Translating Words, Interpreting Events



The Al Qaeda Reader

by Raymond Ibrahim
New York: Doubleday, 2007. 352 pp. $9.06, paperback
August 7, 2007


Tristan Abbey, The Stanford Review • Gary H. Johnson, Jr., American Thinker • Steven Simon, The Washington Post • Brandace Simmons, Roll Call • James Buchan, The New York Observer • Janet Levy, • Jonathan Schanzer, Middle East Quarterly • Rob Eshman, Jewish Journal • Geoffrey Alderman, The Jewish Chronicle (London) • Zack Beauchamp, The Brown Daily Herald • Bruce Thornton, Private Papers

“The Al Qaeda Reader is an essential text for those interested in understanding the Al-Qaeda phenomenon through Raymond Ibrahim’s elegant translations.”

– Peter Berger, author of Holy War, Inc and The Osama Bin Laden I Know

If Osama bin Laden is dead, his ideas and arguments—like al-Qaeda itself—live on and continue to resonate with like-minded Muslims.

Now, for the first time, The Al Qaeda Reader gathers together the essential documents of the movement’s founders: Osama bin Laden and Ayman Zawahiri—with a special emphasis on Zawahiri, now al-Qaeda’s undisputed leader.

This extraordinary collection of al-Qaeda’s core texts—including incendiary materials never before translated into English—lays bare the minds, motives, and ultimate goals of an enemy bent on total victory.

Divided into two sections—Theology and Propaganda—this is also the only book that exposes the doublespeak of al-Qaeda, which regularly says one thing to Muslims in its religious treatises (“We must hate and fight the West simply because Islam commands it”) and another in its propaganda directed at the West (“You Americans are the aggressor and we are merely fighting back in self-defense”).

Al-Qaeda’s chilling ideology calls for a relentless jihad against non-Muslim “infidels,” repudiates democracy in favor of Shari’a, stresses the importance of suicide-operations, and mocks the notion of “moderate” Islam.

Perhaps most disturbing is how al-Qaeda grounds its teachings in the core texts of Islam: the Koran and the words of the Prophet.

Westerners from across the political spectrum will be fascinated and enlightened by The Al Qaeda Reader.

RAYMOND IBRAHIM is a widely published author on radical Islam. He regularly talks to the media, lectures at universities, briefs governmental agencies, and has testified before Congress regarding the conceptual failures that dominate American discourse concerning Islam. He was educated at California State University, Fresno (B.A. and M.A. in history) and took graduate Arab studies at Georgetown University, Washington D.C., where he began his career as a reference assistant at the Library of Congress’ Near East Section. It was there that he discovered al-Qaeda’s never-before-translated Arabic documents which he translated into this book.

The Battle of Yarmuk

The Battle of Yarmuk

An Assessment of the Immediate Factors Behind the Islamic Conquests

by Raymond Ibrahim
May 2002

Few events have dramatically altered the course of world-history as have the dynamic Muslim conquests of the seventh century. Aside from the seizure of a large expanse of onetime Roman lands and the cultural Arabization of millions of people, great wars have been waged between Islam and the West–till the present. Yet ambiguity abounds as to how and why these conquests were first originally realized. This study seeks to ascertain the immediate factors behind the conquests in general by deconstructing the all-pivotal Battle of Yarmuk in particular. This paradigmatic battle is ideal for extrapolating the root cause(s) of the conquests; for it was primarily at Yarmuk that the Arabs suffered notable physical and practical disadvantages–and yet still emerged triumphant. Thus this engagement allows one to see well beyond the usual aspects of military history–the physical and practical–and better appreciate the more abstract factors that have fueled the events of world history.

Grounded in Arabic and Greek primary texts and originally written in 2002 as Raymond Ibrahim’s M.A. thesis under the direction of renowned military historian Victor Davis Hanson, The Battle of Yarmuk is especially notable for successfully fusing doctrine and history on the battlefields of Yarmuk.