Lymington Times – 11 April 2009
New Forest East MP and Shadow Defence Minister Julian Lewis has contributed and introductory essay to an authoritative new book on the terrorist doctrines of Al-Qaeda by Professor Norman Cigar. Dr Cigar was head of Strategic Studies at the US Marine Corps Command and Staff College – which is similar to the UK’s own Defence Academy at Shrivenham.
The volume contains a translation and in-depth analysis of the ‘Practical Course for Guerrilla War’ compiled by Al-Muqrin, the head of Al-Qaeda in Saudi Arabia who was killed in a gunfight there in June 2004. Dr Cigar believes that by making terrorist doctrine accessible to those involved in opposing it, whether in the military or society at large, he is offering a direct insight into the mind of our enemies.
In his foreword to the book, Dr Lewis assesses similarities with other extreme movements in the past. He regards Al-Qaeda as combining the worst elements of religious intolerance, communist infiltration methods and Nazi-style racialist bigotry. Nevertheless, he points out, Al-Qaeda understands one vital dimension of the conflict better than the West‘:
“That this is a battle of ideas – with doctrine underpinning the will to win. The inability to win militarily must be compensated for by the ability to defeat psychologically – to cause the mental collapse and capitulation of the enemy.”
Dr Lewis, who won an award from a leading British defence think-tank in 2007 for original work on counter-insurgency, said:
“I was pleased to be invited by Professor Cigar to introduce his analysis of the Al-Qaeda terrorism handbook; but it is chilling to get inside the mentality, to some extent, of so ruthless an operator as Al-Muqrin who originally wrote it. We do have to examine and analyse such vicious enemies in order to isolate and outwit them, and to reduce them to just a poisonous footnote in history .’
[Al-Qaida's Doctrine for Insurgency, Translated and analysed by Dr Norman Cigar, with a Foreword by Dr Julian Lewis, was published by Potomac Books in the USA in January 2009. It is available in the UK both from bookshops and internet-based booksellers (ISBN 978-1-59797-253-6 Paperback).]