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What do our enemies believe?  What motivates their war against the West?  What is their vision of the ideal Islamic society?  Surprisingly, more than five years after 9/11, there is very little understanding of these questions.  Despite our tendency to dismiss Islamic extremism as profoundly irrational, al-Qaeda is not without a coherent body of beliefs.  Like other totali What do our enemies believe?  What motivates their war against the West?  What is their vision of the ideal Islamic society?  Surprisingly, more than five years after 9/11, there is very little understanding of these questions.  Despite our tendency to dismiss Islamic extremism as profoundly irrational, al-Qaeda is not without a coherent body of beliefs.  Like other totalitarian movements, the movement’s leaders have rationalized their brutality in a number of published treatises.  Now, for the first time, The Al Qaeda Reader gathers together the essential texts and documents that trace the origin, history, and evolution of the ideas of al-Qaeda founders Ayman al-Zawahiri and Osama bin Laden.  This extraordinary collection of the key texts of the al-Qaeda movement—including incendiary materials never before translated into English—lays bare the minds, motives, messages, and ultimate goals of an enemy bent on total victory. Al-Qaeda’s chilling ideology calls for a relentless jihad against non-Muslim “infidels,” repudiates democracy in favor of Islamic law, stresses the importance of martyrdom, and mocks the notion of “moderate” Islam. 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"). Westerners from across the political spectrum will be fascinated and enlightened by The Al Qaeda Reader’s insights into the nature of Islamic texts and the ways in which al-Qaeda has used these texts to manufacture hatred against our civilization and our way of life.


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What do our enemies believe?  What motivates their war against the West?  What is their vision of the ideal Islamic society?  Surprisingly, more than five years after 9/11, there is very little understanding of these questions.  Despite our tendency to dismiss Islamic extremism as profoundly irrational, al-Qaeda is not without a coherent body of beliefs.  Like other totali What do our enemies believe?  What motivates their war against the West?  What is their vision of the ideal Islamic society?  Surprisingly, more than five years after 9/11, there is very little understanding of these questions.  Despite our tendency to dismiss Islamic extremism as profoundly irrational, al-Qaeda is not without a coherent body of beliefs.  Like other totalitarian movements, the movement’s leaders have rationalized their brutality in a number of published treatises.  Now, for the first time, The Al Qaeda Reader gathers together the essential texts and documents that trace the origin, history, and evolution of the ideas of al-Qaeda founders Ayman al-Zawahiri and Osama bin Laden.  This extraordinary collection of the key texts of the al-Qaeda movement—including incendiary materials never before translated into English—lays bare the minds, motives, messages, and ultimate goals of an enemy bent on total victory. Al-Qaeda’s chilling ideology calls for a relentless jihad against non-Muslim “infidels,” repudiates democracy in favor of Islamic law, stresses the importance of martyrdom, and mocks the notion of “moderate” Islam. 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"). Westerners from across the political spectrum will be fascinated and enlightened by The Al Qaeda Reader’s insights into the nature of Islamic texts and the ways in which al-Qaeda has used these texts to manufacture hatred against our civilization and our way of life.

30 review for The Al Qaeda Reader: The Essential Texts of Osama Bin Laden's Terrorist Organization

  1. 4 out of 5

    Varmint

    "They hate us because we don't know why they hate us." only Bill Maher could say something so stupid. Turns out they hate us because they're psychotic religious fanatics. And we're standing in their way. It's not poverty, racism, or even global warming. Ibrahim does a good job of translating the fatwas into something that reads. Probably not an easy job. Will never be considered a light summer book. But can be gone through in stages. And well worth the time. "They hate us because we don't know why they hate us." only Bill Maher could say something so stupid. Turns out they hate us because they're psychotic religious fanatics. And we're standing in their way. It's not poverty, racism, or even global warming. Ibrahim does a good job of translating the fatwas into something that reads. Probably not an easy job. Will never be considered a light summer book. But can be gone through in stages. And well worth the time.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Amber

    This is the only book of it's kind. It provides translations of original Al Qaeda documents, those meant for Westerners and those meant only for Islamist eyes. If you have ever wondered what it is that drives people to blow up buildings half way around the world this is your book. It is not the easiest reading. There is only so much "we need to kill Americans and here are the reasons why" I could stand at a time and translating from Arabic has its difficulties. However, the insight the book prov This is the only book of it's kind. It provides translations of original Al Qaeda documents, those meant for Westerners and those meant only for Islamist eyes. If you have ever wondered what it is that drives people to blow up buildings half way around the world this is your book. It is not the easiest reading. There is only so much "we need to kill Americans and here are the reasons why" I could stand at a time and translating from Arabic has its difficulties. However, the insight the book provides is well worth the time it takes to get through reading it.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Ashley

    Ibrahim's politics is clear from the outset, but if you can look beyond his own pro-war(ish) stance there is a lot of useful information in this book. It is divided between theological and "propaganda" documents. I was most interested in the theological arguments because they outline the ideology of Al Qaeda that is implemented in terrorist acts and espoused in the propaganda. This isn't exactly an easy book to read-- bin Laden and his associates are hardly excellent writers and, of course, there Ibrahim's politics is clear from the outset, but if you can look beyond his own pro-war(ish) stance there is a lot of useful information in this book. It is divided between theological and "propaganda" documents. I was most interested in the theological arguments because they outline the ideology of Al Qaeda that is implemented in terrorist acts and espoused in the propaganda. This isn't exactly an easy book to read-- bin Laden and his associates are hardly excellent writers and, of course, there are issues with the translation. Overall, however, this book is pretty useful and worth having on hand for reference.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Michael Griswold

    The Al Qaeda reader should be required reading for any student of Political Science who wants to understand terrorism. In their own words, Al Qaeda tells the western world why they are attacking Western interests and what they want. The question needs to be asked if the United States did everything Al Qaeda wants, would the jihad be over, or would Al Qaeda just find something else about the West they could hate? As with most readers or collection of speaches, themes are repeated at nausea, but a The Al Qaeda reader should be required reading for any student of Political Science who wants to understand terrorism. In their own words, Al Qaeda tells the western world why they are attacking Western interests and what they want. The question needs to be asked if the United States did everything Al Qaeda wants, would the jihad be over, or would Al Qaeda just find something else about the West they could hate? As with most readers or collection of speaches, themes are repeated at nausea, but any discussion of modern terrorism should begin with this book.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Michael Powell

    If you are still trying to figure out why so many "extremists" around the world do not understand Islam to be the peaceful religion that Presidents Bush and Obama claim, READ THIS BOOK. Preferably along with your own copy of the Quran. If you are still trying to figure out why so many "extremists" around the world do not understand Islam to be the peaceful religion that Presidents Bush and Obama claim, READ THIS BOOK. Preferably along with your own copy of the Quran.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Shannon Ellsworth

    Hands down the best book I have ever read describing what drives Al Qaeda. For anyone remotely interested in this topic I'd call this absolute essential reading. Truly enlightening and somewhat horrifying hopeless in our chances of ever establishing peace with such a group. Hands down the best book I have ever read describing what drives Al Qaeda. For anyone remotely interested in this topic I'd call this absolute essential reading. Truly enlightening and somewhat horrifying hopeless in our chances of ever establishing peace with such a group.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Sean Rife

    I say I "liked it", but that's probably an understatement. I should clarify... if you want to understand Takfirism/Wahhabism/Qutbism (the terminology here seems to be changing regularly, and I'm having trouble keeping up), this book is essential. The Communist Manifesto of my generation. I say I "liked it", but that's probably an understatement. I should clarify... if you want to understand Takfirism/Wahhabism/Qutbism (the terminology here seems to be changing regularly, and I'm having trouble keeping up), this book is essential. The Communist Manifesto of my generation.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Jukka

    The Al Qaeda Reader - Raymond Ibrahim This is to go with Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Skip Unger

    This is the only book I've seen that attempts to provide all core Al Qaeda doctrine, theology and themes. For that reason alone, I have to give it four stars. The author's view that AQ doctrine represents fundamental Islamic teachings is not hidden. That aspect is debatable and is the focus of much discussion in the Islamic world. But what is not debatable is the clear foundation of Bin Laden's philosophy of permanent, non-negotiable violent global jihad. And clearly the most influential events This is the only book I've seen that attempts to provide all core Al Qaeda doctrine, theology and themes. For that reason alone, I have to give it four stars. The author's view that AQ doctrine represents fundamental Islamic teachings is not hidden. That aspect is debatable and is the focus of much discussion in the Islamic world. But what is not debatable is the clear foundation of Bin Laden's philosophy of permanent, non-negotiable violent global jihad. And clearly the most influential events that form that view are the Soviet defeat in Afghanistan, the first and second Gulf Wars, and the ongoing subjugation of Palestinians by Israel. Therefor, even though Bin Laden is now dead, his deputy and chief theologian, Zawahiri, is not and the drivers of this violent ideology will likely live on for years to come. For that reason this is worth reading to see threat the United States will continue to face in the years ahead.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Jason P

    It was more or less what expected, but it is gonna be very valuable for research purposes. However, I'm only giving it 3 stars because the rantings of two Islamic extremists get repetitive and boring rather quickly. They're neither good writers, nor can they make very strong arguments for anything other than claiming the Quran or Hadith says so. If anything, it's really just telling how damned the Salifist Ideology is. It was more or less what expected, but it is gonna be very valuable for research purposes. However, I'm only giving it 3 stars because the rantings of two Islamic extremists get repetitive and boring rather quickly. They're neither good writers, nor can they make very strong arguments for anything other than claiming the Quran or Hadith says so. If anything, it's really just telling how damned the Salifist Ideology is.

  11. 4 out of 5

    T

    Fascinating read, especially enjoyed the first half of the book which covered Al Qaeda's theological views. Fascinating read, especially enjoyed the first half of the book which covered Al Qaeda's theological views.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Gary Patton

    This short and readable book will scare the living daylight out of you. It will do so because it documents the truth, in English, of what was available, in Arabic, ...even before the 9/11... on the shelves in the Library of Congress. It was there for those tasked to protect North America to read. But they didn't read them! Raymond Ibrahim, who I have gotten to know and trust, did read them. He translates some key documentation regarding the anti-Infidel and anti-western beliefs and the plans of I This short and readable book will scare the living daylight out of you. It will do so because it documents the truth, in English, of what was available, in Arabic, ...even before the 9/11... on the shelves in the Library of Congress. It was there for those tasked to protect North America to read. But they didn't read them! Raymond Ibrahim, who I have gotten to know and trust, did read them. He translates some key documentation regarding the anti-Infidel and anti-western beliefs and the plans of Islamic jihadists for you. Mr. Ibrahim does so in a helpful and organized manner as an Arabic speaker and trained historian raised in both Egypt and the U.S.. The documents include the public letters, media releases and other writings of one of the worst Islamic terrorist organizations on the planet. The Library of Congress collected them before the names of Osama Bin Laden and his cohorts became household names throughout the West because the planes Bin Laden's Muslim jihadists piloted were crashed into New York's Twin Towers. Some of the translated documents go as far back as when al-Qaeda was bombing embassies and trying to sink U.S. ships ...still far from the shores of the Americas. They disclose what so-called "Moderate Street Muslims" around the world actually are told by Islamic terrorist organizations regardless of the language they speak ...not the drivel Jihadist leaders still feed today to apologetic-oriented, gullible, liberal media and politicians in the West. These documents illustrate clearly that the horrors of terrorist jihadism are rooted not in the minds of a few crazy Muslim extremists, who are perverting peaceful Islam, as Islamic apologists and their media supporters worldwide want us to believe. The documents expose and put to a lie what all Islamic apologists, including many Western media, deny! They expose the truth that the Islamic deity, Allah, commands hate and violent jihad, not peace, towards all Infidels (non-Muslims), especially Christians and Jews. Allah, not the Christian God revealed in Jesus, does so in his Holy Books, the Koran (Qur'an in Arabic) and Hadith. Hadith are the alleged commentaries on Muhammad's life which many scholars, even Muslim ones, call apocryphal myths. Nonetheless, Hadith are taught to and believed by Muslims as second only to the Koran as guides for their day-to-day behaviour. Hadith are filled with incredible hate and violence. They are liberally quoted throughout jihadist documents for that reason. The words of the radical jihadists themselves clearly prove that their terrorism is rooted in the commands of the main Muslim Holy Book, the Qur'an, directly from the mouth of their hateful god, Allah, and warrior prophet, Muhammad in verses like Koran 5:33, 9:5 and 9:29, among many, many more. "The truth will set you free" from the lies which Islamic apologists want us to believe, and feed us daily, in the popular press and on TV using "taqiyya" (Arabic). Taqiyya is intentional lying to advance Islam. This propaganda technique is called "liefare" by terrorism experts, i.e, lies + warfare. "Liefare" or stealth jihad, is commanded by Allah in the Koran where he actually models himself for Muslims as the "best of deceivers" in relationships. The phrase in Koran 8:30 is intentionally mistranslated to the more politically-correct "best of planners" by Muslim apologists. One or more of Koran 3:28, 16:106, & 66:2, among others, are the verses usually cited by Muslim Imams, Mullahs and all Islamic Schools of Jurisprudence as justifying taqiyya against Infidels with 3:28 being key. Please look up the above-referenced hateful verses and read them for yourself in a Koran. You also can easily copy them into the search engine on http://www.quran.com.) It's because of the truths detailed in these documents that so-called Muslim moderates who don't speak out about Islamic terrorism are labeled "Passive Terrorists" by Tawfik Hamid. Mr. Hamid is an Egyptian born and trained MD, who is an ex-radical violent jihadist. He is now a Senior Fellow and Chair for the Study of Islamic Radicalism at the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies. (You'll discover Mr. Hamid's "ABCs of Radical Islam" on his site at http://www.TawfikHamid.com.) After reading Mr. Ibrahim's book You become better educated and empowered to speak to your politicians about truths many won't believe out of ignorance or choose NOT to for many reasons. Blessings, GaryFPatton (gfp '42™ 2012-11-01)

  13. 5 out of 5

    Peter

    A very interesting look into some of Al-Qaeda's public messages. This book is essentially a collection of some of the key pieces of propaganda and communication coming from Al-Qaeda to their supporters and detractors. The book offers some rarely, if ever before, translated texts from Osama Bin-Laden as well as his 2nd in command Aymam al-Zawahiri. From the lengthy retort aimed at Arab governments who cooperate with America, to the brief clip taken from various news articles and web postings, the A very interesting look into some of Al-Qaeda's public messages. This book is essentially a collection of some of the key pieces of propaganda and communication coming from Al-Qaeda to their supporters and detractors. The book offers some rarely, if ever before, translated texts from Osama Bin-Laden as well as his 2nd in command Aymam al-Zawahiri. From the lengthy retort aimed at Arab governments who cooperate with America, to the brief clip taken from various news articles and web postings, the text contained allows the reader to more clearly understand both the intentions, as well as the motivations behind this group.

  14. 5 out of 5

    F.

    Great book. This is a collection of the texts, letters, news releases, etcetera that have never before been published or translated in English. It really gives you an insight into exactly how crazy the organization and its leadership really is. Anyone who has a copy of the Quran around will want to keep it handy when reading this so that you can reference it and see exactly how Al'Qaeda takes things out of context and manipulates what is written. Great book. This is a collection of the texts, letters, news releases, etcetera that have never before been published or translated in English. It really gives you an insight into exactly how crazy the organization and its leadership really is. Anyone who has a copy of the Quran around will want to keep it handy when reading this so that you can reference it and see exactly how Al'Qaeda takes things out of context and manipulates what is written.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Yana Shevkirova

    It wasn't a mind-blowing account of what is the aim and driving force behind radical organizations, such as AQ. However, it was interesting to read as an addition, since it adds up to the picture of grievances, accumulated during the last 20 years within the people in the Middle East. So UBL's statements do confirm what the mainstream theory behind the terrorists' motives is. It wasn't a mind-blowing account of what is the aim and driving force behind radical organizations, such as AQ. However, it was interesting to read as an addition, since it adds up to the picture of grievances, accumulated during the last 20 years within the people in the Middle East. So UBL's statements do confirm what the mainstream theory behind the terrorists' motives is.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Mike Edwards

    A collection of excerpts from the teachings of radical Islamists. The book is incredibly important in a "know thine enemy" sort of way, and it gives some very useful insights into al Qaeda's struggle to reestablish a global caliphate based upon strict Islamist principals. A collection of excerpts from the teachings of radical Islamists. The book is incredibly important in a "know thine enemy" sort of way, and it gives some very useful insights into al Qaeda's struggle to reestablish a global caliphate based upon strict Islamist principals.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Molly

    Mr. Ibrahim was born in Egypt and is fluent in Arabic. He personally translated speeches from Al Qaeda leaders and compared them to the English versions and found there were major differences. This is an eye-opening book that every American should read.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Erin

    Very well organized and translated. Worth the read to better understand what al Qaeda is trying to achieve and to what extent we can ever expect its followers to make peace with the West.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Nick Woodall

    A compilation of Al Qaeda's writings and pronunciations. Very sobering. This is what muslims really think of the United States and Israel. A compilation of Al Qaeda's writings and pronunciations. Very sobering. This is what muslims really think of the United States and Israel.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Jaime

    you got it..it's for work! well recommended by coworker; it's a compilation of translated AQ documents that explain the groups genesis, ideologies, etc. Bonanno, you'd probably like it. you got it..it's for work! well recommended by coworker; it's a compilation of translated AQ documents that explain the groups genesis, ideologies, etc. Bonanno, you'd probably like it.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Chloe

    Very interesting and intriguing...

  22. 4 out of 5

    Anthony Kirk

    For anyone who wants a better understanding of Al Qaeda and their philosophy, this is the perfect book.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Behzad Raufi

  24. 5 out of 5

    Mitch B

  25. 5 out of 5

    Hassan

  26. 5 out of 5

    Tara

  27. 5 out of 5

    Sam Kirschbaum

  28. 4 out of 5

    Jeremy

  29. 4 out of 5

    Tammy

  30. 5 out of 5

    NK Finney

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