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Decoding Al-Qaeda's StrategyThe Deep Battle Against America$
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Michael Ryan

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780231163842

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231163842.001.0001

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The Historical Roots of Al-Qaeda’s Ideology

The Historical Roots of Al-Qaeda’s Ideology

(p.17) One The Historical Roots of Al-Qaeda’s Ideology
Decoding Al-Qaeda's Strategy

Michael W. S. Ryan

Columbia University Press

This chapter presents a brief ideological background to al-Qaeda's version of global jihad and discusses the historical root of Salafism. More specifically, it focuses on several key concepts that Sayyid Qutb developed to support his call for violent revolutionary jihad in Egypt. Al-Qaeda is composed of a core leadership, a number of franchise organizations, and a number of independent actors. All are driven by the same ideology: a perception of the modern experience of Islam as victim, and a vision of return to former glories based on adherence to a pristine, if not primitive, form of Sunni Islam. Qutb, born in 1906 in a village near Asyut in Upper Egypt, was an Islamic theorist who was convicted of plotting the assassination of Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser. He founded the ideologies of jahiliyyah (barbarism or ignorance) and hakimiyyah (sovereignty), which later became building blocks in al-Qaeda's ideology.

Keywords:   al-Qaeda, Sayyid Qutb, jihad, Egypt, jahiliyyah, hakimiyyah

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