The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11

by Lawrence Wright
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What is Wright's view of jihadism in The Looming Tower?

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Wright's view of jihadism is that it grows when governments fail to develop an effective course of action to combat it.

Wright argues that jihadism is aided because of feeble political responses. Jihadism is a significant threat throughout The Looming Tower.  However, governments are shown to lack the understanding or will to effectively combat it.  Wright views jihadism as a response against the Status Quo that grows stronger when it is dismissed.

Wright gives examples of how poor political responses have enabled jihadism. For example, the Saudi government understood the significant threat of jihadists like bin Laden.  Yet, it was unable to formulate an effective response.  They reverted to autocratic measures such as suspending bin Laden's citizenship without really doing much else.  They failed to understand the roots of jihadism.  When bin Laden took refuge in Sudan, Wright talks about how the Sudanese government similarly wanted to be rid of him.  At the same time, Wright displays an America that was unwilling or unable to fully grasp the threat of jihadism until it was too late to prevent the attacks of September 11.  Its intelligence organizations failed to grasp the threat of jihadism and lacked a concerted effort to structurally combat it.  

These ineffective political responses fuel jihad.  Wright shows a political world that does not critically dissect or address jihadism at its root level.  He suggests that jihadism will grow unless there is a substantive and coordinated response against it.  As seen in the governmental responses of Saudi Arabia, Sudan, and the United States, Wright feels that jihadism must be addressed in a structurally authentic manner.  If not, it will reach anyone and everyone, even those who might be in "the looming tower."

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