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Terrorism in the Middle East - Essay Example

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Gilles Kepel, "Jihad: The Trail of Political Islam". London: I. B. Tauris & Co. Ltd., 2002. (Originally published in French as "Jihad: Expansion et Declin de l'Islamisme", Editions Gallimard, 2000. Translated into English by Anthony F. Roberts.)
Gilles Kepel is one of the world's foremost experts on the current Middle East…
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Terrorism in the Middle East
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Download file to see previous pages The author has also held tenure as visiting professor at New York University and Columbia University.
In the author's own words, the " purpose of the book is to shed light on the second effect [of 9/11that of mobilizing the support of Muslims the world over through an example of victory won by violence], by placing these recent events in a historical perspective that covers the unfolding of the Islamic movement over the last twenty five years of the twentieth century" (page 2). The author expands on this theme by suggesting that the terrorist act of September 11, 2001 had at its core the primary aim of engendering solidarity amongst Muslims. It was presumed by the perpetrators, that an attack on the very symbols of US supremacy would surely invite military action resulting in unacceptable civilian casualties in the target country, [in this case Afghanistan], leading to a collective sense of outrage in the Muslim world. The perpetrators of the act hoped, that this would give impetus to the Jihad (Holy War) which was running out of steam.
The last quarter of the twentieth century saw the radicalization of Islam in the form of Islamic Political Movements. From the early 1970s, radical factions in various countries revolted against the incumbent regimes and, in some cases, seized power thereby upsetting the prevailing world order leading to regional instability. In the early days, the aim of Jihad was not to wage war against the West, but to establish a global Islamic state, with the Koran as its fountainhead (page 27). During those initial days of the Islamic Political Movement, religious ideology proved to be an excellent binding factor, bringing together people from all walks of life - from students to professionals, urban poor and well settled bourgeoisie under one banner (page 67). However, as Kepel points out, Islamic Fundamentalists do not subscribe to the concept of separation of religion (Church) and political power (State). It is these fundamentalist factions that are propagating Jihad with terrorism as its manifestation wherever Western nations have in the past dominated on account of their conventional superiority.

This trend according to the author has its roots in Afghanistan and the Sudan. After the initial success of Islamic radicals in Iran, Radical Islamic Movements failed to seize political power elsewhere. Even in Afghanistan (post the Soviet withdrawal) and in Sudan, Islamists could not consolidate their gains and the situation in both countries slipped into chaos and anarchy. This failure led to a split. The moderates wanted to develop new concepts of democracy in sync with Muslim ideology. The fundamentalists of the other hand, for whom the Koran itself was unquestionable, gravitated towards large-scale terrorist attacks across the world. What Kepels brings out is that contrary to popular belief, far from being a 'clash of civilizations' [as propounded by Huntington], the targeting of the West is only a tool being used by radical terrorist factions to gain political power over their fellow Muslims. This is a very unique and original hypothesis expounded by the author. In this context the author brings out that the "attack on ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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