The Audacious Ascetic: What Osama Bin Ladens Sound Archive Reveals About al-Qaida

Hardcover | October 21, 2015

byFlagg Miller

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In late 2002, over 1500 audiotapes were discovered in Kandahar, Afghanistan, in a house once occupied by Osama bin Laden. The Audacious Ascetic is the first book to explore this extraordinary archive. It details how Islamic cultural, legal, theological and linguistic vocabularies shapedmilitants' understandings of al-Qa'ida, and, more controversially, challenges the notion that the group's original adversary was America and the "far enemy". Miller argues that Western security agencies' "management" of Bin Laden's growing reputation went awry. When magnified through global mediacoverage, narratives of al-Qa'ida's coherence were exploited by Osama and his militant supporters for their own ends.Focusing on over a dozen previously unpublished speeches by Bin Laden as well as on discussions by top al-Qa'ida leaders and Arab- Afghans, Miller chronicles the Saudi radical's evolving relationship with a host of Muslim insurgencies that found his stripe of asceticism (zuhd) tactically useful,especially when circulated via audiotape. These recordings also reveal militants' disenchantment when Bin Laden, marginalized through the '90s, began pandering to Western television networks in his attempt to direct heterodox Islamist armed struggles against America. Such audio evidence exposesal-Qa'ida's lack of coordination before 9-11 and invites scrutiny of dominant narratives of Western law enforcement, intelligence and terrorism analysts.

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In late 2002, over 1500 audiotapes were discovered in Kandahar, Afghanistan, in a house once occupied by Osama bin Laden. The Audacious Ascetic is the first book to explore this extraordinary archive. It details how Islamic cultural, legal, theological and linguistic vocabularies shapedmilitants' understandings of al-Qa'ida, and, more ...

Flagg Miller is Professor of Religious Studies at the University of California, Davis. Trained as a linguistic anthropologist, his first book, The Moral Resonance of Arab Media: Audio-cassette Poetry and Culture in Yemen, examined how Yemenis have used traditional poetry and new media technologies to envision a productive relationship...

other books by Flagg Miller

Format:HardcoverDimensions:320 pages, 8.4 × 5.5 × 0.98 inPublished:October 21, 2015Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0190264365

ISBN - 13:9780190264369

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"With daunting thoroughness, Miller reviews bin Laden's biography, underscoring his adherence to the Islamic reform movement that supported insurgencies in authoritarian regimes within the Muslim world . . . bizarrely compelling." --Publishers Weekly