Magazine article New Internationalist

The Rise and Fall of Al-Qaeda

Magazine article New Internationalist

The Rise and Fall of Al-Qaeda

Article excerpt

The Rise and Fall of Al-Qaeda by Fawaz A Gerges (Oxford University Press, ISBN 9780199974689)

The premise of this book is a simple, if contentious, one; that the war with al-Qaeda is over. The author's argument is that the 'terrorism narrative' advanced by the Western powers is catastrophically flawed, leading to a focus on fighting an enemy that, simply put, does not exist as portrayed by the security services.

Drawing on extensive interviews with the key players, Gerges traces the growth of al-Qaeda as it emerged from the fragmented jihadist movement of the mid-1990s. He shows that, despite high-profile atrocities both before and after 9/11, the organization has never been an all-powerful entity, able to strike at will. Unable to build a popular social base in the Arab world, al-Qaeda's political marginalization was evident in its utter irrelevance in the revolutions that swept the Arab world in 2011-12. …

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