Islamic Radicalism and Global Jihad

Islamic Radicalism and Global Jihad

Islamic Radicalism and Global Jihad

Islamic Radicalism and Global Jihad


Jihadist ideology inspires a diverse and decentralized collection of radical groups to fight alleged enemies of Islam and to attempt to "restore" a holy caliphate to unite Muslim peoples across the Middle East, Africa, and Asia. Islamic Radicalism and Global Jihad provides unique insights into the philosophical foundations, strategic vision, organizational dynamics, and tactics of the modern jihadist movement -- with specific attention to its primary driver, Al-Qa'ida.

Springer, Regens, and Edger draw heavily on Arabic language sources seldom seen in the West to explain what jihadists want and how radical thinkers have distorted the teachings of Islam to convince followers to pursue terrorism as a religious duty. With sophisticated and systematic analysis, the authors lead their readers on a fascinating intellectual journey through the differing ideas, goals, and vulnerabilities of the jihadist movement as it has evolved over time. The authors also impart wisdom from their own professional experience with terrorism, counterinsurgency, and intelligence to provide scholars, students, counterterrorism professionals, and general readers with this accessible overview of key radical Islamic thinkers and today's jihadists.


The dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their
dreams with open eyes, to make it possible.

T. E. Lawrence, The Seven Pillars of Wisdom

OUR MOTIVATION for writing this book grew out of our desire to understand the inherent complexity of Islamic radicalism and the global jihad. In the years after the catastrophic September 11 attacks, what was once an obscure movement on the other side of the world has become the subject of unprecedented attention: the average bookstore is filled with studies of terrorism, television shows—both fictional ones like 24, and nonfiction documentaries—have attracted large audiences, and words such as jihad have quickly entered into common usage. Unfortunately, far too often emotion rather than careful analysis has led to an oversimplification of the capabilities, motivations, and intentions of our adversaries. In the case of al-Qa'ida and its jihadist contemporaries, emotional reactions to them often result in mistakenly viewing what is in fact a diverse movement with a persistent ideology as a single, monolithic entity. To see our adversaries in this way is a disservice and a hindrance in combating their vision of intolerance, extremism, and terror.

Instead, in this volume, we seek to analyze systematically the actions and statements of the jihadists in order to understand their doctrines, strategies, and tactics. In essence, we have attempted to engage in rigorous and dispassionate analysis of the jihadist movement. We recognize that far too many experts on terrorism draw sweeping generalizations based on selectively assembling isolated facts to advocate a priori positions. We also recognize that possessing Arabic language skills is not synonymous with being a terrorism expert. In the chapters that follow, we have made a conscious effort to avoid falling prey to either pitfall in order to link together understanding of the language and knowledge about terrorism. Our analysis of terrorism and the global jihad is evidence-based and grounded in the application of the scientific method. That is, we systematically examine the doctrine, strategy, and tactics of the jihadists, especially al-Qa'ida, in order to draw conclusions. We draw heavily on our own experiences with terrorism, counterinsurgency, and intelligence. In . . .

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