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Fawaz Gerges “The Rise, and Fall of Al-Qaeda” Essay (Book Review)

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Updated: Nov 28th, 2018

Al-Qaeda is one of the most feared terrorist groups in the world. Al-Qaeda traces its origin to the Middle East. People often associate Al-Qaeda with extreme Islamism. This article reviews a book by Fawaz Gerges, “The Rise, and Fall of Al-Qaeda”. The book reflects on issues surrounding the Al-Qaeda. Fawaz uses his mastery and expertise to write a compelling and broad analysis of this terrorist group.

Fawaz gives a detailed account of the origin, functioning, and decline of Al-Qaeda. He starts by explaining the origin of Al-Qaeda. According to him, this terrorist group came into existence in the early 1990s. He continues to document that Al-Qaeda officially united in 1998 after Bin Laden returned to Afghanistan from Sudan.

Fawaz portrays Al-Qaeda as a less dangerous group compared to claims of the West. He writes that the group is losing power. He attributes the overrating of this group by Americans to the entrenched interests of the US. Further, Gerges points out that interests of the west coupled with fear lead to the exaggeration of issues concerning Al-Qaeda. In addition, Gerges highlights the consequences, and implications of this exaggeration. Further, he documents that this exaggeration amplifies the problem.

Gerges argues that the United States has continually interfered with the group. He explains that by sending troops to Saudi Arabia after the Gulf war, the US provoked the Al-Qaeda. Americans after successful scattering the Al-Qaeda and the Taliban did not leave Afghanistan but rather focused attention towards economic resources of the country, and the Middle East as a whole.

He goes on to show how the US in their bid to remove dictators in Mesopotamia gave Al-Qaeda a chance to expand because the US removed of a section of leaders who hated this group. However, the Al-Qaeda started discording the Arabs instead of uniting them. This resulted to Al-Qaeda losing fame among the Arabs for orchestrating violence against Muslims.

Fawaz continues to explain the factors that contributed to Al-Qaeda’s loss of power. In his book, Fawaz explains that the group fell after the 9/11 attacks in the US. Osama failed to listen to warnings issued by the Taliban. In return theTaliban refused to support him.

The Taliban asked Bin Laden to concentrate on eliminating the enemies within Afghanistan borders instead of going after the US. Osama ignored this and continued with the planned attack. Osama’s hope of gaining support from the public did not actualize. Consequently, Bin Laden’s miscalculation and overconfidence saw him fall.

The author continues to write that the group has not risen again. He says that there is a slim chance that Al-Qaeda will revive itself. Moreover, Al-Qaeda cannot get support from either the public in Middle East or the Taliban. According to him, the Taliban is still struggling to recover control over Afghanistan after losing it to Al-Qaeda. Obviously, it is unlikely that the Taliban will allow any other terrorist group to overpower them.

Fawaz ends his book by commenting on the disjuncture between reality and exaggeration of functioning and decline of Al-Qaeda. He points out that fear and continued inclination of counter terrorism have enslaved American elites and the public. He documents that amplifying small pieces of evidence exaggerates the position of Al-Qaeda.

Further, he acknowledges that the famous decline of the group has not eliminated the existing perception of impending threat. Fawaz suggests that Americans should stop using the approach they have been using in the Middle East. He advocates for Americans to use liberal democratic approaches when handling Middle East. Further, he acknowledges that Americans can help in transforming the Middle East.

The most important dimension of this book is its ability to educate readers. Fawaz informs the reader about the origin and decline of the Al-Qaeda. His book is effective in the way that it explains the operations and structure of this terrorist group. Readers learn about the threats posed by the Al-Qaeda, and the steps taken to counter these threats.

Fawaz questions anti-terror policies and the efforts put in place to counter this group in an informed manner. He bases his assertions on concrete data. These systematic approaches allow readers to evaluate the magnitude of the threats posed by Al-Qaeda and the attention focused on these threats.

This book provides a detailed and expansive analysis. The content is relevant and the depth is considerable. The Author addresses development and decline of Al-Qaeda analytically. He conducts several interviews and uses his expertise to base his findings on strengths and weaknesses of the group.

Extensive research is evident in this book. The author uses real life illustrations, and provides evidence to support his arguments. Therefore, his book changes misconceptions of citizens, and the rest of the world threats posed by Al-Qaeda. Additionally, this book is rational. The author acknowledges the current threats and the likelihood of future threats. Further, he suggests possible solutions essential in handling the threats. This allows the readers to analyze the issue and draw conclusions based on their understanding.

Additionally, this book is interesting and enjoyable. The author provides a fascinating account by documenting issues surrounding the Al-Qaeda. He chronologically organizes his ideas and leaves room for criticism. The author successfully manages to capture the attention of the readers.

However, this book has its flaws. The main weakness of this book is Gerges’ attitude to the entire issue. Clearly, he underestimates the threats posed by the Al-Qaeda. Further, he accuses the American government and media of exaggerating this issue. His analysis shows that the group has disoriented and declined. However, readers cannot be sure of this fact. This is because the book conflicts with various reports and findings that other sources provide. Therefore, questions arise on the credibility of these arguments.

Another flaw of this book is Gerges’ limited View on the Al-Qaeda. Fawaz refuses to acknowledge the fact that this terror group has systems that are elaborate, organized, intelligently structured, and controlled for it to function. For instance, we cannot say that Al-Qaeda haphazardly carried out 9/11 attacks. In his book, Fawaz admits that the group is ambitious. However, he denies the fact that it enjoys funding, organized command, control, and training. This shows the writer’s bias on this issue.

In conclusion, this book serves its purpose well. It educates the readers on issues surrounding Al-Qaeda. In addition, it challenges the readers to understand and acknowledge the fact that Al-Qaeda is a security mutant group that does not represent overall Islamist opinion. The author uses elaborate examples, interviews, and evidence to support his work. Further, Gerges’ understanding of Islam helps him tackle this issue with ease. Overall, this book effectively educates readers.

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"Fawaz Gerges “The Rise, and Fall of Al-Qaeda"." IvyPanda, 28 Nov. 2018, ivypanda.com/essays/al-qaeda/.

1. IvyPanda. "Fawaz Gerges “The Rise, and Fall of Al-Qaeda"." November 28, 2018. https://ivypanda.com/essays/al-qaeda/.


IvyPanda. "Fawaz Gerges “The Rise, and Fall of Al-Qaeda"." November 28, 2018. https://ivypanda.com/essays/al-qaeda/.


IvyPanda. 2018. "Fawaz Gerges “The Rise, and Fall of Al-Qaeda"." November 28, 2018. https://ivypanda.com/essays/al-qaeda/.


IvyPanda. (2018) 'Fawaz Gerges “The Rise, and Fall of Al-Qaeda"'. 28 November.

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