Knowing the Enemy: Jihadist Ideology and the War on Terror

Language: English

Pages: 256

ISBN: 0300113064

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

After September 11, Americans agonized over why nineteen men hated the United States enough to kill three thousand civilians in an unprovoked assault. Analysts have offered a wide variety of explanations for the attack, but the one voice missing is that of the terrorists themselves. This penetrating book is the first to present the inner logic of al-Qa’ida and like-minded extremist groups by which they justify September 11 and other terrorist attacks.

Mary Habeck explains that these extremist groups belong to a new movement—known as jihadism—with a specific ideology based on the thought of Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab, Hasan al-Banna, and Sayyid Qutb. Jihadist ideology contains new definitions of the unity of God and of jihad, which allow members to call for the destruction of democracy and the United States and to murder innocent men, women, and children. Habeck also suggests how the United States might defeat the jihadis, using their own ideology against them.











The Qur’an, the Muwatta’ and Madinan ‘Amal (Richmond, Surrey: Curzon, 1999), 121–125, and as it specifically applies to jihad in Reuven Firestone, Jihad. The Origin of Holy War in Islam (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999), 48 – 50. 8. Of the six hadith collections, three have been translated in their entirety into English—the two Sahih (Sahih Muslim and Sahih Bukhari), and the Sunan Abu Dawud. 9. This is, of course, the traditional Muslim view of the hadith. Modern scholars contend that there is reason to doubt the validity of many of the hadith.

As Hamid Algar points out, it would be a mistake then to see a direct line and connection between Wahhabism and the later salafi movements. Instead, Wahhab’s ideas would come to influence the modern “Islamic Awakening,” when individual Muslims migrated to Saudi Arabia for employment during the sixties and seventies and there were exposed to his thought, and when the oil shocks of the seventies gave Wahhabi preachers millions of petrodollars to spread their version of Islam throughout the world. 20 The numerous revival movements that sprang up during the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries 25 Historical Context did, however, share one characteristic with that of Wahhab: they too had little to do with external pressures from Europeans or other invaders and much more to do with the internal dynamics of Islamic countries.

38 On 3 March 1924 they finally succeeded, carrying out what one jihadi has called “the mother of all crimes”: the abolition of the Caliphate. 39 In the jihadist understanding of this catastrophe, the imperialists wanted to dismantle the Caliphate primarily because their enmity for Islam compelled them to do so, and not for imperial profit. Kemal Atatürk was thus the tool of the Jews and British and French colonialists, who used him to strike a decisive blow against the only entity that could uphold the rules 94 The Clash of Civilizations, Part I and laws of Islam.

AlBanna, however, directed his call not to unbelievers, but to Muslims themselves, calling them back to the true Islam, to transforming themselves into true believers, and to making their society into a true Islamic state. The other side to da‘wa was jihad, al-Banna’s second contribution to Islamic thought in the twentieth century. Wahhab had directed his fighting against Muslim “heretics,” not the infidels, but now al-Banna argued that once enough faithful Muslims had risen through the call to true Islam, they would again take up their just war with the unbelievers.

They believe that they are maintaining the truth even if “so-called” Muslims have long since fallen into apostasy and sin. Given the extremists’ peculiar views of the sacred texts, jihadist warfare has taken on distinctive characteristics, including a belief in retaliation in kind, an idea that the essence of warfare is deception, and the use of suicide (martyrdom) operations. The Qur’an and the hadith support the notion of justice in retaliation, exemplified by the lex talionis (law of retaliation) and there is explicit support for attacking someone in the same way that he 122 The Clash of Civilizations, Part II attacks the believers.

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