Toward Greater Understanding: The Jihadist Ideology of Al Qaeda
Monograph rept. Jul 2009-May 2010
ARMY COMMAND AND GENERAL STAFF COLL FORT LEAVENWORTH KS SCHOOL OF ADVANCED MILITARY STUDIES
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Osama bin Laden and Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri enticed tens of thousands of Muslims from around the world to travel to Afghanistan, swear allegiance to bin Laden and the cause of Al Qaeda, fight and even die for that cause. Bin Laden united faithful Muslims under his ideological banner by making relevant the historical context of authentic Islam and promoting jihad not only as a religious obligation, but a legally sanctioned and moral responsibility of every good and true Muslim. This monograph explains Al Qaedas narrative as a jihadist organization that currently poses the greatest threat to United States and Western interests around the world. The first section offers an explanation of terms that people commonly use to describe an enemy they may not fully understand - these terms include fundamentalist, extremist, Salafi and jihadi. The next section provides a historical overview of the threat the United States faces in Afghanistan today. After explaining the roots of Al Qaeda in Afghanistan, the paper details the organizations ideology and goals as well as the historical basis for this ideology, reaching back to the Prophet Muhammad and the origins of Islam. The paper argues that in order to defeat bin Laden and Al Qaeda, it is necessary to understand the roots of Al Qaedas Islamic narrative and the environmental context that allowed these concepts to gain such a following. By understanding the true nature of the threat, United States political and military leaders will be better able to formulate plans and develop operations that counter the effectiveness of Al Qaedas messages and provide alternatives for those currently engaged in jihad against America.
- Government and Political Science
- Humanities and History
- Unconventional Warfare