Stephen Tankel

Former Nonresident Scholar
South Asia Program
Tankel was a nonresident scholar at the Carnegie Endowment, where his research focuses on insurgency, terrorism, and the evolution of nonstate armed groups.


PhD, King’s College London
MSc, London School of Economics
BS, Cornell University


Arabic; English


Stephen Tankel is no longer with the Carnegie Endowment.

Stephen Tankel is an assistant professor at American University and was a nonresident scholar at the Carnegie Endowment in the South Asia Program.

His research focuses on insurgency, terrorism, the evolution of nonstate armed groups, political and security issues in South Asia, and U.S. policy responses to these issues. He has published widely on these issues and has conducted field research in Algeria, India, Lebanon, Pakistan, and the Balkans.

Tankel’s new book, Storming the World Stage: The Story of Lashkar-e-Taiba, is published jointly by Hurst & Co. and Columbia University Press. 

  • Security assistance isn’t the quick fix the US thi
    Op-Ed Hill August 6, 2015
    Security Assistance Isn’t the Quick Fix the US Thinks It Is

    Policymakers must act now in order to improve the efficacy of security assistance and cooperation in order to advance American interests.

  • Indian and Pakistani Troops
    Op-Ed War on the Rocks April 20, 2015
    India in Afghanistan: Tackling a Thorny Issue

    There is a lot to unpack in terms of how New Delhi and Washington each views Pakistan’s role in Afghanistan.

  • Armed Pakistani activists
    Eurasia Review September 10, 2014
    The Indian Jihadist Movement: Evolution and Dynamics-Analysis

    Indian jihadists have operated for decades, with and without support from Pakistan.

  • Wilson Center January 3, 2014
    Jihadist Violence: The Indian Threat

    India has been confronting jihadist violence for decades. Yet these dynamics remain underexplored and difficult to comprehend, particularly in terms of ties to external jihadist groups.

  • Op-Ed War on the Rocks December 4, 2013
    General Kayani's Legacy: Trying to Get Pakistan’s House in Order

    The jihadist insurgency will continue to cause problems for Pakistan’s new Chief of Army Staff, General Raheel Sharif.

  • Op-Ed War on the Rocks November 6, 2013
    Killing Hakimullah Mehsud

    It is very unlikely that the U.S. decision to kill Hakimullah Mehsud will significantly set back U.S.-Pakistan relations, but drone strikes will remain an impediment.

  • Op-Ed War on the Rocks October 22, 2013
    Going Native: The Pakistanization of Al-Qaeda

    Given the addition of Pakistanis at senior leader levels in al-Qaeda, there may well be a continued growing focus on the insurgency in Pakistan and possibly on striking foreign targets in India.

  • Op-Ed War on the Rocks October 1, 2013
    Keeping Score in the War on al-Qaeda

    Washington’s objective should remain the pursuit of a counterterrorism approach that enables the U.S. to manage and degrade jihadist groups without becoming captive to the threats they pose.

  • Op-Ed War On The Rocks September 17, 2013
    Jaw-Jaw and War-War in Pakistan

    While the United States is fixated on negotiations over Syria’s chemical weapons, other talks of consequence were on the verge of beginning between Pakistan and the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan.

  • United States Institute of Peace September 9, 2013
    Domestic Barriers to Dismantling the Militant Infrastructure in Pakistan

    Pakistan will continue to find it difficult to counter militancy more vigorously in its territory, and U.S. officials urging the country to make greater efforts should fully understand the obstacles.

  • Lashkar-e-Taiba and Pakistan
    Columbia University Press July 19, 2011
    Storming the World Stage: The Story of Lashkar-e-Taiba

    Lashkar-e-Taiba had developed from a small resistance group to the largest, most feared organization operating in Kashmir, India, and Pakistan today, posing a threat to the region and the West.

  • Arab Peace Initiative meeting
    War on the Rocks May 20, 2015
    National Security and the Schoolhouse

    Is scholarship relevant to the policymaker? Is the academy preparing people to go into the policy world?

  • CTV News Weekend March 26, 2013
    Musharraf Returns to Pakistan

    The return of former President Musharraf to Pakistan has the potential to complicate the already fraught elections coming in May 2013.

  • Washington Journal July 8, 2012
    The Future of U.S.-Pakistan Relations

    Following Pakistan’s recent decision to reopen its border crossings to U.S. and NATO military transit into Afghanistan, the U.S.-Pakistani relationship has improved, but significant challenges remain.

  • BBC World News April 3, 2012
    The U.S. Bounty on Lashkar-e-Taiba

    The recent U.S. decision to place a ten million dollar bounty on Lashkar-e-Taiba's founder may be designed to pressure Pakistan, but it risks leading to more tension in the U.S.-Pakistani relationship.

  • WNYC's Brian Lehrer Show March 13, 2012
    Afghanistan's Heart and Minds

    The recent shooting by a rogue American soldier puts the U.S. mission in Afghanistan in danger, and has raised new questions about the pace of the American transition.

  • NPR's Talk of the Nation November 29, 2011
    Relationship Sours After Airstrikes In Pakistan

    Although an investigation is underway to determine why NATO coalition forces in Afghanistan fired on two Pakistani army bases, killing 24 Pakistani soldiers, the event has already struck a blow to the struggling U.S.-Pakistan alliance.

  • C-SPAN's Washington Journal October 4, 2011
    The Haqqani Network and Pakistani Intelligence

    While Pakistan may be using the Afghan insurgency in order to improve its own strategic position in Afghanistan, it remains unclear how much direct control it exerts over insurgent groups like the Haqqani network.

  • Clinton and Pakistan's Foreign Minister Qureshi
    C-SPAN Radio May 9, 2011
    The Trust Deficit with Pakistan

    To overcome the large trust deficit that exists between Washington and Islamabad, the leadership in both countries must recognize that the strategic interests of their two nations do not always align.

  • December 15, 2011 Washington, D.C.
    The Story of Lashkar-e-Taiba

    The Pakistani militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba has developed from a small resistance group to the most feared militant organization in South Asia and one with global reach.

  • October 7, 2010 Washington, D.C.
    Pakistan's Security After the Floods

    Catastrophic flooding in Pakistan this summer threatens to undermine counterinsurgency efforts as the military turns its focus to relief and recovery missions.

  • Stephen Tankel and Ashley J. Tellis
    September 14, 2010 Washington, D.C.
    The Evolving Threat of Lashkar-e-Taiba

    The Pakistan-based militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) poses a major threat to India, regional stability in South Asia, and is a growing threat to U.S. security interests.


Areas of Expertise

Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
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