In this concise and fascinating book, Fawaz A. Gerges argues that Al-Qaeda has degenerated into a fractured, marginal body kept alive largely by the self-serving anti-terrorist bureaucracy it helped to spawn. In The Rise and Fall of Al-Qaeda, Gerges, a leading authority on Islamic extremism, argues that the West has become mired in a "terrorism narrative," stemming from the mistaken belief that it is in danger of a devastating attack by a crippled Al-Qaeda. To explain why Al-Qaeda is no longer a threat, he provides a briskly written history of the organization, showing its emergence from the disintegrating local jihadist movements of the mid-1990s--not the Afghan resistance of the 1980s, as many believe--in "a desperate effort to rescue a sinking ship by altering its course". During this period, Gerges interviewed many jihadis, gaining a first-hand view of the movement that Bin Laden tried to reshape by internationalizing it. He reveals that global jihad has attracted but a small minority within the Arab world and possesses no viable social and popular base. Furthermore, he shows that the attacks of September 11, 2001, were a major miscalculation--no "river" of fighters flooded from Arab countries to defend Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, as Bin Laden expected. Gerges concludes that the movement has splintered into feuding factions, neutralizing itself more effectively than a Predator drone. Forceful, incisive, and written with extensive inside knowledge, this book will alter the debate on global terrorism.