Cover image for Al-Qaeda : casting the shadow of terror
Al-Qaeda : casting the shadow of terror
Burke, Jason.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
London ; New York : I.B. Tauris, [2003]

Physical Description:
292 pages : maps ; 24 cm
Corporate Subject:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
HV6433.M52 Q34 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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On a hot summer's day in 1996 a plane carrying Osama bin Laden and a few friends and family landed just outside the eastern Afghan city of Jalalabad. The Saudi-born Islamic activist had little equipment, few followers and minimal local support. Yet within five years he had built an organization that was to carry out the most shocking and devastating terrorist attack in history.

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

Not many reporters have firsthand experience of terrorist camps, but Burke, chief reporter for London's Observer, achieved it during the 2001 war in Afghanistan. His nuanced investigation into Islamic extremist groups benefits as a result; his depth of knowledge is clear as he paints a complex portrait of al-Qaida and related groups. The outfit often called al-Qaida is, he says, actually a loose amalgam of groups that share a similar worldview: a belief in Islamic fundamentalism and antagonism toward the West. This is not new, but Burke writes clearly, and his descriptions of terror camps and religious schools-even a brief description of a bombing campaign in Afghanistan-make his work more lively and powerful than most of the recent books on the subject. Similarly, he shows that Osama bin Laden is less central to the enterprise than Western leaders think; the Islamist movement is longstanding and widespread: "This movement is growing. Osama bin Laden did not create it nor will his death or incarceration end it." As a result, he argues, the U.S. focus on bin Laden and al-Qaida is misguided and ultimately a waste of time-in fact, he says, it will only create more bin Ladens. Only a battle to "win the hearts and minds" of the Islamic world will effectively counteract the terrorist phenomenon. Unfortunately, Burke fails to address how this might be done, but he's made a strong argument that it is the road to take. Maps not seen by PW. Agent, Toby Early. (Sept. 6) Forecast: Blurbs from Gilles Kepel and Peter Bergen support the quality of Burke's work, but has the market for al-Qaida studies peaked? (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Choice Review

British journalist (the Observer) Burke synthesizes many published sources with his own interviews from throughout the Muslim world for one of the better books on Islamic terrorism. Burke disaggregates the diffuse complexity of al-Qaeda, often reified by the media and Pentagon as monolithic and centralized. (India and the Philippines tend to label every Muslim movement as "al-Qaeda.") Osama is more a public-relations symbol with a small inner circle of conspirators, surrounded by a hard core of jihadis (most of whom fought or trained in Afghanistan). The wider circle includes dozens of disparate, local Islamic revolutionary groups, which al-Qaeda coopts as it suits. Al-Qaeda is less an organization than a revolutionary mood with a strong sense of social injustice, targeted at corrupt Arab regimes and the US. Distinct from "political Islam," which aims at seizing state power, Al-Qaeda revives the old "salafi" rejection of states in favor of a pan-Islam umma. They use the revolutionary theory of a vanguard raising salafi consciousness by means of spectacular violence. Recruiting is easy from the growing numbers of educated, unemployed young males of the Muslim world. Extremely diffuse, Al-Qaeda cannot be eliminated by simple military means, but only by rejection by a moderate Muslim majority. ^BSumming Up: Highly recommended. General readers through researchers and faculty. M. G. Roskin Lycoming College

Table of Contents

The Shadow of Terror
What Is Al-Qaeda?
September 11th, Terror and Islam
Global Jihad
The Millennium Plot
The Holy War Foundation
September 11th
The War on Terror