Kepel Book Review

William Dalrymple reviews Gilles Kepel’s The War for Muslim Minds.

Reading Gilles Kepel’s important book, it is easy to see why al-Qaida should be so enthusiastic about Bush. Bin Laden has always been open about his aims: by unleashing a clash of civilisations between Islam and the “Zionist-Crusaders” of the west, he hopes to provoke an American backlash strong enough to radicalise the Muslim world, topple pro-western governments and so install a new Islamic caliphate.

Bush has fulfilled Bin Laden’s every hope. Through the invasion of secular Ba’athist Iraq, the abuses in Abu Ghraib, the mass-murders in Faluja, America, with Britain’s obedient assistance, has turned Iraq into a jihadist playground while alienating all moderate Muslim opinion. We may have failed to capture Bin Laden, but we have succeeded in liberating the extremists, radicalising the unaffiliated and making life more difficult than ever for our natural allies: ordinary, decent, moderate Muslims.

Essential reading.