Translating Words, Interpreting Events

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Mideast Nuclear Holocaust

What would an Iranian-Israeli nuclear exchange be like?…

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Persecution Myth? How the Present Explains the Past

Christianity has a long history of “annoying” its supremacist overlords…

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The Closing of the Muslim Mind

Jihad Watch October 20, 2011 Note: Raymond Ibrahim reviews Robert Reilly’s book, The Closing of the Muslim Mind How Intellectual Suicide Created the Modern Islamist Crisis Last week, “Saudi Arabia’s religious police arrested an Indonesian housemaid for casting a magic spell on a local family and ‘turning its life upside down.’” The maid “confessed” to using sorcery, and [...]

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St. Francis of Assisi, Fr. Zakaria Botros, and Islam

Polish While not formally connected, two books I recently finished reading – St. Francis of Assisi and the Conversion of Muslims and Defying Death: Zakaria Botross, Apostle to Islam – complement each other very well, specifically by establishing continuity between medieval and modern Islam, and, in so doing, demonstrating that Islamic intolerance has a long pedigree. For instance, after [...]

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Jonathan Schanzer, Middle East Quarterly

Ibrahim, an Arabic language specialist at the Library of Congress at the time he wrote The Al Qaeda Reader, has compiled a collection of screeds by Al-Qaeda’s top figures, Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri, that reveal in full the deranged world-view that drives the global Islamist terrorist network.

Ibrahim’s translations are an important contribution to the field. Rather than serve as a middleman, as most analysts do, Ibrahim allows Al-Qaeda to articulate for itself the anti-Semitism, xenophobia, paranoia, anti-modernism, and anarchism that drive its terrorist agenda against the United States and America’s “infidel” allies.

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Tristan Abbey, The Stanford Review

“Stop hurting us and we’ll stop hurting you.” That is the message Americans get from al Qaeda. In his fascinating new book, historian Raymond Ibrahim explains that the jihadists say one thing to CNN, and quite another to fellow Muslims.

I had the opportunity to interview Ibrahim last summer at the Library of Congress, where he is a researcher in the Near East section of the African and Middle Eastern division. Ibrahim summarized Osama’s message to Muslims: “Irrespective of what the West does and does not do, they are always the enemy for no other reason than that they won’t accept Islam.”

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Gary H. Johnson, Jr., American Thinker

Recently, Raymond Ibrahim edited and translated into English a decade’s worth of public releases by al Qaeda’s leadership. Published by Broadway Books, with partial proceeds donated to the Committee to Protect Journalists, Ibrahim’s The Al Qaeda Reader is not only a timely fountainhead for the United States citizenry’s understanding of our Jihadi enemies, it is also a necessary release for all Muslims living under secular governments to grapple with in the coming years.

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Rob Eshman, Jewish Journal

The most important magazine article you’ve never read this year appeared Sep. 21 in The Chronicle Review, a publication of The Chronicle of Higher Education.

It’s about a librarian. Really.

The author, Raymond Ibrahim, describes how it is he came to translate the internal communiques and theological statements of the leaders of al-Qaeda, and what those leaders really say. Here’s a hint: It’s not what Israel’s new batch of best-selling critics say they say.

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Zack Beauchamp, The Brown Daily Herald

There’s a tendency among many who, like me, identify on the left side of the political spectrum to treat terrorism as an issue with one fundamental cause: American foreign policy in the Middle East. According to this view, terrorist organizations are essentially resistance fighters against American imperialism and arrogance, reacting to everything from America’s support of the Shah of Iran to its contemporary close ties with Israel.

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Steven Simon, The Washington Post

For the strong silent type, Osama bin Laden has actually talked a lot. One expects this from his tediously didactic counselor, Ayman al-Zawahiri, but somehow not from the abstemious Emir himself. Yet in dozens of statements disseminated as letters, videos and audiotapes since at least 1994, bin Laden has expressed an evolving view of the world. This brew of rumination, analysis and exhortation has emanated from Sudan, Afghanistan and Pakistan, his three bases over the past decade or more. His audience has been twofold: Muslims whom he seeks to mobilize in a war against Western aggression as well as Western publics themselves. On occasion, as when he has proffered a truce to European governments, bin Laden speaks to both audiences at once. In that case, the message to his Muslim audience was that he was the equal of European prime ministers.

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