Wednesday, August 22, 2007

The Al Qaeda Reader

Looking for some interesting end of summer reading?

Try this: The Al Qaeda Reader.

Compiled by Raymond Ibrahim, who works in the Library of Congress' Near East section, the book gives you the chance to read for yourself the twisted views of Osama bin Laden and Aymin al Zawahiri.

Bringing together essential texts and documents, the book is divided into two sections: theology-- where bin Landen and al Zawahiri justify their violent vision from the Koran and Islamic tradition-- and propaganda-- where they invoke Western guilt by railing against every imaginable U.S. policy.

From the book description at Amazon:
Perhaps the most disturbing aspect of these works is how grounded they are in the traditional sources of Islamic theology: the Koran and the teachings of the Prophet. The founders of al-Qaeda use these sources as powerful weapons of persuasion, reminding followers (and would-be recruits) that Muhammad and his warriors spread Islam through the power of the sword and that the Koran is not merely allegory or history but literal truth that commands all Muslims to action.

In addition to laying bare al-Qaeda’s ultimate motives, The Al Qaeda Reader includes the organization’s propagandist speeches, which are directed primarily at Americans, Europeans, and Iraqis. Here, al-Qaeda’s many "official" accusations against the West are meticulously delineated, from standard complaints such as the Palestinian issue and Iraq to wholly unexpected ones concerning the U.S.’s exploitation of women and the environment.

Taken together, the Theology and Propaganda sections of this volume reveal the most comprehensive picture of al-Qaeda to date. They also highlight the double-speak of bin Laden and Zawahiri, who often say one thing to Muslims in their religious treatises ("We must hate and fight the West because Islam commands it") and another in their propaganda directed at the West ("The West is the aggressor and we are fighting back merely in self-defense").
Want to know more? Check out this excellent book review by Bruce Thorton.

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