Despite the frequent appearances of Osama Bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri on television screens worldwide, Al Qaeda remains an elusive entity. As the world has grown increasingly familiar with the spectacle of Islamist terrorism, Al Qaeda’s essential worldview has remained bewilderingly opaque. To reveal its inner workings, Gilles Kepel and his collaborators, all scholars of Arabic and Islam, have collected and brilliantly annotated key texts of the major figures from whom the movement has drawn its beliefs and direction. The resulting volume offers an unprecedented glimpse into the assumptions of the salafist jihadists who have reshaped political life at the beginning of the third millennium.
Excerpts from the work of Azzabdallah Azzam, Ayman al-Zawahiri, Osama Bin Laden, and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi—drawn from speeches, internet postings, and published writings—tell the story of Al Qaeda’s evolution, from its origins in the Afghan war through the war in Iraq. These texts reveal the rational, discursive mode used to persuade and to justify violent armed struggle in a universe defined by militant Islam. Substantial interpretive introductions to each leader’s work and extensive critical commentary provide unparalleled access to the intellectual and doctrinal context of Al Qaeda in which these radical ideas have taken shape.
By viewing Al Qaeda from within, this indispensable volume reveals the terrorist network’s insidious role in the global web culture of today and the full dimensions of its frightening threat to world stability and security.
Most Americans may think they already know everything they need to know about Al Qaeda's founding figures, short of the survivors' physical location. Sooner or later, from natural or unnatural causes, Osama Bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri will die. Their positions, arguments, and references, however, will not. This book--and especially the information supplied in the notes--offers its readers a guided tour of Al Qaeda's intellectual and discursive world. It is a tour we all need to take, and the sooner the better.
With this book, Kepel and Milelli, professors at the Institute for Political Studies in Paris, have produced a seminal study of al-Qaeda, introducing the key texts and figures inspiring this still shadowy movement...Kepel and Milelli compellingly present the online texts that serve as al-Qaeda's "doctrine," dissecting the discourse and identifying the images and rhetoric al-Qaeda depends upon. This view of al-Qaeda from within presents sobering evidence of the threat al-Qaeda poses and is an indispensable read.
Despite all the political and popular attention that it has received in the last six years, Al Qaeda's essential worldview still remains largely unexplained. Written statements and television appearances by its leaders provide an occasional glimpse. This book is an incisive insight into the intellectual and discursive world of Al Qaeda that might just survive the lifetime of its present leadership. To reveal its inner workings, Gilles Kepel and his collaborators have collected and annotated key texts of the major figures from whom the movement has drawn its beliefs--Azzabdallah Azzam, Ayman al-Zawahiri, Osama Bin Laden, and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.
Impeccably researched and richly detailed...[Al Qaeda in Its Own Words] provides readers with some insight into and understanding of the theology and doctrine that forged al-Qa'ida and the rationale that has driven its global terror campaign for almost two decades...[The] collection of jihadist excerpts and extant commentary offers fascinating views of the personal motivations and historical influences that shaped bin Laden...A volume indispensable to a better understanding of the group's world view. Kepel's precise and brilliantly written introduction to the writings and statements, of bin Laden, Ayman al-Zawahiri, Abdallah Azzam and Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi, immediately articulates the difference between the tactic of terrorism (so much the focus of Western democracies' war on terror) and al-Qa'ida's overarching doctrine as an organization that seeks to reshape the world in its own image.
- 384 pages
- 5-1/2 x 8-1/4 inches
- Belknap Press
- Introduction and notes by Omar Saghi, Thomas Hegghammer, and Stéphane Lacroix
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