|"Bin Laden and His Followers Adhere to an Austere, Stringent Form of Islam"|
An article from The New York Times (Oct. 7, 2001) outlining how the faith that drives Osama bin Laden and his followers is a particularly
austere and conservative brand of Islam known as Wahhabism, which was
instrumental in creating the Saudi monarchy, and, if sufficiently alienated,
could tear it down.
|"War Against Terror Tests Fragile Relations With U.S."
Another New York Times article (from Sept. 15, 2001) on how Saudi Arabia's track record in previous terrorism investigations has been one
of keeping its distance from the United States.
|"Saudi Friends, Saudi Foes"|
An article from the Oct. 8, 2001, issue of The Weekly Standard suggests
that to understand Saudi influence within the Muslim world today one must look
at Wahhabism, the fundamentalist strain of Islam that is "the state-sanctioned
doctrine" of Saudi Arabia, and argues that "powerful elements in Saudi society
have supported Osama bin Laden throughout his campaign of terror, just as they
support the Taliban."
A Sept. 27, 2001, commentary from The Economist argues that "the Saudi royal family has long exploited religion to bolster its standing." This in turn "has helped breed the very sort of religious extremism that inspired the terrorist attacks on America and is now threatening the kingdom's own stability." (Click
here for more coverage of
Saudi Arabia from The Economist.)
In this 1994 article from The New Yorker, authors Leslie and Andrew
Cockburn report on opposition within Saudi Arabia from groups critical of the
government and the Saudi royal family.
|"Saudi Arabia: Post-War Issues and U.S. Relations"|
This April 2001 issue brief for Congress, prepared by the Congressional
Research Service, is a timely and in-depth primer on U.S.-Saudi relations. In
addition to information on Saudi Arabia's positions regarding Iraq and the
Arab-Israeli conflict, the brief details recent U.S. arms shipments to Saudi
Arabia and the two countries' trade relationship.
|"Saudi Arabia: A Secret State of Suffering"|
Amnesty International's March 2000 report on the status of human rights in
Saudi Arabia. "Every day the most fundamental human rights of people living in
Saudi Arabia are violated, yet rarely is this fact publicized. The Saudi
Arabian government spares no effort to keep its appalling human rights record a
secret, and other governments have shown themselves more than willing to help
maintain the secrecy."
|"Saudi Arabia: One Hundred Years Later" (PDF)|
In April 1999, the Georgetown University Center for Contemporary Arab Studies
convened a conference on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the modern
Saudi Arabian state. In discussing Saudi Arabia's history, much is made of the
fact that it is the only country in the region that was able to reject direct
colonization and, thus, it "exists as a result of an indigenous process of
state building that yielded a unique form of government."
|"Saudi Arabia Enters the 21st Century"|
A new project of the Center for Strategic and International Studies in
Washington, D.C., examines the economic, political, and military trends
affecting the future of Saudi Arabia and the stability of the Persian Gulf
region. Of particular interest is a draft report on "Islam Extremism in Saudi Arabia and the Attack on Al Khobar" (PDF only).
"Islam didn't produce Mohamed Atta," writes Fouad Ajami in The New York Times Magazine (Oct. 7, 2001). "He was born of his country's struggle to reconcile modernity with tradition."
|"U.S. Has a Long Way to Go To Bring Around Egyptians"|
"Mahamoud Bahi Radwan, the principal, held court behind his battered wooden
desk at Mustafa Kamal Middle School on Monday, urging teachers seated on
plastic chairs in his cramped office to discuss Egypt joining the battle
against the forces who carried out what he called 'the slap.'" From The New York Times, Sept. 26, 2001.
|"It's That Warmth"|
In this June 2001 interview with Al-Ahram Weekly, the departing U.S.
ambassador to Egypt, Daniel Kurtzler, reflects on tensions in the U.S.-Egyptian
relationship, including differences regarding Iraq, the conflict between Israel
and the Palestinians, and the October 1999 EgyptAir crash.
|"Egypt: Stable, but for How Long?"|
This article from the Autumn 2000 issue of The Washington Quarterly
traces the history of the Egyptian government's historical reactions to surges
in political Islam, and questions the ability of Hosni Mubarak's autocratic
regime to withstand serious social and/or economic instability.
In this February 1999 interview with Atlantic Unbound, New Yorker
staff writer Mary Anne Weaver discusses her book A Portrait of Egypt: A
Journey Through the World of Militant Islam (Farrar, Straus & Giroux,
1998). "There is a growing concern," she says, "that if Egypt 'goes Islamic,'
so could much of the Arab world. Egypt is the most populous and the most
influential Arab state, and since the 1970s the Islamists there -- with growing
vigor, in growing numbers, with growing support -- have infiltrated the courts,
the universities, the schools, the arts. A number of preeminent Egyptian
thinkers and ideologues are quite convinced that an Islamic victory in Egypt is
|"Sadat and His Legacy: Egypt and the World, 1977-1997"|
This introduction by Jon B. Alterman offers historical background on the rise
of the slain Egyptian president. It describes Sadat's legacy as a series of
ongoing processes -- particularly Egypt's role in the Arab-Israeli peace
process in the aftermath of the 1978 Camp David accord.
|"Egypt: Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, 2000"|
This U.S. State Department report cites Egyptian human rights practices as
"improving," largely due to the decline of terrorist activity by Islamic
extremists. However, it calls the government's record in relation to freedom
of expression and treatment of detainees "poor." It writes that "the dominant
role of the President and the entrenched [National Democratic Party] control
the political scene to such an extent that citizens do not have a meaningful
ability to change their Government."
|"Egyptian Islamic Jihad"|
A profile of the radical Egyptian group Islamic Jihad from the International Policy Institute for Counter-Terrorism. It includes a history of the organization, news analyses, and a chronology of their attacks from 1988-2000.
A profile of the radical Egyptian group Al-Gama'a al-Islamiyyah (the Islamic Group) from the International Policy Institute for Counter-Terrorism. It includes a history of the organization, news analyses, and a chronology of their attacks from 1988-2000.
|"The Islamic State in Egypt is Approaching"|
In this 1997 interview with Nida'ul Islam magazine, Al-Gama'a
al-Islamiyyah representative Sheik Rifa'ey Ahmad Taha describes the
organization's aims of creating an Islamic state. He predicts that upon its
establishment, "eindeed, Israel will confront us at that time, and America will
besiege us, and the West will boycott us, in fact the entire world will attack
us as one."
|"U.S. Commission on National Security Report"|
Former Senators Gary Hart (D-Colo.) and Warren Rudman (R-N.H.) co-chaired the
U.S. Commission on National Security, whose mandate was to examine issues of
national security facing the U.S. in the 21st century. The final section of its
three-part report, delivered on Feb. 15, 2001, is punctuated by some 50
recommendations for strengthening the country's defense. One of those
recommendations calls for the establishment of a cabinet-level agency to
coordinate homeland defense, much like the one created by President George W.
Bush in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. (Click here
to download a PDF version of the
|"Countering the Changing Threat of International Terrorism"|
This is the 2000 report of the National Commission on Terrorism, which was set
up by Congress in the aftermath of the 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies in
Kenya and Tanzania. Recent commentators have called the report prescient; the
commission predicted that there would be a terrorist attack on the United
States on the scale of Pearl Harbor. It also noted that our multibillion-dollar
counterterrorism effort designed to thwart and warn against such an attack is
plagued by procedures that have made it difficult for the CIA to employ "the
services of clandestine informants" while the FBI "suffers from bureaucratic
and cultural obstacles in obtaining terrorism information."
|"Combating Terrorism: Issues in Managing Counterterrorist Programs" (PDF Only)|
In a statement before a subcommittee of the U.S. House Committee on
Transportation and Infrastructure in April 2000, Norman Rabkin, director of the
U.S. General Accounting Office's National Security and International Affairs
Division, says that much of the federal efforts to combat terrorism have been
"based upon vulnerabilities rather than an analysis of credible threats." He
summarizes the obstacles facing U.S. counterterrorism issues, including the
need for more cooperation between government entities at the state and federal
|"Navigating Through Turbulence: America and the Middle East in a New
Century" (PDF Only)|
This January 2001 report from the Washington Institute for Near East Policy --
by a bipartisan group of policymakers and experts including former CIA Director
R. James Woolsey, U.S. Senator Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn.), and other notables -- includes a section titled "Terrorism: Strengthen Response to New Threats." (Click here to download it in PDF.)
|"Terrorism and U.S. Policy"|
This April 2001 panel discussion hosted by the Brookings Institution featured
Paul R. Pillar, former deputy chief of the CIA's Counterterrorist Center and
author of Terrorism and U.S. Foreign Policy (Brookings, 2001). "In this
critical study, a career CIA officer provides a guide to constructing and
executing counterterrorist policy, urging that it be formulated as an integral
part of broader U.S. foreign policy." (Click here for an overview of Pillar's
book, and the full text of the first chapter, available on the Brookings site.)
Also on the panel were: Patrick L. Clawson, director for research at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy; John Parachini, executive director of the Center for Nonproliferation Studies' Washington Office; and R. James Woolsey, former director of Central Intelligence.
|"The CIA's Weakest Link"|
In this article from the July/August 2001 issue of The Washington
Monthly, Loch Johnson, professor of political science at the University of
Georgia, argues that "the nation's spy agencies are still relying on a
technological edge to keep the country abreast of looming international crises,
and are giving short shrift to the people who synthesize and interpret the
mounds of intelligence pouring in from around the globe."
|"The Counterterrorist Myth"|
Writing in The Atlantic Monthly for July/August 2001, Reuel Marc
Gerecht, a former official in the CIA's Directorate of Operations, argued that
the U.S. counterterrorism program in the Middle East and its environs is
|"The Intelligence Gap"|
Seymour M. Hersh, in the Dec. 6, 1999, issue of The New Yorker, takes a
critical look at the National Security Agency, which during the Cold War
"played a dominant role in American intelligence gathering behind the Iron
Curtain and elsewhere." As Hersh reports, "the decline of the N.S.A. is widely
known in Washington's national-security community."
|"Countering the New Terrorism"|
A 1999 RAND study "traces the recent evolution of international terrorism
against civilian and U.S. military targets, looks ahead to where terrorism is
going, and assesses how it might be contained."
|"The New Threat of Mass Destruction"|
Writing in the January/February 1998 issue of Foreign Affairs, Richard
K. Betts, director of national security studies at the Council on Foreign
Relations and professor of political science at Columbia University, offered "a
prescient discussion of the dangers of terrorist attacks on the U.S. homeland
and our failure to protect against them."
|"Can't Anybody Here Play This Game?"|
In the February 1998 Atlantic Monthly, four years after the CIA's discovery that one of its top agents,
Aldrich H. Ames, had been spying for the Soviet Union, "Edward Shirley," a
pseudonymous former officer for the CIA's Directorate of Operations, detailed
how and why the agency's shadow had been severely foreshortened in crucial
|"Think Again: Terrorism"|
In the Fall 1997 issue of Foreign Policy, former CIA director John
Deutch argued that "controlling terrorism will require new mechanisms of
cooperation -- both nationally and internationally -- between intelligence and
law enforcement agencies. Effective action must be simultaneously defensive and
offensive and inevitably requires some compromise of civil liberties."
|"Inside the Jihad"|
An interview with Ahmed Rashid, the Pakistani journalist and author of
Taliban: Militant Islam, Oil, and Fundamentalism in Central Asia. From
Atlantic Unbound, Aug. 10, 2000.
|"The Real bin Laden"|
A profile of Osama bin Laden by Mary Anne Weaver, from The New Yorker,
Jan. 24, 2000.
|"The Taliban: Exporting Extremism"|
"How radical Islam and repressive politics are gaining ground in one of the
world's most sensitive regions. As they consolidate their power over
Afghanistan, the Taliban are starting to destabilize the entire surrounding
area -- and beyond." An article by Ahmed Rashid from Foreign Affairs,
|"License to Kill"|
"A little-noticed declaration of jihad by Osama bin Laden in an Arabic
newspaper underscores the Islamist's main grievance: U.S. troops in Arabia." An
article by Bernard Lewis from Foreign Affairs, November/December
"The CIA poured billions into a jihad against Soviet-occupied Afghanistan,
creating a militant Islamist Abraham Lincoln Brigade believed to have been
involved in bombings from Islamabad to New York." An article by Mary Anne
Weaver from The Atlantic Monthly, May 1996.
|"The Clash of Civilizations?"|
Samuel P. Huntington's controversial article in the Summer
1993 issue of Foreign Affairs argued that "the fundamental source of
conflict in this new world will not be primarily ideological or primarily
economic. The great divisions among humankind and the dominating source of
conflict will be cultural. Nation states will remain the most powerful actors
in world affairs, but the principal conflicts of global politics will occur
between nations and groups of different civilizations. The clash of
civilizations will dominate global politics. The fault lines between
civilizations will be the battle lines of the future."
|"The Islamic Resurgence"|
In this excerpt from his book The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of
World Order (1996), Samuel P. Huntington looks at Islam's worldwide revival
-- how it is being fueled by culture and cultural identity, and why it's the
latest phase in the adjustment of Islam to the West and modernization.
|"The Roots of Muslim Rage"|
In this influential examination of the relationship between Islam and the West, published in the September 1990 issue of The Atlantic Monthly,
Bernard Lewis explores "why so many Muslims deeply resent the West, and why
their bitterness will not easily be mollified." He writes: "It should by now be
clear that we are facing a mood and a movement far transcending the level of
issues and policies and the governments that pursue them. This is no less than
a clash of civilizations -- the perhaps irrational but surely historic reaction
of an ancient rival against our Judeo-Christian heritage, our secular present,
and the worldwide expansion of both. It is crucially important that we on our
side should not be provoked into an equally historic but also equally
irrational reaction against that rival."
|"The Clash of Ignorance"|
Edward W. Said, writing in the Oct. 22, 2001, issue of The Nation, offers a scathing critique of the "clash of civilizations" thesis in the work of both Samuel Huntington and Bernard Lewis. "This is the problem with unedifying labels like Islam and the West: They mislead and confuse the mind, which is trying to make sense of a disorderly reality that won't be pigeonholed or strapped down as easily as all that.... These are tense times, but it is better to think in terms of powerful and powerless communities, the secular politics of reason and ignorance, and universal principles of justice and injustice, than to wander off in search of vast abstractions that may give momentary satisfaction but little self-knowledge or informed analysis."