Thursday, September 21, 2006

Restricting Access to Jihadist Literature

American Libraries reports that an Australian library has restricted access to the works of jihadist ideologist Abdullah Azzam, due to possible legal consequences stemming from the Australian Anti-Terrorism Act of 2005.

American Libraries, in its headline, refers to the books in question as "alleged jihad books". There is nothing "alleged" about the status of Azzam's works in the pantheon of jihadist literature. Azzam was the leader of the foreign jihadists who fought the Soviets in Afghanistan in the 1980's, and the mentor of Osama bin Laden. Together with bin Laden, he founded the organization that eventually became al Qaeda. As Chris Suellentrop once put it, Azzam was the "Lenin of international jihad". Even today, 17 years after Azzam's death, his books remain highly influential in jihadist circles.

So, is restricting access to Azzam's books the proper course of action? No, frankly it's silly and counterproductive. For one thing, Azzam's works are readily available on the Internet. Even if you deny aspiring jihadists access to hard copies of his writings, they can still easily get to them online. More importantly, such restrictions get in the way of scholars, students, and members of the general public who want to learn more about the adversary we face. We should be making resources about the nature of Salafist-Jihadism easier to get to, not preventing people from using them. Just as anyone who wanted to understand the threat posed by the Third Reich needed to read Mein Kampf, so people in today's world need to examine the writings of Azzam, Qutb, Maududi and Faraj. Nothing makes the threat posed by jihadism clearer than to read the actual writings of its adherents.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Heretic, I'm going to dissent, even though you make a good argument.

I have not done a search, as i don't have the time, but I believe there are laws in the US which say it is NOT free speech to call others to committ imminent harm through violent action. I believe books such as this which call for the destruction of kaffir legal systems through violent Jihad, if they really are inciting people to violence, should be illegal. When/if I ever get time I'll look into these laws which the US and Britain have.

9:16 PM  

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