In browsing the “World News Connection” database (aka the Open Source Center) late at night, as one does, I ran across an interesting item from December. Because I like to write about books, I’m sure you will forgive me posting somewhat stale news….
Last November, someone posted a comment and a twenty page paper to one of the jihadist forums. The comment was intended to revive an online “book club” that had fallen into dormancy. The poster offered several reasons why such a book club was a good thing. Among them (as summarized by the Open Source Center or OSC):
to “fulfill the vacuum of intellectual, ideological, analytic, original, and serious thinking left untreated by other sites and to draw writers, thinkers, researchers, and others to reengage in debating and finding solutions to important issues;”… [I’m reminded of my earlier post.]
to encourage “the nation’s youth to revive the long interpretations of religious references and the original and pure words of God’s book, thereby producing a rebellious Islamic generation raised on the Islamic values, supporting and participating in the global jihad while exposing the doctrine and ideology of world order;”…
to read more extensive and various books and “utilize the advantages of the intellectual and ideological western thinking and ideas, and also benefit from such realistic writers as Noam Chomsky, Robert Fisk, Samuel Huntington, and others;” [Bin Laden himself has previously recommended or comment favorably on all three of these authors.]
The poster then offers Norman Cigar’s book, Al-Qa’ida’s Doctrine for Insurgency: Abd al-Aziz al-Muqrin’s “A Practical Course for Guerrilla War” for the book club’s consideration. The OSC did not translate the twenty page analysis. However we are assured that it is by and large a faithful summary of Cigar’s book, the majority of which, in turn, is simply a translation of Abd al-Aziz al-Muqrin’s treatise. (Al-Muqrin, you will recall, is a one-time leader of Al Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula when it was a Saudi organization. He got himself offed in 2004. His work originally appeared in serialized form in one of the jihadist online magazines several years ago.) The poster concludes with a paragraph about al-Muqrin noting that he:
“grew up as a strict and devout young man from Najd, the central province of Saudi Arabia, and…served jihad well and rivaled with his intelligence the old and present gifted thinkers and plannersof military theories, and [his] book is taught at the most famous military academies and that of the strongest army on earth, the US Marines.”
Ooh-rah. Presumably the bit about the Marines and their military academies is a reference to the fact that Cigar taught (teaches?) at a part of the Marine Corps University at Quantico.
With regard to the Cigar book: The introduction is well worth reading, though I occasionally got the sense that Cigar was going a little too far into US-centric military thinking in his analysis. Al-Muqrin’s work, which forms the bulk of the volume, is going to be fairly old hat to anybody who has read even half-way seriously about guerrilla warfare. That said, it does offer a fairly comprehensive treatment of the issue, situating guerrilla warfare in a taxonomy of warfare and then burrowing all the way down to how to conduct ambushes against cars. It is also interesting that it was written by an Arab–they not being renowned for their contribution to guerrilla warfare theory–from a country, Saudi Arabia, that is quite unlike the leafy, wet places with which we often associated this form of war. Perhaps al-Muqrin’s time fighting in Bosnia–a place with a serious guerrilla street cred–got him into the topic. Who knows?
In any event, I’ll just close by saying that I find it fascinating how our writings and the jihadists’ writings bounce back and forth between us. I wonder if the jihadists will ever notice my book (well, the book I did with Jessica Huckabey and John Schindler, that is!) and if so what they’ll say. Hmmmm…Do I want them to notice my book??