Describe And Evaluate The Political Ideology Of Contemporary Al Qaeda.

3299 words - 13 pages

1. IntroductionThis essay aims to describe and evaluate the political ideology of contemporary al Qaeda. This will be achieved by providing a history of al Qaeda, as well as a brief explanation of the organizational structure of the group. There will be reference made to the goals and objectives of al Qaeda, and the names and positions of key figures within the group. The essay will then explain the concept of 'ideology' by providing a concise definition, and then will discuss the political ideology to which al Qaeda subscribes, namely Religious Fundamentalism. In order to explain Religious Fundamentalism, the concept of 'fundamentalism' must be defined, and then the sub-ideologies of Religious Fundamentalism with which al Qaeda is connected can be discussed, with the different elements of each explained. The essay will then conclude with an evaluation of al Qaeda's choice of political ideology.2. Al QaedaAl Qaeda is best known for the attacks on the World Trade Centre towers and the Pentagon on September 11, 2001. According to Ross (2004, Internet source), members of al Qaeda who carried out the attacks believed that these acts formed part of a 'holy war' or 'jihad', which would allow them to destroy the 'infidels' and become 'martyrs'.Al Qaeda, although almost certainly involved with these attacks, has a deeper history, which will be explained by asking several key questions.2.1. What is al Qaeda?According to Answers.com (2006a, Internet source), al Qaeda is a 'broad-based Islamic militant organisation' which was founded by Osama bin Laden between 1988 and 1989 (FRONTLINE, 2006, Internet source).The name al Qaeda can be transliterated to mean "the foundation" or "the base", as stated by Answers.com (2006a, Internet source). This transliteration ties in with the meaning of the word 'fundamentalism', which will be discussed at a later stage. The organisation was established to unite the Arabs who fought against the Soviet invasion in Afghanistan (Kegley & Wittkopf, 2004:435).At the onset of the organisation, the United States was the main supplier of arms and finances to the group (Kegley & Wittkopf, 2004:435), as, according to Answers.com (2006a, Internet source), the United States looked upon the Soviet/Afghan conflict as 'integral Cold War struggle'.2.1.1 What are the goals of al Qaeda?The main goal of the organisation, according to the Council on Foreign Relations (2005, Internet source) is to expel what it sees as 'the profane influence of the West' from Muslim countries, and to 'replace their governments with fundamentalist Islamic regimes'.According to Kegley and Wittkopf (2004:435) al Qaeda issued a statement in February of 1988, under the banner of 'The World Islamic Front for Jihad against the Jews and Crusaders', saying that it was the duty of all Muslims to kill U.S. citizens (both civilian and military) and their allies everywhere.According to Globalsecurity (2006b, Internet source) a brief statement of 'Goals and Objectives...

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