This study, conducted by the faculty and research fellows of the Combating Terrorism Center (CTC) at West Point, serves multiple purposes, the most important of which is contributing to the depth of knowledge about the al-Qa'ida movement. Evidence supporting the conclusions and recommendations provided in this report is drawn from a collection of newly-released al-Qa'ida documents captured during recent operations in support of the Global War on Terror and maintained in the Department of Defense's Harmony database. In the text of these documents, readers will see how explicit al-Qa'ida has been in its internal discussions covering a range of organizational issues, particularly regarding the internal structure and functioning of the movement as well as with tensions that emerged within the leadership. In the first part of the report, we provide a theoretical framework, drawing on scholarly approaches including organization and agency theory, to predict where we should expect terrorist groups to face their greatest challenges in conducting operations. The framework is informed as much as possible by the captured documents, and provides a foundation upon which scholars can build as more of these documents are declassified and released to the public. Our analysis stresses that, by their nature, terrorist organizations such as al-Qa'ida face difficulties in almost any operational environment, particularly in terms of maintaining situational awareness, controlling the use of violence to achieve specified political ends, and of course, preventing local authorities from degrading the group's capabilities. But they also face problems common to other types of organizations, including private firms, political parties, and traditional insurgencies.