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Decoding Al-Qaeda's Strategy: The Deep Battle Against America (Columbia Studies in Terrorism and Irregular Warfare) Hardcover – August 13, 2013

5 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

Michael W. S. Ryan's illumination of the ideology and strategy of al-Qaeda as seen in the writings of its key theoreticians is unique and valuable. This is an important and insightful book that provides both new information on al-Qaeda and new commentary on its strategy and how to defeat it.

(Bruce Riedel, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution)

Osama bin Laden is dead, al-Qaeda 'prime' in Pakistan is decimated, and yet the anti-Western jihad continues as extremism erupts in Yemen, Libya, Syria, Algeria, and elsewhere. Unless we can match our tactical successes with strategic progress, we seem condemned to endless war. Thankfully, Ryan shows us a way forward in his thoughtful, non-polemic analysis of this enemy's doctrine and motivation―the essential first step in combating not just its actions but also its ideas. This book is a blueprint for taking our fight to the next level.

(General Michael Hayden, former director of the CIA)

A highly readable account of the evolution of al-Qaeda's strategic thinking. Drawing upon existing scholarship and new primary sources, Ryan offers not only a lucid exposé of al-Qaeda's key strategic thinkers and their works but also new insight into the logic and rationale informing al-Qaeda's violent campaigns.

(Brynjar Lia, Norwegian Defence Research Establishment, author of Architect of Global Jihad: The Life of Al-Qaeda Strategist Abu Mus'ab Al-Suri)

Knowledge of the enemy is essential in any conflict, and Ryan delivers. His analysis of al-Qaeda's theology, strategy, tactics, and ability to marshal support even among people who disapprove of its methods is timely, well written,deeply researched, and ultimately reassuring.

(Thomas W. Lippman, author of Saudi Arabia on the Edge)

An outstanding and unique contribution that examines al-Qaeda's strategy against the US.... Highly recommended.

(Choice)

Book Description

The first book to draw a blueprint for defeating al-Qaeda on ideological rather than military grounds.

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Product Details

  • Series: Columbia Studies in Terrorism and Irregular Warfare
  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press (August 13, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0231163843
  • ISBN-13: 978-0231163842
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.3 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,247,606 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Michael W.S. Ryan's Decoding Al-Qaeda's Strategy investigates the relationship between jihadist terrorism strategy and the principles of guerrilla warfare. His thorough investigation of texts by al-Qaeda theoreticians makes his brilliant description of how the West should respond to al-Qaeda straightforward and simple. The instances where Dr. Ryan details the type of battle that should be fought, how the West can reach out to Muslims who do not support al-Qaeda, and how different players are misunderstood are particularly impressive. Policymakers, people in the intelligence community, and anyone looking to develop a better understanding of the ideological war between the West and al-Qaeda should read this book.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A concise and in depth presentation of the authors and their writings in the Al-Qaeda universe, and how how their influence played out in the previous years. Michael Ryan describes and reviews the strategies of al-Qaeda, the authors of these strategies, and where theyborrowed their guerilla strategies from (Giap, Mao, Che Guevara, etc.). How well or poorly these strategies and implementations of these policies have worked out for the Jihadists. Very helpful for novices andexperts alike.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
There is no shortage of books on al-Qaeda, but Mike Ryan's work is in a class by itself. He skillfully (part of his edge comes from his ability to access and read the original Arabic sources) peels back the onion for us, revealing the core of al-Qaeda's strategic thinking. His focus is less on the actions of al-Qaeda, but more on the ideas that animate those actions. This approach is a powerful lens into understanding the organization itself, but also into why its ideas have so much power in the region. He skillfully anchors al-Qaeda's strategic views to some of the earlier political Islamic thinkers, like Sayyid Qutb of Egypt, and then connects the dots between the earlier thinkers and the terrorist group's current strategic thinking.

One of the most powerful ways to understand an opponent's strategy is to discover its world view. Ryan gives the reader a marvelous (albeit at times terrifying) glimpse into how al-Qaeda perceives the world, the role of the United States in it, and how current political structures can potentially be upended by a combination of powerful Islamic ideas and violent action. Drawing from original sources discovered after 9/11, he gives us the full array of al-Qaeda's strategic ideas, teasing out many of the subtleties in the thinking that both unify and divide the organization.

One central thesis of the book is that while the symbols and ideas used by al-Qaeda are Islamic in content, much of the organization's strategic thought comes from secular strategic thinkers like Mao. This portrayal of al-Qaeda's duality gives us an understanding of how the organization's actions are informed by dogma and doctrine, but also by very practical notions of strategy and revolution.
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Format: Hardcover
Good work that will help you understand Al Qaeda's strategies
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