CAC Commander's "Jihadism" / Militant Islam Reading List

General Culture (Impact of Cultural Values, Attitudes, and Beliefs)

Benjamin, Daniel, and Steven Simon. The Next Attack: The Failure of the War on Terror and a Strategy for Getting it Right. New York: Times Books, 2005.  CARL: 973.931 B468n 2005
The authors of the award-winning Age of Sacred Terror: Radical Islam's War Against America, do not mince words: America's foreign policy vis-à-vis the Muslim world is bankrupt and has "cleared the way for the next attack-and those that will come after." The authors also explore terror's philosophical roots, analyzing how salafism dominates jihadist beliefs, as well as how the Internet helps facilitate global dissemination of its tenets, strategies and tactics. The latter subject is among its major strengths. To counter this threat, they propose focusing on independent cell-based terrorist units like the group responsible for the 3/11 train bombers in Spain, not state sponsors, as the backbone of the movement; dispensing with reflexive use of military solutions; improving links with foreign intelligence and law enforcement agencies; and recognizing the limitations of democracy in solving developing nations' problems. This book focuses on strategic courses of action across the DIME instruments in the global war on terror.

Bergen, Peter L. Holy War,Inc.: Inside the Secret World of Osama bin Laden. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2002.  CARL: 953.805 B495h
This study was rushed into publication with final editing in the wake of 9/11, and thus lacks some editorial smoothness. It provides a balanced description of bin Laden's background; a concise summary of the organization of the al-Qaeda terrorist network as it developed in the Middle East, Europe, and America; and a brief narrative of terrorist events through 9/11/01. This is an important glimpse of bin Laden, al-Qaeda, and the associated Taliban of Afghanistan.

Esposito, John L. Unholy War: Terror in the Name of Islam. New York: Oxford University Press, 2002.  CARL: 297.272 E77u 2002
Esposito, the Director of the Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding at Georgetown University, methodically leads the reader through the complicated history of Islam, explaining the various conceptions of jihad, or holy war, ranging from internal movements for community reform to the modern explosive threat to all things external to Islam. This book's strength lies in Esposito's vast knowledge and his ability to render it in an understandable format for the non-specialist.

Fuller, Graham E. The Future of Political Islam. New York: Palgrave, 2003.  CARL: 320.55 F965f 2003
Fuller, former vice-chairman of the National Intelligence Council at the CIA, sets out to make sense of the dangerous, changing and complex relationships between the West and the world of Islam in this broad survey of Islamic political movements. Fuller’s prognosis -- of increased tensions between international Islam and the U.S.; a focus on revenge rather than growth; the potential obsolescence of more liberal Islamic political movements, among other predictions – is sobering. A valuable book for understanding the broader political Islam milieu from which radical Jihadism springs.

*Gerges, Fawaz A. The Far Enemy: Why Jihad Went Global. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press, 2005.  CARL: 297.72 G367f 2005
Gerges work on militant Islamist activism explains the direction taken by those jihadis who have set their sights on nothing less than a shift in the global balance of power. Using their writings and their extensive interviews, he brings immediacy to the story which shows their limitations, and also underlines the ferocity of their desire to eliminate those who stand against them. This book is an authoritative account of jihadist movements around the Middle East, demonstrating that these movements, far from monolithic, are rife with ideological and strategic debates.

Greenberg, Karen J, ed. Al Qaeda Now: Understanding Today’s Terrorists.New York, NY: Cambridge University Press, 2005.  CARL: 303.625 A316 2005
This book collects two dozen presentations from a seminal conference in late 2004 on counterterrorism. It constitutes a valuable synopsis of current knowledge on al Qaeda and its evolution and the policies in place to counter threats of future attacks. The articles contribute to understanding how al Qaeda has evolved from a movement to an ideology, what influence it has on Middle East stability, and what continued threat it is to the U.S., Europe, and the rest of the world.

Gunaratna, Rohan. Inside Al Qaeda: Global Network of Terror. New York: Berkley Books, 2003.  CARL: 303.625 G975ia 2003
This work examines the leadership, ideology, structure, strategies, and tactics of al Qaeda. The book is based on five years of research, including extensive interviews with its members; field research in al Qaeda-supported conflict zones; and monitoring al Qaeda infiltration of diaspora and migrant communities in North America and Europe. The book sheds light on its financial infrastructure, how it trains combat soldiers and vanguard fighters for multiple guerilla, terrorist, and semi-conventional campaigns.

*Hoffman, Bruce. Inside Terrorism. New York: Columbia University Press, 1999. (revised edition to be published in early 2006).  CARL has 1998 ed.: 303.625 H699i3
From Rand’s senior researcher in Terrorism, this book is a lean and information-filled analysis of terrorism, one that combines purposeful theoretical investigation with good use of history and empirical evidence. It summarizes all the significant facts about terrorism in the last decade. This book is scheduled to be issued in a new edition, incorporating much more information on militant Islamic terrorists, early in 2006.

*International Crisis Group. Understanding Islamism, Middle East/North African Report no. 37.Cairo; Brussels: International Crisis Group, 2005.  URL: registration required to view report)
This report serves as a highly informative and understandable primer on the movement and ideology of Islamism. It distinguishes between Shiite and Sunni Islamism, but concentrates on the latter, on which most Western emphasis is today placed, and about which most fears are held. Available in both PDF and Word format at the International Crisis Group website.

Kepel, Gilles. Jihad: The Trail of Political Islam.Cambridge, Mass: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2004.  CARL has 2002 ed.: 320.550917671 K38j
One of France’s leading specialists in modern Islam, Kepel presents an intense, detailed examination of the militant Islamist movement over the last quarter-century. He explains Islamism’s attractions, and outlines its severe shortcomings: a deeply authoritative context for the seemingly inexplicable events of the recent past.

Roy, Olivier. Globalized Islam: The Search for a New Ummah.New York: Columbia University Press, 2004.  CARL: 297.272 R888g 2004
Roy discusses the historical movement of Islam beyond its traditional borders and its unwitting westernization. He concludes that contemporary Islamic fundamentalism is a product and agent of globalization.

Sageman, Marc. Understanding Terror Networks.Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2004.  CARL: 303.625 S129u 2004 (1st Floor Reserves)
A psychiatrist and former CIA case officer, Sageman studies the biographies of 172 jihadist terrorists in this work. He focuses on why young men join jihadi groups.

Wiktorowicz, Quintan. Radical Islam Rising: Muslim Extremism in the West.Lanham, Md: Rowman & Littlefield, 2005.  CARL: 320.557 W663r 2005
This work examines Jihadist movements, emphasizing their influence on Muslims living in the West. He provides a case study of al-Muhajiroun, a transnational movement based in London.

Jihadist Philosophers and Leaders in Their Own Words

`Azzam, `Abd A. Join the Caravan. London: Azzam Publications, 2001.
URL: or 
Dr. Abdullah Yusuf Azzam (1941-89), a Palestinian also known as Shaik Azzam or the “Godfather of Jihad”, was a central figure in the global development of the militant Islamist movement. Among his students were Osama bin Laden and Zayman al-Zawahiri. In Join the Caravan Azzam calls on Muslims to rally in defense of Muslim victims of aggression, to restore Muslim lands from foreign domination, and to uphold the Muslim faith.

*Letter from Zawahiri to Al Zarqawi.(July 2005). Available at the Director of National Intelligence website.
This letter provides insight into the “state of AL Qaeda” from its chief strategist and spokesman, and demonstrates Zawahiri’s “unease” at some of the tactics employed by Zarqawi in his direction of al Qaeda’s “affiliate” in Iraq. This letter has provoked numerous analyses and commentary about its authenticity.

*Letter from Al Zarqawi to bin Laden. (February 2004). Available at State Department website.
In this letter, al Zarqawi outlines his worldview, operational concepts and tactics , describes his “enemies”, and solicits bin Laden’s support for his endeavors. It is a fascinating and disturbing view of how a violent and committed Jihadist describes his goals and mission.

Qutb, Sayyid. Milestones (or “Signposts”)Damascus, Syria: Dar al-Ilm, [199?]. (Originally Published in 1964; Numerous Editions Available).  CARL: 297.1 Q91m
Qutb’s book gives shape to the ideas and worldview that have mobilized and motivated millions of Muslims to strive to reintroduce Islamic practices in their lives and alter social and political institutions so that they reflect Islamic principles. Milestones was written to educate and motivate the potential vanguard of the Islamic movement—Muslims distressed with the growing distance between Islamic values, institutions and practices and the emerging postcolonial Muslim societies. Qutb challenges the “defensive” constitution of the duty of jihad and argues that jihad is a mandatory proactive activity—existing in various forms and stages, not necessarily violent—which seeks to establish Allah’s sovereignty on earth.

Zawahiri, Ayman A. Knights Under the Banner of the Prophet. (2001) (A review essay on this book is available online, from the January 2005 edition of Military ReviewURL:  )
Also called the “Al Qaeda Manifesto”, this book was written in 2001. It represents al Zawahiri’s philosophy and outlook on global jihad. It provides valuable insight into understanding bin Laden’s and al Zawahiri’s public statements since 9/11.

Additional Resources

Alexander, Yonah, and Michael S. Swetnam. Usama bin Laden's al-Qaida: Profile of a Terrorist Network.Ardsley, NY: Transnational Publishers, 2001.  CARL: 303.625 A379u
This book exposes much of al-Qaida's mystique and thereby places it in perspective as one of the many challenges facing the international community in the 21st Century.

Ali, Tariq. The Clash of Fundamentalisms: Crusades, Jihads and Modernity.London; New York: Verso, 2003.  CARL: 320.550917671 A398c 2003
This work provides an explanation for the rise of Islamic fundamentalism and new forms of Western colonialism. Ali argues that many of the values proclaimed by the Enlightenment retain their relevance, while portrayals of the American Empire as a new emancipatory project are misguided.

Blanchard, Christopher M., Library of Congress, and Congressional Research Service. Al Qaeda Statements and Evolving Ideology.Washington, D.C: Congressional Research Service, 200?.  
July 9, 2007     --    January 24, 2007    --    January 26, 2006    --    November 16, 2004
This report reviews al Qaeda’s use of public statements from the mid-1990s to the present and analyzes the evolving ideological and political content of those statements.

Bliss, James A., and Army War College (U.S.). Al Qaeda's Center of Gravity.Carlisle Barracks, Pa: U.S. Army War College, 2004.  
This paper postulates that Al Qaeda's center of gravity is Osama Bin Laden and his brand of Islamist extremism. His charisma vision wealth and leadership abilities are the reasons al Qaeda is an effective terrorist organization striking fear across the globe while winning admiration among many in the Muslim world.

Hoffman, Bruce, and Rand Corporation. Al Qaeda, Trends in Terrorism, and Future Potentialities: An assessment.Santa Monica, CA: RAND, 2003.  CARL: 303.625 A316h 2003   
This paper assesses current trends in terrorism and future potentialities. It examines first the presumed state of al Qaeda today with particular reference to its likely agenda in a post–Iraq war world. It then more broadly focuses on some key current terrorism trends in order to understand better both how terrorism is changing and what the implications of these changes are in terms of possible future attacks and patterns.

Huband, Mark. Warriors of the Prophet: The Struggle for Islam. Boulder, Colo: Westview Press, 1999.  CARL: 297.27 H875w
Warriors of the Prophet details the current crisis in Algeria; the disappointments of Arab nationalism and socialist experiments in Egypt; the social breakdown of Somalia in relation to the ideal of an Islamic way of life; the disaffected youth in the Islamic movements of Morocco, Egypt, and elsewhere; and the Islamic experiment and its relationship with the non-Islamic world as revealed in Sudan’s experience since 1989.

Jacquard, Roland. In the Name of Osama bin Laden: Global Terrorism & the bin Laden Brotherhood. Durham, N.C:  Duke University Press, 2002.  CARL: 953.8053092 B612j
Jacquard, a French terrorism expert, details Osama bin Laden's rise from his childhood in Saudi Arabia to turning into the world's largest terrorist menace. The author explains the global character of bin Laden's organization, elaborating the extent of his sphere of influence in Europe and Asia....

Jenkins, Brian M., and Rand Corporation. Countering al Qaeda: An Appreciation of the Situation and Suggestions for Strategy. Santa Monica, CA: RAND, 2002.  CARL: 363.320973 J52c 2002
URL:  or
This monograph reviews events since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and discusses the current state of al Qaeda and the kinds of actions that can be expected of it in the future. It describes the central elements that must be emphasized in the next, more-complex phase of the campaign.

Johnstone, Mark A., and Army War College (U.S.). A Proposed Grand Strategy for Defeating bin Laden and His al Qaeda Network. Carlisle Barracks, PA: U.S. Army War College, 2002. 
This paper examines Osama bin Laden, his al Qaeda network and the corresponding strategic context; examines the United States' goals and interests; and applies the concept of center of gravity to develop a grand strategy for their defeat.

Juergensmeyer, Mark. Terror in the Mind of God: The Global Rise of Religious Violence.Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000.  CARL: 291.178331 J93t 2001 
In this work, Juergensmeyer asks one of the most important and perplexing questions of our age: Why do religious people commit violent acts in the name of their god, taking the lives of innocent victims and terrorizing entire populations? This, the first comparative study of religious terrorism, explores incidents such as the World Trade Center explosion, Hamas suicide bombings, the Tokyo subway nerve gas attack, and the killing of abortion clinic doctors in the United States.

Kalic, Sean N. Combating a Modern Hydra: Al Qaeda and the Global War on Terrorism. Fort Leavenworth, Kan: Combat Studies Institute Press, 2005.  CARL: 363.320973 K14c 
This study examines modern transnational terrorism from the 1960s to the present day, with special emphasis on the adaptation Al Qaeda and other nonstate actors have taken in response to the actions of the United States and its allies. It provides a cautionary warning about the likelihood Al Qaeda will continue to survive and execute missions in the current operating environment. Kalic synthesizes much of the pertinent literature and offers insights into the actions taken to fight terrorists.

Katzman, Kenneth, Library of Congress, and Congressional Research Service. Al Qaeda Profile and Threat Assessment. Washington, D.C: Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress. 61391459. 
This report synthesizes expert opinion on the level and direction of the Al Qaeda threat.

Kepel, Gilles. The War for Muslim Minds: Islam and the West.Cambridge, Mass: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2005.   CARL: 297.272 K38w
Kepel examines the impact of global terrorism and the ensuing military operations to stem its tide. He questions the United States' ability to address the Middle East challenge with Cold War rhetoric, while revealing the fault lines in terrorist ideology and tactics. Finally, he proposes a way out of the Middle East quagmire that triangulates the interests of  Islamists, the West, and the Arab and Muslim ruling elites....

Kreckovsky, Melanie J. Training for Terror: A Case Study of al-qaida.Monterey, Calif; Springfield, Va: Naval Postgraduate School; Available from National Technical Information Service, 2002. 
A recently acquired translated copy of an Al-Qaida training manual is analyzed utilizing the Four Frameworks Model, which states that organizations can be better understood if they are studied from structural, human resources, symbolic, and political perspectives.

Morris, Michael F., and Army War College (U.S.). Al-qaeda as Insurgency.Carlisle Barracks, Pa: U.S. Army War College, 2005.
This project employs Michel Wieviorka's inversion theory to analyze al-Qaeda; the results of this methodology suggest that Osama bin Laden's organization represents an incipient insurgency rather than a new strain of terrorism. The study then compares al-Qaeda's strategy to that of doctrinal insurgent templates to determine the likelihood of the movement achieving its revolutionary objectives. Finally, policy prescriptions flowing from the preceding assessments are provided to refine the existing national strategy for the Global War on Terrorism.

Rabasa, Angel. The Muslim World After 9/11. Santa Monica, CA: RAND, 2004.  CARL: 327.73017671 M987 2004
URL:  or
Examines the dynamics that drive changes in the religio-political landscape of the Muslim world, the effects of 9/11, the global war on terrorism, and the war in Iraq. The authors present a typology of ideological tendencies; identify the factors that produce religious extremism and violence; assess key cleavages along sectarian, ethnic, regional, and national lines; and identify possible strategies and military options for the United States to pursue in this critical and volatile part of the world.

Richards, Alan, Army War College (U.S.), and Strategic Studies Institute. Socio-economic Roots of Radicalism?: Towards Explaining the Appeal of Islamic Radicals. Carlisle Barracks, PA: Strategic Studies Institute, U.S. Army War College, 2003.  CARL: 297.09 R514s 2003
The author addresses the critical questions involved in understanding and coping with the roots of Islamic radicalism. He provides particular attention to the links between radicalism and a series of crises associated with modernization in the Islamic World. The result is a thoughtful and probing study including policy recommendations for U.S. military and civilian decision makers that makes intelligible the complex subject of Islamic radicalism.

Stern, Jessica. Terror in the Name of God: Why Religious Militants Kill.New York: Ecco, 2003.  CARL: 303.625 S839t 2003
For four years, Jessica Stern interviewed extremist members of three religions around the world: Christians, Jews, and Muslims. Stern explains how terrorist organizations are formed. She depicts how moral fervor is transformed into sophisticated organizations that strive for money, power, and attention.

Thorleifson, Dane. Usama bin laden and al Qaeda's Operational Design.Newport, RI: Naval War College, 2003
The United States is in "a new kind of war" against a non state, transnational terrorist organization called al Qaeda. By analyzing this threat from an operational design perspective, the United States can identify both strengths and weaknesses of bin Laden's plan. By gaining this insight, the United States and her allies can develop ways to better defend themselves and improve on strategies which will deter, disrupt, and eventually destroy Usama bin Laden and al Qaeda.


*Indicates DC's recommendations for a "first read"

Call numbers for the books in the Combined Arms Research Library (CARL) are in bold print.