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Jihad: The Trail of Political Islam Hardcover – April 15, 2002
"Devoted" by Dean Koontz
For the first time in paperback, from Dean Koontz, the master of suspense, comes an epic thriller about a terrifying killer and the singular compassion it will take to defeat him. | Learn more
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
- Item Weight : 1.76 pounds
- Hardcover : 464 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0674008774
- ISBN-13 : 978-0674008779
- Product Dimensions : 6.25 x 1.5 x 9.25 inches
- Publisher : Belknap Press; First Edition (April 15, 2002)
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #836,335 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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What seemed truly astounding when I read this book four years ago was the extent of Kepel's knowledge --- and his fundamental ignorance. I hadn't realized, as I read, that the original French edition of this book came out in 2000. Still, it is extraordinary to think a scholar as widely read as Kepel could be so wrong, as he is here, as to pronounce radical Islam and jihad on the wane.
As the intervening years have proved, nothing could have been further from the truth, and of all people, Kepel should have known it. But Kepel's lack of knowledge on the origins of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt of the 1920s, or the writings of Hassan al-Banna and his heir, Sayyed Qutb (whom Nasser hanged in 1966) did NOT lead to the author's blindness.
What caused it was most likely Kepel's lack of understanding of the fundamentals of Islam itself. Like so many writers before and after, Kepel blamed the rise of radical Islam on the backwardness of Middle Eastern society, and the lack of political power of the rising middle class.
As Laqueur noted in The Atlantic, Kepel laid the attractiveness of Qutb's radical "message and in particular his appeal to violence" to broad swaths of Egyptian society to several mostly economic and intellectual factors. Qutb resonated for "students who could not find jobs; the religiously observant lower middle class, distrustful of modernity; and, generally speaking, all those disaffected by the state of affairs in the Muslim world who had become intellectually homeless after the failure of Arab nationalist ideology and of Marxism."
Actually, however, both Qutb's philosophy and its attractiveness to Egyptians and other middle eastern Muslims were powered by the same force --- the fact that Qutb based his thinking and writings on the classical jurisprudence of Islamic scholars across the centuries. And in this respect, Qutb was no different than many other radicals whom Kepel covers, including the violent Iranian religious revolutionary, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, and Pakistan's Mawlana Mawdudi, among others.
To understand the rootedness of these "radicals" in Islamic religious precepts and Islamic history, Kepel ought to read Dr. Andrew Bostom's Legacy of Jihad.
Certainly, Kepel is right about some factors that encouraged Islamic radicals to pursue their goals at the specific times that they did: In the 1980s and early 1990s, Khomeinist fanatics terrorized Iran unchallenged, Islamists seized power in Sudan and their cohorts had attempted coups in Algeria and Egypt as well. But more importantly, ragtag Afghan Islamist armies eventually defeated the Soviet Union there, and built a very successful propaganda campaign (though undoubtedly not entirely truthful) as a result.
But Kepel did not understand how Islamists saw their defeat and alienation from the Algerian majority, Egypt's mass arrests of terrorists or Sudan's surrender of Carlos the Jackal to the French, for criminal trial. To radicals, these were merely temporary setbacks, not the heralds of permanent defeat. Nor were they at all discouraged by the rise of Iran's so-called moderate, Mohammad Khatami (who was never moderate) or the protests of Saudi women for the right to drive cars independently.
Worse, Kepel did not understand that many Islamic scholars --- whom he and many foolhardy others presume to be "reformist" thinkers --- are themselves reputedly central figures in the Muslim Brotherhood, and in any case, fundamentalists in their own right.
Take Tariq Ramadan, the grandson of MB founder Hassan al-Banna, whose visa application the U.S. State Department twice, correctly, rejected [before finally caving in early January 2010.] Kepel accepts him as the "reformer" he pretends to be. But this is utter nonsense.
As J.C. Brissard recently noted on the Terror Finance Blog, ample evidence suggests Ramadan has links to terror. A 1999 Spanish police General Directorate memo, for example, stated that Ahmed Brahim --- who last April received a 10 year sentence for incitement to terrorism --- maintained "regular contacts with important figures of radical Islam such as Tariq Ramadan."
Likewise, Djamel Beghal --- sentenced to 10 years in March 2005 for participating in a foiled attack on the US Embassy in Paris --- in September 2001 aligned his religious "engagement" to the 1994 time when "he was in charge of writing the statements of Tariq Ramadan." Beghal later said he had also "attended the courses given by Tarek Ramadan." And "brothers Hani and Tariq Ramadan," according to a 2001 Swiss intelligence memo, together planned a 1991 Geneva meeting between Al Qaeda leader Ayman Al Zawahiri and Omar Abdel Rahman, mastermind of the 1993 World Trade Center attack. This was confirmed by the member of a Geneva mosque, who heard Hani Ramadan announce the upcoming meeting.
While Kepel conducted extensive and sometimes useful research, his conclusions are unreal.
--Alyssa A. Lappen