Polish While not formally connected, two books I recently finished reading — St. Francis of Assisi and the Conversion of Muslims and Defying Death: Zakaria Botross, Apostle to Islam — complement each other very well, specifically by establishing continuity between medieval and modern Islam, and, in so doing, demonstrating that Islamic intolerance has a long pedigree. For instance, after […]
Ibrahim, an Arabic language specialist at the Library of Congress at the time he wrote The Al Qaeda Reader, has compiled a collection of screeds by Al-Qaeda’s top figures, Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri, that reveal in full the deranged world-view that drives the global Islamist terrorist network.
Ibrahim’s translations are an important contribution to the field. Rather than serve as a middleman, as most analysts do, Ibrahim allows Al-Qaeda to articulate for itself the anti-Semitism, xenophobia, paranoia, anti-modernism, and anarchism that drive its terrorist agenda against the United States and America’s “infidel” allies.
“Stop hurting us and we’ll stop hurting you.” That is the message Americans get from al Qaeda. In his fascinating new book, historian Raymond Ibrahim explains that the jihadists say one thing to CNN, and quite another to fellow Muslims.
I had the opportunity to interview Ibrahim last summer at the Library of Congress, where he is a researcher in the Near East section of the African and Middle Eastern division. Ibrahim summarized Osama’s message to Muslims: “Irrespective of what the West does and does not do, they are always the enemy for no other reason than that they won’t accept Islam.”
Recently, Raymond Ibrahim edited and translated into English a decade’s worth of public releases by al Qaeda’s leadership. Published by Broadway Books, with partial proceeds donated to the Committee to Protect Journalists, Ibrahim’s The Al Qaeda Reader is not only a timely fountainhead for the United States citizenry’s understanding of our Jihadi enemies, it is also a necessary release for all Muslims living under secular governments to grapple with in the coming years.
The most important magazine article you’ve never read this year appeared Sep. 21 in The Chronicle Review, a publication of The Chronicle of Higher Education.
It’s about a librarian. Really.
The author, Raymond Ibrahim, describes how it is he came to translate the internal communiques and theological statements of the leaders of al-Qaeda, and what those leaders really say. Here’s a hint: It’s not what Israel’s new batch of best-selling critics say they say.
There’s a tendency among many who, like me, identify on the left side of the political spectrum to treat terrorism as an issue with one fundamental cause: American foreign policy in the Middle East. According to this view, terrorist organizations are essentially resistance fighters against American imperialism and arrogance, reacting to everything from America’s support of the Shah of Iran to its contemporary close ties with Israel.
For the strong silent type, Osama bin Laden has actually talked a lot. One expects this from his tediously didactic counselor, Ayman al-Zawahiri, but somehow not from the abstemious Emir himself. Yet in dozens of statements disseminated as letters, videos and audiotapes since at least 1994, bin Laden has expressed an evolving view of the world. This brew of rumination, analysis and exhortation has emanated from Sudan, Afghanistan and Pakistan, his three bases over the past decade or more. His audience has been twofold: Muslims whom he seeks to mobilize in a war against Western aggression as well as Western publics themselves. On occasion, as when he has proffered a truce to European governments, bin Laden speaks to both audiences at once. In that case, the message to his Muslim audience was that he was the equal of European prime ministers.
About a year ago, I discovered that I had acquired an entry in Wikipedia, the free online encyclopaedia.Wikipedia is a controversial project. It is used by billions of inquirers who want easy-to-get-at information on every conceivable and many inconceivable subjects. But its entries are not subject to peer review. This means that literally anyone can register online and insert or modify an entry.
A new book of never-before-translated documents and press statements by al-Qaida leaders offers new insight into the motives behind the group responsible for carrying out the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
Raymond Ibrahim, a technician at the Library of Congress, edited and translated into English statements by Osama bin Laden, Ayman al-Zawahiri and others dating from 1998 to 2006 for “The Al Qaeda Reader.” Ibrahim said the inspiration for the book came about in the course of shelving Arabic books, one of his duties at the Library.
This volume, a collection of essays and broadcasts by Ayman Zawahiri and Osama bin Laden, does the Al Qaeda leaders no favors. Whatever their capacities as terrorists, Dr. Zawahiri tends toward the wordy and Mr. bin Laden is inordinately proud of his military exploits. As he refights Tora Bora for the nth time deploying the salt cellar and the humidor, we might be in some soporiferous midtown gentlemen’s club.