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Synopsis

Since September 11, Al Qaeda has been portrayed as an Islamist front united in armed struggle, or jihad, against the Christian West. However, as the historian and commentator Fawaz A. Gerges argues, the reality is rather different. In fact, Al Qaeda represents a minority within the jihadist movement, and its strategies have been criticized and opposed by religious nationalists among the jihadis, who prefer to concentrate on changing the Muslim world rather than taking the fight global. Based on primary field research, the author unravels the story of the jihadist movement and explores its philosophies, its structure, the rifts and tensions that split its ranks, and why some members, like Osama bin Laden and his deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri, favored international over local strategies in taking the war to the West. Gerges asks where the jihadist movement is going, and whether it can be transformed into a non-violent, socio-political force.

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