Harvard professor Jessica Stern testified before the House Committee on Government Reform last week, providing lots of useful background information on al Qaeda. The testimony contains fascinating revelations gleaned directly from interviews with former members of the organization. There’s a transcript at the Harvard web site.

Ms. Stern’s prescription for solving the terrorism problem in the long term is nation building of the sort that President Bush mocked when he was campaigning for his current office. America can hardly pretend to be isolated when we have business interests throughout the world, and the government spends billions of dollars in various ways globally to support those business interests. The idea that America can somehow solve its problems through withdrawal or unilateralism is a sad fantasy.

Here are some of Ms. Stern’s other writings that might be of interest at this time:

  • Pakistan’s Jihad Culture (from Foreign Affairs)
  • Meeting with the Muj — a first hand account of visits to madrisas, Islamic schools which teach their students how to become mujahideen in lieu of math or science
  • an interview on how terrorist leaders attract followers and cash