Our pal Raymond Ibrahim reviews Al Qaeda in Its Own Words, edited by Gilles Kepel and Jean-Pierre Milelli, over at the Middle East Quarterly:
Al Qaeda in Its Own Words provides the translated writings of four jihadis–Abdullah Azzam, Osama bin Laden, Ayman Zawahiri, and Abu Musab Zarqawi. Edited by five people with Kepel, a French sociologist of Islam, as lead editor, it contains a wealth of data that, unfortunately, is presented in a rather confused manner.
The actual words of Al-Qaeda are rarely analyzed or placed in context. Obvious contradictions–such as Al-Qaeda’s constant protestations to Americans that its war on them is a response to and derives from U.S. foreign policy while telling Muslims that the jihad must persevere until the globe is governed according to Islamic law–are ignored.
Where objective analysis is wanting, apologetics and hackneyed psychoanalyses predominate: Thus, the “neocons” are akin to Al-Qaeda since “the dual undertakings of 9/11 and the American attack on Iraq … mirrored each other”; bin Laden–that “nervous, flaccid, eternal adolescent”–opted for a life of jihad due to his “devouring” need for “recognition”; whereas Islamists such as Sayyid Qutb and Ayman al-Zawahiri chose jihad due to the “trauma” and “humiliation” they underwent in Egyptian prisons….