The Rise and Fall of Al-Qaeda

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  • Author(s): Gerges, Fawaz A.
  • Publication Information:
    Oxford : Oxford University Press. 2011
  • Additional Information
    • Publication Type:
    • Abstract:
      In this concise and fascinating book, Fawaz A. Gerges argues that Al-Qaeda has degenerated into a fractured, marginal body kept alive largely by the self-serving anti-terrorist bureaucracy it helped to spawn. In The Rise and Fall of Al-Qaeda, Gerges, a public intellectual known widely for his expertise on radical ideologies, including jihadism, argues that the Western powers have become mired in a'terrorism narrative,'stemming from the mistaken belief that America is in danger of a devastating attack by a crippled al-Qaeda. To explain why al-Qaeda is no longer a threat, he provides a briskly written history of the organization, showing its emergence from the disintegrating local jihadist movements of the mid-1990s-not just the Afghan resistance of the 1980s, as many believe-in'a desperate effort to rescue a sinking ship by altering its course.'During this period, Gerges interviewed many jihadis, gaining a first-hand view of the movement that bin Laden tried to reshape by internationalizing it. Gerges reveals that transnational jihad has attracted but a small minority within the Arab world and possesses no viable social and popular base. Furthermore, he shows that the attacks of September 11, 2001, were a major miscalculation--no'river'of fighters flooded from Arab countries to defend al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, as bin Laden expected. The democratic revolutions that swept the Middle East in early 2011 show that al-Qaeda today is a non-entity which exercises no influence over Arabs'political life. Gerges shows that there is a link between the new phenomenon of homegrown extremism in Western societies and the war on terror, particularly in Afghanistan-Pakistan, and that homegrown terror exposes the structural weakness, not strength, of bin Laden's al-Qaeda. Gerges concludes that the movement has splintered into feuding factions, neutralizing itself more effectively than any Predator drone. Forceful, incisive, and written with extensive inside knowledge, this book will alter the debate on global terrorism.
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    • Related ISBNs:
      9780199790654. 9780199974689. 9780199790746. 9780199911714.
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      Print/Save 100 pages
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  • Citations
    • ABNT:
      GERGES, F. A. The Rise and Fall of Al-Qaeda. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011. ISBN 9780199790654. Disponível em: Acesso em: 30 mar. 2020.
    • AMA:
      Gerges FA. The Rise and Fall of Al-Qaeda. Oxford: Oxford University Press; 2011. Accessed March 30, 2020.
    • APA:
      Gerges, F. A. (2011). The Rise and Fall of Al-Qaeda. Oxford University Press.
    • Chicago/Turabian: Author-Date:
      Gerges, Fawaz A. 2011. The Rise and Fall of Al-Qaeda. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    • Harvard:
      Gerges, F. A. (2011) The Rise and Fall of Al-Qaeda. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Available at: (Accessed: 30 March 2020).
    • Harvard: Australian:
      Gerges, FA 2011, The Rise and Fall of Al-Qaeda, Oxford University Press, Oxford, viewed 30 March 2020, .
    • MLA:
      Gerges, Fawaz A. The Rise and Fall of Al-Qaeda. Oxford University Press, 2011. EBSCOhost,
    • Chicago/Turabian: Humanities:
      Gerges, Fawaz A. The Rise and Fall of Al-Qaeda. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011.
    • Vancouver/ICMJE:
      Gerges FA. The Rise and Fall of Al-Qaeda [Internet]. Oxford: Oxford University Press; 2011 [cited 2020 Mar 30]. Available from:


LJ Reviews 2011 September #1

Gerges (director, Middle East Ctr., London Sch. of Economics; Journey of the Jihadist) argues that the U.S. military and foreign policy establishment are entangled within a "terrorism narrative" sustained by an inflated, distorted view of al-Qaeda's operational capabilities and global reach, which he contends were drastically degraded even before Osama bin Laden's death. The peaceful character of some recent revolutions in the Arab world appear to add weight to Gerges's primary assertion, one of the major strands of this work, that al-Qaeda has long since lost any significant support or legitimacy, in part because of the indiscriminate slaughter of Muslims instigated by al-Qaeda operatives in Iraq, and that their ideology and tactics have been resoundingly rejected by large segments of the Arab populace. Gerges also focuses on al-Qaeda's role in the increasing instability in Yemen and its influence on "homegrown" radicals in America. VERDICT A cogent examination of al-Qaeda's historical trajectory that integrates major recent developments into its comprehensive analysis. This work will appeal to readers with an advanced grasp of Middle Eastern history and counterterrorism studies. It is not for general readers, although they may have seen Gerges speak accessibly as an expert on cable news.—Dennis J. Seese, American Univ. Lib., Washington, DC

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