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Radical Islam’s failure

The tension between the pious middle class and the urban poor in Muslim states has been exploited by authoritarian governments

By Malise Ruthven   July 2002

The attacks of 11th September were the last gasps of a moribund Islamist movement. Terror is a sign of failure, deployed when political mobilisation has failed. This is the conclusion drawn by a masterly survey of the modern Islamist movements from Morocco to Indonesia, Jihad: The Trail of Political Islam (IB Tauris), by Gilles Kepel. The recurrent violence of the 1990s-the attacks on tourists in Egypt, the Taleban takeover in Afghanistan, the war in Chechnya, the violence in France, the attacks on US targets in Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Africa culminating in 11th September-is “a reflection of the movement’s weakness,…

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