By consulting the work of well-known and obscure al-Qaeda
theoreticians, Michael W. S. Ryan finds jihadist terrorism strategy
has more in common with the principles of Maoist guerrilla warfare
than mainstream Islam. Encouraging strategists and researchers to
devote greater attention to jihadi ideas rather than jihadist
military operations, Ryan builds an effective framework for
analyzing al-Qaeda's plans against America and constructs a
compelling counternarrative to the West's supposed "war on
Ryan examines the Salafist roots of al-Qaeda ideology and the
contributions of its most famous founders, Osama Bin Laden and
Ayman al-Zawahiri, in a political-military context. He also reads
the Arabic-language works of lesser known theoreticians who have
played an instrumental role in framing al-Qaeda's so-called war of
the oppressed. These authors readily cite the guerrilla strategies
of Mao, Che Guevara, and the mastermind of the Vietnam War, General
Giap. They also incorporate the arguments of American theorists
writing on "fourth-generation warfare."
Through these texts, readers experience events as insiders see
them, and by concentrating on the activities and pronouncements of
al-Qaeda's thought leaders, especially in Yemen, they discern the
direct link between al-Qaeda's tactics and trends in anti-U.S.
terrorism. Ryan shows al-Qaeda's political-military strategy to be
a revolutionary and largely secular departure from the classic
Muslim conception of jihad, adding invaluable dimensions to the
operational, psychological, and informational strategies already
deployed by America's military in the region.
Subjects: Political Science, History
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