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Journey of the Jihadist: Inside Muslim Militancy Paperback – Bargain Price, March 5, 2007
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Top Customer Reviews
Gerges starts out with some background to the modern jihad movement and its founder Sayyid Qutb who matriculated at Stanford and Colorado State College of Education for two years in the 1940s. Qutb was appalled by the empty materialism and especially the sexual license he perceived. He returned to play an instrumental role in radicalizing the Muslim Brotherhood. Try The Looming Tower: Al Qaeda and the Road to 9/11 (Vintage) by Lawrence Wright for a more detailed consideration of Qutb's role in the radicalizing of Islam.
Gerges, who was raised as Greek Orthodox in Lebanon, traces the development of the jihad through three generations starting with Kamal el-Said Habib. Kamal played a role in the 1981 assassination of Anwar Sadat, but later forswore violence as means to Islamize society for political means. The second generation is represented by Osama bin Laden's personal bodyguard Abu-Jandal . Gerges identifies the third generation as uneducated youth being radicalized by the American occupation of Iraq.
Gerges attempts to demonstrate that many if not most jihadists rejected bin Laden's attack on the West, some for moral reasons, more because they viewed it an ill-advised assault on the world's superpower. Much of the antipathy toward bin Laden flows, of course from Shiites.Read more ›
Gerges's principal thesis seems to be that the Jihadist movement is far from being monolithic, elements within the community will differ on a wide variety of subjects that will range from goals to methods. This book does an excellent job in showing the various insights of Muslims. What was most surprising to me was the views of some of the very anti-American Jihadists that were interviewed by Gerges and their opposition to Bin Laden and his Al Qaeda movement. While they detest American foreign policy in general and specifically our support for Israel, they also believe that Bin Laden's actions are largely un-Islamic and extremely counterproductive for the global Jihad movement. I especially found fascinating his interviews with members of Hezbollah just after 9/11. They go to great lengths to denounce the horrific attack and to distinguish their movement from Bin Laden's.
What becomes apparent after reading this book is that there was an unique opportunity post-9/11 to engage some of the more moderate Jihadists and to quarantine the extreme sect represented by those like Bin Laden and Zawahiri. The war on terror cannot be won alone by smart bombs and soldiers. We need to find common ground and détente with the vast Muslim world that does not view world in the same nihilistic way as Bin Laden and his followers.Read more ›
The author believes that many in the West don't really comprehend the true relationship between religion and politics in the Middle East. Religion plays a huge role in Middle Eastern politics but often either as a tool or because it is the only outlet available for those unhappy with their governments (politicized religion has replaced secular nationalism as the dominant force in Muslim society). In many authoritarian regimes the only means of organizing and mobilizing activists who wish to change the political regime that governs their country is that centered on the mosque, as regional dictators have largely been successful in silencing their secular and non-religious opponents but would not dare to close down the mosques. Additionally, many of those who violently oppose a regime will couch their rhetoric and actions in religious terms in order to try and gain mass support, even though there might be many Muslims who come to regard the actions of ultramilitants as un-Islamic and even "nihilistic," having more in common with "more recent European, radical, ultraleftist, or Third Worldist movements" than with Islam. These ultraviolent groups wrote Gerges use religion only to serve their political goals, despite the fact that they don't act particularly religious at all.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The first problem with this book is that the entire aura in which the author is writing is over 10 years old, given the lead time between writing a manuscript and publication. Read morePublished 11 months ago by nonegiven
It has been a while ago that I read this book and I came away with a sense that there was something lacking in what was written by Fawaz A. Gerges. Read morePublished on December 11, 2011 by John D. Swallow
Gerges explores the mind of jihadists through interviews he had in Egypt and Lebanon between 1998 and 2006. He had access to papers previously unavailable to the West. Read morePublished on July 23, 2010 by Blaze
I appreciated the views from a non-muslim point of view. Kamals' transformation from extremist to moderate back to extremist tells me a lot about the determination of a jihadists'... Read morePublished on January 30, 2010 by William
The main thing I took from this book is just how much both sides in this new battle misunderstand each other. Read morePublished on January 11, 2010 by Matthew Smith
This book gives you the best insight into how the "Jihadi" think. The average American is not aware of the "Islamic Movement" and what it is all about. Read morePublished on November 27, 2009 by S. Raposo
I thought that this was one of the best accounts of the history and current day events leading to today's conflict with people of Muslim background. Read morePublished on June 30, 2008 by Marylee Carrier
2006's "Journey of the Jihadist" is Fawaz Gerges' investigation of Muslim militancy, a far more nuanced phenomenum than perhaps its most public face, the transnational terrorist... Read morePublished on May 6, 2008 by HMS Warspite