Journey of the Jihadist: Inside Muslim Militancy

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9780151012138: Journey of the Jihadist: Inside Muslim Militancy

A civil war is being waged among jihadists for the soul of Islam. While all Islamist radicals may share a vision of a purified and unified ummah, or Muslim community, few agree over how to bring it about. Ultra-militant wings, such as Al Qaeda, dominate our thoughts and headlines, for they exported their brand of terrorism to America’s shores and now have carried it into the heart of Iraq. Yet they are in the minority. Most jihadists are struggling, often against great odds and under enormous pressures, to accommodate themselves to gradual social and political change in the Arab world.

As Middle Eastern scholar and media commentator Fawaz A. Gerges reveals in this unstinting, deeply personal, and brilliantly illuminating book, we need to know now more than ever who the jihadists are and to listen to what they are saying to each other and the world. Gerges went to Cairo, birthplace of modern Islamist radical thought, and began a dialogue with one of the movement’s founders. Using these conversations as a starting point, Gerges spoke with hundreds of other jihadists throughout the Arab world, tracing the evolution of extremist thought from the 1970s to the present—from the civil war in Lebanon, which Gerges and his family endured, to the war in Iraq that is giving Al Qaeda a new lease on life.

The jihadist journey has led through bloodshed and turmoil. It did not begin on September 11th and it will not end in Baghdad. This crucially important and timely book maps the direction jihadism will take in the months and years ahead by showing where—and with whom—it all started.

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Published in hardcover by Harcourt, 2006, 0-15-101213-X

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"For more than a decade, militant Islamists have confronted the United States and, yet, successive American administrations have failed to understand who―or what―their adversary is . . . Journey of the Jihadist is essential reading for anyone seeking to understand the world of militant Islam―a subject that has never seemed more relevant."―Mary Anne Weaver, author of Pakistan: In the Shadow of Jihad and Afghanistan


In this important work, now with a new afterword, renowned Middle Eastern expert Fawaz A. Gerges takes us into the mind-set of the jihadi―or holy warrior―that lies behind so many headlines yet remains nearly impenetrable to us. Using his firsthand knowledge of the "Arab street," he brings to life the stories of Kamal al-Said Habib, a founder of the Jihadist Movement, as well as dozens of other Islamic fundamentalists, as they struggle with the battle being waged for the soul of Islam―a battle that affects us all.
"Many of the shortcomings of the war on terrorism can be viewed as stemming from the failure to understand the motives and belief systems of jihadist Muslims . . . Fortunately, there are academics like Fawaz Gerges."―Village Voice

 
"The stories [Gerges] tells, sensitively and incisively, uncover complexities that belie the simplistic assumptions Western governments so often bring to their analysis and action."―Globe and Mail


"Fascinating and highly informative . . . One of the best, most useful, and most timely volumes for nonspecialist readers."―Library Journal (starred review)
FAWAZ A. GERGES holds the Christian A. Johnson Chair in Middle Eastern Studies at Sarah Lawrence College, and has taught at Harvard and Oxford. A regular commentator for ABC News and NPR’s Morning Edition, Gerges has appeared on The Charlie Rose Show and The Oprah Winfrey Show, as well as on CNN, BBC, and Al Jazeera. He lives in northern New Jersey.

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