See? There’s no jihad. It’s just a group of friends. Nothing to be concerned about.
Is Hegghammer’s actual study as full of logical leaps and unwarranted assumptions as this news article about it? I don’t know, as it doesn’t appear to be online at Middle East Policy (although an unhelpful abstract is there), but from the looks of what is here I don’t have high hopes.
From the World Tribune, with thanks to all who sent this in:
WASHINGTON “” Al Qaida has recruited operatives mostly through family and friends rather than through Muslim groups, a study found.
Saying that they recruited “through family and friends rather than through Muslim groups” doesn’t establish how they recruited, but only where they recruited. It does nothing to establish that they didn’t appeal to the purity of their Islam and their responsibilities as Muslims, as we have seen them do again and again.
The report said Al Qaida operatives in Saudi Arabia were largely recruited through social networks rather than the mosque or Islamic institutions. Authored by Thomas Hegghammer and published in Middle East Policy, the study said most of the recruits did not express anti-American sentiments before they underwent training in Al Qaida camps in Afghanistan.
Was this the only indicator of radicalism that Hegghammer examined? Did he study their mosque attendance or other signs of being devout, whatever the location of their recruitment may have been?
“My analysis was based on a collection of 240 biographies, compiled from Arabic primary sources and extensive fieldwork in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” Hegghammer said. “So I feel that this work provides a fairly accurate picture of these militants.”
What would establish the accuracy or inaccuracy of Hegghammer’s picture would not be how many biographies he analyzed, but some information on how exactly he analyzed them.
The study disputed the image of Al Qaida as an insurgency group sustained by religious Muslims. Hegghammer said most of the Saudi recruits had no intention of fighting the United States or other Western states.
The second sentence here does nothing to establish or illustrate the truth of the first. The location of recruitment does not outweigh the consistently religious foundation of Al-Qaeda’s appeal.
“The most common motivations for going to Afghanistan were: a desire to fight in Chechnya; a desire to defend the Taliban from the Northern Alliance; and adventurism,” the report said. “Anti-American sentiments were only developed after their time with Bin Laden’s cohorts.”
So a desire to fight in Chechnya and defend the Taliban doesn’t stem from religious motives? And on what is this conclusion based?