French book seeks to decipher al-Qaeda texts

7th September 2005, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Sept 6 (AFP) - A new book just published in France seeks to cast light on the terrorist logic of al-Qaeda by turning to the original texts that have inspired many of the Islamist attacks of recent years.

PARIS, Sept 6 (AFP) - A new book just published in France seeks to cast light on the terrorist logic of al-Qaeda by turning to the original texts that have inspired many of the Islamist attacks of recent years.

In "Al-Qaeda in the text" a team of academics and specialists led by Professor Gilles Keppel sets out translations of speeches, letters and other tracts from the organisation's key leaders alongside explanatory notes.

"These are texts that researchers have been looking at for a number of years," said Keppel, one of France's best-known experts in the Islamic world.

"It seemed a good idea to put them together, translate them and give a commentary. When it comes to analysing the al-Qaeda phenomenon, we are over-dependent on the element of spectacle -- the attacks and their televisualised repercussions. People don't have access to the underlying ideology," said Keppel

"The public feels helpless faced with these repeated terrorist acts, whose logic seems beyond understanding. But there is a logic. And it is only by trying to enter it that we can understand how this shadowy group works," Keppel added.

The book is diuvided into sections under the names of different figureheads, including Osama bin Laden, his Egyptian number two Ayman al-Zawahiri and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi -- who is being hunted by the US in Iraq.

Also included is Abdallah Azzam -- a Palestinian religious leader killed in 1989, who the authors say "had a central place in the history of Islamic radicalism as a theoretician, inspirer and organiser of Arab participation in the Afghanistan war of the 1980s".

In one of Azzam's key texts, he wrote that the "Afghan jihad is an individual obligation for Muslims the world over", according to researcher Thomas Hegghammer.

In another tract, Azzam said that Christian monks "can be killed if they live among other people. If they live alone to carry out their devotions, they are not to be killed."

Extracts from Osama bin Laden include reminiscences of the beginnings of his experience in Afghanistan, some of his fatwas or religious pronouncements, and interviews given to CNN television in 1997 and to al-Jazeera the following year.

In "Message to the American people" in 2000, the al-Qaeda chief said that it was "while looking at towers destroyed in Lebanon (the Murr and Holiday Inn towers in Beirut) that the idea came to me to return the favour to the executioner and destroy the towers of America."

Al-Zawahiri, al-Qaeda's alleged chief ideologue, is quoted via extracts from his "Knights under the banner of the prophet", which was published first in an Arab newspaper in December 2001.

In it al-Zawahiri says, "One can always follow an American or a Jew in the street and then kill him with a revolver or a knife or an iron-bar."

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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