The shadow of Muhammed : developing a charismatic leadership model for the Islamic world
Kostrzebski, Edward W.
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This study examines the question of whether the type of leadership exhibited by Osama bin Laden which led to the devastating attacks of September 11 was a singular phenomenon or an example of a recurring type in the Islamic world. This thesis proposes that a specific, recurring type of charismatic religio-political leadership - first exhibited by Muhammad, the prophet and founder of Islam - has proven to be spectacularly successful throughout Islamic history. This leadership type, firmly rooted in the history and ecology of the 7th century Arabian peninsula, the birthplace of Islam, centers on the successful collapsing together of religious and political leadership in the person of a single charismatic individual. Historical manifestations are examined using the writings of Ibn Khaldun and the individual case studies of the Mahdi of the Sudan, the Ayatollah Khomeini, and Osama bin Laden. The policy implications - for both cooperation and confrontation with a leader of this type - that flow from the model are also discussed. Demographic and technological trends in the Middle East are examined in order to determine whether the relative frequency with which this type leader will appear in the near future is likely to increase or decrease. The leadership model developed in this thesis, which I use to explain the popular success of Osama bin Laden in the wider Muslim world, provides U.S. policy makers with an additional tool with which to prosecute the ongoing war on terror.
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