Describe and Evaluate the political ideology of contemporary al-Qaeda.

Essay by TjopUniversity, Bachelor's September 2006

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1. Introduction

This 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 Qaeda

Al 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 (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 (2006a, Internet source). This transliteration ties in with the meaning of the word 'fundamentalism', which will be discussed at a...