In Their Own Words

In Their Own Words: Voices of Jihad- Compilation and Commentary

COMPILATION AND COMMENTARY David Aaron
Copyright Date: 2008
Published by: RAND Corporation
Pages: 348
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7249/mg602rc
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  • Book Info
    In Their Own Words
    Book Description:

    This book presents the actual statements and writings of jihadis expressing their views on virtually every subject relevant to their cause. It is not about Islam as it is practiced in its many varieties in Muslim communities throughout the world, nor is it about Islamic fundamentalism or the various Islamist political movements. Rather, it is about a small group of Muslims who carry out and promote terrorism in the name of Islam. Because the jihadis' statements are often more appalling and more profoundly revealing than the accounts that have been written about jihadi terrorism, this book provides unfiltered access to a broad range of the stories, rationales, ideas, and arguments of jihadi terrorists and those who support them. Introductory and contextual material is also included, to provide the background and origins of what the jihadis are saying?to each other and to the world. It is hoped that this will provide greater insights into the motives, plans, and participants in jihadi terrorism, as well as the nature of the threat they pose. Not all of the quotations are from prominent jihadis. Some have been selected because they are representative, others because they are contradictory, and still others because they provide a unique insight into the jihadi mentality.

    eISBN: 978-0-8330-4690-1
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-ii)
  2. Preface
    (pp. iii-iv)
  3. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. Note on Sources
    (pp. xi-xii)
  6. CHAPTER ONE Introduction
    (pp. 1-8)

    In the 20th century, the West confronted three totalitarian revolutionary movements: nazism, communism, and fascism. Now the world is under assault from a fourth such movement whose members operate under many labels—Islamic terrorists or extremists, Salafi militants, Islamo-Fascists, and jihadis, to name a few. In this book, I use the term jihadi, because the movement is focused on carrying out “holy war,” which is one of the meanings of jihad.¹

    The four movements share an important characteristic: Their adherents go to great lengths to explain what they stand for and what they intend to do. Nazism followed the course...

  7. CHAPTER TWO Life in Jihad
    (pp. 9-36)

    Jihad is a way of life, so any portrait of it must begin with a picture of the lives led by jihadis. Many of them are vagabonds searching for the next conflict, wandering from Afghanistan to Algeria, Bosnia to Baghdad, Chechnya to Cairo. Despite the lyric descriptions in the poems and songs of jihad, it is a life of hardship and personal sacrifice, not romantic adventure. The violence and brutality of this life produce in jihadis a lack of affect, an emotional deadness that does not seem to be relieved by their devotion to religion.

    The reality and poverty of...

  8. CHAPTER THREE Seeds of Jihad
    (pp. 37-72)

    The concept of jihad as “holy war” goes back to the beginnings of Islam and Muhammad’s battles with the pagan¹ tribes that controlled Mecca and the Arabian Peninsula. Allah’s revelations to Muhammad by the Angel Gabrael as set forth in the Qur’an addressed many of the practical, military, moral, ethical, and religious issues that emerged from those conflicts. Scholars and proponents of jihad quoted in this book cite these Qur’anic² statements (and Hadith) to justify and explain jihadi philosophy.

    Islam developed in a time of war against not only pagans, but also Byzantines and Persians. Initially, when Muhammad was in...

  9. CHAPTER FOUR Ideology
    (pp. 73-114)

    Ideology is characterized as a body of ideas upon which particular political, economic, or social systems and movements are based. Because jihadists (and other Islamists) view Islam as encompassing both temporal and spiritual realms, it can properly be called an ideology as well as a religion. Totalitarian ideologies are typically closed intellectual systems—that is, everything can be explained and justified by the body of thought.

    The excerpts in this chapter make apparent the closed nature of jihadi ideology. They focus on the jihadi view of Islam as a revolutionary ideology that emphasizes jihad and martyrdom. The excerpts also present...

  10. CHAPTER FIVE World View
    (pp. 115-152)

    The ideology of jihadism is accompanied by somewhat unique perceptions of various aspects of the world, its institutions, its history, and the motives of major players on the world scene. It is not possible to say whether the perceptions shaped the ideology or vice-versa. Certainly, some jihadi views are propaganda and deliberate distortions of reality. But other distortions are matters of deeply held belief. Either way, they tend to reinforce the jihadi totalitarian and conspiratorial mindset. It is also true that many jihadi views on certain issues are shared by a large number of non-jihadis—the Israel/Palestine conflict being the...

  11. CHAPTER SIX Enemies
    (pp. 153-194)

    The jihadis have made no secret about who their enemies are—infidels in general, and Christians, Jews, apostate regimes, and Shi’ites in particular. This chapter focuses on how jihadis think about these enemies, with special emphasis on their views of the United States and the West. Chapter Eight discusses Shi’ites and Iran.

    “I say to the worshippers of the cross, to the sons of apes and pigs, the Jews, and to their lackeys, the infidels and apostates, in the East and the West – live in fear.” (Abu Zubeida, undated)

    “The Americans, Jews, and the Crusader West are our enemies...

  12. CHAPTER SEVEN “Prescribed for You Is Fighting . . . (2:216)”
    (pp. 195-230)

    Jihadis are not mindless terrorists, killing for the sake of killing. They have thought through the use of terrorism to achieve their ends, as they have the tactics of martyrdom for inducing terror and defeating conventional military deterrence.

    As we have seen, one of the jihadis’ key strategic debates is whether they should attack the near enemy—local apostate regimes—or the far enemy—the United States and its allies. Faraj, inThe Neglected Duty, designates the near enemy as most important (Faraj, 1979), but al-Qaeda has argued for attacking the far enemy, while al-Qaeda offshoots in Saudi Arabia and...

  13. CHAPTER EIGHT Iraq and Afghanistan
    (pp. 231-258)

    The major events in Iraq over the past five years are widely known. Therefore, rather than loosely organizing the excerpts in this chapter by subject matter, we take a more chronological approach, inserting explanatory material in footnotes.

    It is noteworthy that some jihadis saw the U.S. invasion of Iraq as an opportunity. Statements about the inevitability of the United States losing the war are undoubtedly self-serving propaganda, but that was small comfort as events unfolded in the direction the jihadis anticipated. The following excerpts, most of which are taken from correspondence between al-Zarqawi and al-Zawahiri, paint a picture of an...

  14. CHAPTER NINE Operations
    (pp. 259-300)

    The role played by al-Qaeda as an organization in the jihadi movement is no longer clear. There is little doubt that it has become more decentralized, with al-Qaeda “franchises” in Iraq and Saudi Arabia. Other groups (some of which may not really exist) have appropriated the al-Qaeda name, and still others are simply inspired by bin Laden. Algeria, Chechnya, Palestine, Lebanon, Indonesia, and the Philippines have their own homegrown jihadi organizations, some of which are affiliated with al-Qaeda.

    Some observers believe that al-Qaeda Central is still functioning on the Afghan-Pakistan border and is a source of financing, planning, and propaganda....

  15. CHAPTER TEN Conclusion
    (pp. 301-306)

    As we attempt to come to grips with the incomprehensible, it is natural to reformulate it in concepts that are familiar and that resonate meaningfully in our culture. Thus jihadis are labeled madmen, fanatics, or evil-doers. While they may be these things, such words offer no insight as to how to deal with them.

    In contrast, studying the self-portrait painted by the jihadis themselves suggests a number of conclusions that may offer practical guidance on how to respond to the jihadi movement.

    It is a commonplace to say that jihadism reflects a struggle within Islam over how to cope with...

  16. References
    (pp. 307-334)
  17. About the Author
    (pp. 335-336)