Jihad in Saudi Arabia: Violence and Pan-Islamism since 1979
Cambridge Middle East Studies
Author: Thomas Hegghammer, Former Associate, Initiative on Religion in International Affairs/International Security Program, 2009–2010; Former Research Fellow, Initiative on Religion in International Affairs/International Security Program, 2008–2009
Saudi Arabia, homeland of Osama bin Laden and many 9/11 hijackers, is widely considered to be the heartland of radical Islamism. For decades, the conservative and oil-rich kingdom contributed recruits, ideologues and money to jihadi groups worldwide. Yet Islamism within Saudi Arabia itself remains poorly understood. Why has Saudi Arabia produced so many militants? Has the Saudi government supported violent groups? How strong is al-Qaida's foothold in the kingdom and does it threaten the regime? Why did Bin Laden not launch a campaign there until 2003? This book presents the first ever history of Saudi jihadism based on extensive fieldwork in the kingdom and primary sources in Arabic. It offers a powerful explanation for the rise of Islamist militancy in Saudi Arabia and sheds crucial new light on the history of the global jihadist movement.
"Mr Hegghammer's analysis of the rise and fall of Saudi jihadism reveals some fascinating details. Many Afghan-bound holy warriors were propelled not by animus against the West, but by the trickery of recruiters who promised that this was the road to liberating Jerusalem. Yet what stands out most are his persuasive insights. The spread of jihadist ideas in Saudi Arabia, it seems, owed as much to temporary local factors as to outside influences or, for that matter, to Islamic scripture. The state erred, for instance, with policing methods that switched abruptly from being so hard as to provoke anger to so soft as to dispel fear. Hair-splitting ideological rivalries between Islamists, meanwhile, led to a polarisation of the different camps and to a radicalisation of no more than a few men." — The Economist
Read The Economist's review of Jihad in Saudi Arabia: Violence and Pan-Islamism since 1979: http://www.economist.com/culture/displaystory.cfm?story_id=15767391
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Document Length: 304 pp.