America ex-pands the use of its military power and strategically extends more than necessary, this will lead to its downfall.”(Naji, p. 18).

“[N]ote that the economic weakness resulting from the burdens of war or from aiming blows of vexation (al-nik¯aya) directly toward the economy is the most important element of cultural annihilation since it threatens the opulence and (worldly) pleasures which those societies thirst for. Then com-petition for these things begins after they grow scarce due to the weakness of the economy. Likewise, social iniquities rise to the surface on account of the economic stagnation, which ignites political opposition and disunity among the (various) sectors of society in the central country.”(Naji, p. 20).

There is a theory of terror and a strategy or terror.  And, unfortunately, it does seem to all hang together.