The Rise and Fall of Al-Qaeda

Overview


In this concise and fascinating book, Fawaz A. Gerges argues that Al-Qaeda has degenerated into a fractured, marginal body kept alive largely by the self-serving anti-terrorist bureaucracy it helped to spawn.

In The Rise and Fall of Al-Qaeda, Gerges, a public intellectual known widely for his expertise on radical ideologies, including jihadism, argues that the Western powers have become mired in a "terrorism narrative," stemming from the mistaken belief that America is in ...

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The Rise and Fall of Al-Qaeda

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Overview


In this concise and fascinating book, Fawaz A. Gerges argues that Al-Qaeda has degenerated into a fractured, marginal body kept alive largely by the self-serving anti-terrorist bureaucracy it helped to spawn.

In The Rise and Fall of Al-Qaeda, Gerges, a public intellectual known widely for his expertise on radical ideologies, including jihadism, argues that the Western powers have become mired in a "terrorism narrative," stemming from the mistaken belief that America is in danger of a devastating attack by a crippled al-Qaeda. To explain why al-Qaeda is no longer a threat, he provides a briskly written history of the organization, showing its emergence from the disintegrating local jihadist movements of the mid-1990s-not just the Afghan resistance of the 1980s, as many believe-in "a desperate effort to rescue a sinking ship by altering its course." During this period, Gerges interviewed many jihadis, gaining a first-hand view of the movement that bin Laden tried to reshape by internationalizing it. Gerges reveals that transnational jihad has attracted but a small minority within the Arab world and possesses no viable social and popular base. Furthermore, he shows that the attacks of September 11, 2001, were a major miscalculation--no "river" of fighters flooded from Arab countries to defend al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, as bin Laden expected. The democratic revolutions that swept the Middle East in early 2011 show that al-Qaeda today is a non-entity which exercises no influence over Arabs' political life.

Gerges shows that there is a link between the new phenomenon of homegrown extremism in Western societies and the war on terror, particularly in Afghanistan-Pakistan, and that homegrown terror exposes the structural weakness, not strength, of bin Laden's al-Qaeda. Gerges concludes that the movement has splintered into feuding factions, neutralizing itself more effectively than any Predator drone.

Forceful, incisive, and written with extensive inside knowledge, this book will alter the debate on global terrorism.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"A masterly and trenchant account of the origins of al Qaeda and its decline after 9/11." --Foreign Affairs

"An equally important, but little-noted, angle to the [September 11 attacks] that Western readers would do well to ponder." - Bookforum

"Worth reading" - The Economist

"A cogent examination of al-Qaeda's historical trajectory that integrates major recent developments into its comprehensive analysis." -Library Journal

"Gerges provides an important alternative to that narrative that should be read by policy makers and the general public alike."--John Voll, Georgetown University

Library Journal
Gerges (director, Middle East Ctr., London Sch. of Economics; Journey of the Jihadist) argues that the U.S. military and foreign policy establishment are entangled within a "terrorism narrative" sustained by an inflated, distorted view of al-Qaeda's operational capabilities and global reach, which he contends were drastically degraded even before Osama bin Laden's death. The peaceful character of some recent revolutions in the Arab world appear to add weight to Gerges's primary assertion, one of the major strands of this work, that al-Qaeda has long since lost any significant support or legitimacy, in part because of the indiscriminate slaughter of Muslims instigated by al-Qaeda operatives in Iraq, and that their ideology and tactics have been resoundingly rejected by large segments of the Arab populace. Gerges also focuses on al-Qaeda's role in the increasing instability in Yemen and its influence on "homegrown" radicals in America. VERDICT A cogent examination of al-Qaeda's historical trajectory that integrates major recent developments into its comprehensive analysis. This work will appeal to readers with an advanced grasp of Middle Eastern history and counterterrorism studies. It is not for general readers, although they may have seen Gerges speak accessibly as an expert on cable news.—Dennis J. Seese, American Univ. Lib., Washington, DC
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780199974689
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication date: 2/3/2014
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 272
  • Sales rank: 791,279
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.10 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Fawaz A. Gerges, the Director of the Middle East Centre at the London School of Economics, is Professor of Middle Eastern Politics and International Relations. His books include Journey of the Jihadist and The Far Enemy: Why Jihad Went Global.

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Table of Contents

Intro: Life After Death
1: The Rise of al-Qaeda
2: The Growing Rift
3: A Success and a Miscalculation
4: Decline and Fall
5: Legacies and Aftershocks
Conclusion: Down to Size

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