2007-01-26

Part 1 of “Al-Qaeda: Casting a Shadow of Terror”

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by Neil Godfrey

Not having time to do all the reviews I would like I have decided to do chapter reviews from selected books instead. Opting to start on Jason Burke’s Al-Qaeda chapter 1 because I was not happy with my superficial review of the whole book earlier. There is simply too much information of value in this that people ought to know and then challenge their political leaders over for the sake of some hope for sanity in the future….

Chapter 1 is titled, surprise surprise: What is Al-Qaeda?

Definition
Al-Qaeda comes from the Arabic root qaf-ayn-dal meaning a base (as in a camp or home), or a foundation (as in what is under a house), a pedestal supporting a column, a precept, a rule, a principle, a formula, a method, a pattern, a method. (p.7)

Islamic, British and American Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan
The word was used by the mid 1980’s by Islamic radicals who flocked from all over the Muslim world to Afghanistan to help the local resistance fight the Soviets. It was a common Arabic word that was used to refer simply to the respective bases from which the military units operated.

In 2002 Arabic language newspapers referred to the British and American base at Bagram (from which they were hunting the Taliban) as “al-Qaeda Bagram”.

The radical association
Abdullah Azzam, mentor of bin Laden, wrote in 1987 of the need for a radical Islamic vanguard (similar to Lenin’s revolutionary vanguard concept) to carry the heavy work and sacrifices required for ultimate victory of achieving a new society:

This vanguard constitutes the strong foundation (al qaeda al-sulbah) for the expected society. (p.8 )

Azzam’s words were similar to many other references to vanguards in other radical Islamic literature and they are all clearly talking about a tactic, a way of operating, not an organization.

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Neil Godfrey

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