Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Al Qaeda Goes Viral

Since I'm now preparing a course called Crusade and Jihad for the fall term at Nipissing University, I think about jihad every day. Jihad is a complicated phenomenon and the word has many meanings. One meaning or set of meanings that many people have a natural interest in is, "what does jihad mean to Al Qaeda, or its remnants, or its sympathizers?" Here's part of the answer. At the moment, the front page of the Washington Independent, a worthwhile news site, features an article by Spencer Ackerman, a book review of Architect of Global Jihad by Brynjar Lia, of the Norwegian Defence Research Establishment. Lia makes available to a wider audience, English-speaking audience an influential Al Qaeda text: Abu Mus'ab al-Suri's The Global Islamic Resistance Call. It's a critique of Osama bin Laden's strategy of directly attacking the United States and other non-Islamic states, instead of the "apostate" regimes of the Middle East. Perhaps more important, it has been an influential support for the idea of decentralized or viral attacks instead of a strategy of centrally directed initiatives. Well worth a look.

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