Leaderless Jihad

  • by Marc Sageman
  • Narrated by Peter Ganim
  • 9 hrs and 50 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

In the post-September 11 world, Al Qaeda is no longer the central organizing force that aids or authorizes terrorist attacks or recruits terrorists. It is now more a source of inspiration for terrorist acts carried out by independent local groups that have branded themselves with the Al Qaeda name. Building on his previous groundbreaking work on the Al Qaeda network, forensic psychiatrist Marc Sageman has greatly expanded his research to explain how Islamic terrorism emerges and operates in the 21 century.In Leaderless Jihad, Sageman rejects the views that place responsibility for terrorism on society or a flawed, predisposed individual. Instead, he argues, the individual, outside influence, and group dynamics come together in a four-step process through which Muslim youth become radicalized. First, traumatic events either experienced personally or learned about indirectly spark moral outrage. Individuals interpret this outrage through a specific ideology, more felt and understood than based on doctrine. Usually in a chat room or other Internet-based venues, adherents share this moral outrage, which resonates with the personal experiences of others. The outrage is acted on by a group, either online or offline. Leaderless Jihad offers a ray of hope. Drawing on historical analogies, Sageman argues that the zeal of jihadism is self-terminating; eventually its followers will turn away from violence as a means of expressing their discontent. The book concludes with Sageman's recommendations for the application of his research to counterterrorism law enforcement efforts.


What the Critics Say

"It might be comforting to think that angry young Islamists are crazed psychopaths or sex-starved adolescents who have been brainwashed in malign madrassas. But Mr Sageman, a senior fellow at the Philadelphia-based Foreign Policy Research Institute, explodes each of these myths, and others besides, in an unsettling account of how Al Qaeda has evolved from the organisation headed by Osama bin Laden into an amorphous movement--a 'leaderless jihad.'" (The Economist)
"Leaderless Jihad discredits conventional wisdom about terrorists by eschewing anecdotes and conjecture in favor of hard data and statistics." (Aryn Baker, Time)
"Sageman's incisive observations based on carefully examined evidence, astute insights, and scholarship make Leaderless Jihad the gold standard in Al Qaeda studies." (Washington Times)
"[an] important, face-the-facts book . . . Sageman is deservedly one of the best-known academics working on terrorism." (The Spectator)


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Overall a misguided effort

A few useful points, however, the author does not understand Islam or the nature of war, for that matter. The recommended strategy is not practical and is failing daily in Europe. Judging a 1400 year struggle based on the few years is also rather weak. Two stars is a reach.
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- William

An interesting read, but skip chapter 5

I thought the book was quite interesting except for chapter 5 which was absurd stupidity. "Social welfare causes terrorism and Europeans are all racists unlike Americans who are tolerant and friendly"... Are you serious?!

Skip that chapter and you'll love this book.

As for the narrator, I don't like him personally, but that's just me.
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- Styff

Book Details

  • Release Date: 11-19-2008
  • Publisher: Audible Studios