Global Jihadism: Theory and Practice

Terrorism and Political Violence July-August 2011

Jarret M. Brachman. Global Jihadism: Theory and Practice. London: Routledge, 2009. 212 pp., $41.95 paper. ISBN: 978-0-415-45242-7.

Brachman is a director of research in the Combating Terrorism Centre at the United States Military Academy at West Point. He knows this subject well.

He helpfully explains the core importance of the doctrine of Al-Wala wal-Bara. This, “loving and hating for the sake of Allah, is one of the most important doctrinal elements of jihadism . Jihadists argue that the “loyalty and disavowal “concept is rooted in the Islamic shahadah, or the declaration of faith that all Muslims state aloud … For jihadists, it refers to how Muslim should act with those who believe and state this shahadah: they are to be loved, embraced with loyalty. The other part of the expression, Al-Bara, literally means “disownment” or “disavowal”. In its Islamic context, it means to reject, renounce or shun all that displeases Allah … Those beyond the pale of Islam [according to the jihadists] therefore include Jews, Christians, Buddhists, Hindus, Confucianists, communists, fascists, secularists, atheists, anarchists and many others.” (p. 47).

This attitude was graphically illustrated on 29 May 2004 in the Al-Khobar compounds siege in Saudi Arabia which Brachman analyses in detail. The Al-Qaeda team over a number of hours went through the compound calmly and systematically, searching for and killing all non-Muslims, including Swedes, Filipinos, Hindu Indians, and an Italian, while sparing an American after a significant debate, because he was Muslim.

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