You aren’t going to find a better recounting of the events leading up to September 11th than The Looming Tower, journalist Lawrence Wright’s meticulously reported account just published by Knopf.
Wright, who once taught at the American University in Cairo, has spent almost five years interviewing 600 principles — more than half of them Muslims — in pulling together his dramatic narrative. He carries the story all the way from the 1940s visit to America by Sayyid Qutb — the prissy Egyptian exchange student who became the spiritual father of the Muslim Brotherhood — to the frantic efforts of FBI antiterrorist John O’Neill trying to uncover the plot before being cashiered out of the Bureau and moving over to be head of security at the World Trade Center — where he perished three weeks later.
What emerges from The Looming Tower is that we are not facing a clash of civilizations so much as a conflict with an educated segment of a civilization that produces some very weird, sexually disoriented men. Poverty has nothing to do with it. It is stunning to meet the al Qaeda roster — one highly accomplished scholar after another with advanced degrees in chemistry, biology, medicine, engineering, a large percentage of them educated in the United States.
Ayam Al-Zawahiri, Osama bin Laden’s peer in organizing world jihad, is typical — a highly trained Egyptian doctor who was often providing sophisticated treatment to his hospital patients even as he plotted the overthrow of the Egyptian government. And of course there is bin Laden himself, the pampered child of Saudi Arabia’s biggest builder who often bankrolled the Saudi royal family the way the Rothschilds used to bankroll European governments.p>As Wright shrewdly observes: br> /p> blockquote>What the recruits tended to have in common — besides their urbanity, their cosmopolitan backgrounds, their education, their facility with languages, and their computer skills — was displacement. Most who joined the jihad did so in a country other than the one in which they were reared….Like Sayyid Qutb, they defined themselves as radical Muslims while living in the West…. Alone, alienated, and often far from his family, the exile turned to the mosque, where he found companionship and the consolation of religion. Islam provided the element of commonality. It was more than a faith — it was an identity.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?
H/T to National Review Online