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700 Club Special

Raymond Ibrahim Biography

The 700 Club

RAYMOND IBRAHIM, a Middle East and Islam specialist, is a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center and an Associate Fellow at the Middle East Forum. A widely published author, best known for The Al Qaeda Reader (Doubleday, 2007), he guest lectures at universities, including the National Defense Intelligence College, briefs governmental agencies, such as U.S. Strategic Command and the Defense Intelligence Agency, provides expert testimony for Islam-related lawsuits, and has testified before Congress regarding the conceptual failures that dominate American discourse concerning Islam and the worsening plight of Egypt's Christian Copts. Among other media, he has appeared on MSNBC, Fox News, C-SPAN, PBS, Reuters, Al-Jazeera, CBN, and NPR.

His writings, translations, and observations have appeared in a variety of publications, including the Financial Times, Jerusalem Post, Los Angeles Times, New York Times Syndicate, United Press International , USA Today, Washington Post, Washington Times, and Weekly Standard; scholarly journals, including the Almanac of Islamism, Chronicle of Higher Education, Jane's Islamic Affairs Analyst, Middle East Quarterly, and Middle East Review of International Affairs; and popular websites, such as American Thinker, Bloomberg, FrontPage Magazine, Hudson NY, Jihad Watch, National Review Online, and PJ Media. He has contributed chapters to several anthologies.

After a brief athletic career, Raymond went on to receive his B.A. and M.A. (both in History, focusing on the ancient and medieval Near East, with dual-minors in Philosophy and Literature) from California State University, Fresno. There he studied closely with noted military-historian Victor Davis Hanson. He also took graduate courses at Georgetown University's Center for Contemporary Arab Studies—including classes on the history, politics, and economics of the Arab world—and studied Medieval Islam and Semitic languages at Catholic University of America. His M.A. thesis examined an early military encounter between Islam and Byzantium based on early Arabic and Greek texts.

Raymond Ibrahim's dual-background—born and raised in the U.S. by Egyptian parents born and raised in the Middle East—has provided him with unique advantages, from equal fluency in English and Arabic, to an equal understanding of the Western and Middle Eastern mindsets (positioning him to explain the latter to the former). His interest in Islamic civilization was first piqued when he began visiting the Middle East as a child in the 1970s. Interacting and conversing with the locals throughout the decades has provided him with an intimate appreciation for that part of the world, complementing his academic training.

Mr. Ibrahim's resume includes serving as Associate Director of the Middle East Forum (where he is currently an Associate Fellow); and working as a Reference Assistant at the Near East Section of the Library of Congress, where he was often contacted by, and provided information to, defense and intelligence personnel involved in the fields of terrorism and area studies, as well as the Congressional Research Service. He resigned from both positions in order to focus exclusively on researching and writing.

It was at the Library of Congress that he discovered hitherto unknown al-Qaeda treatises written in Arabic, which he went on to translate and annotate into the well received The Al Qaeda Reader. Based solely on al-Qaeda's own words, this collection of translations, according to Mr. Ibrahim, "proves once and for all that, despite the propaganda of al-Qaeda and its sympathizers, radical Islam's war with the West is not finite and limited to political grievances—real or imagined—but is existential, transcending time and space and deeply rooted in faith [p. xii]."

The terror strikes of 9/11 played a pivotal role in his formative outlook. As he explains in the Chronicle of Higher Education, when the attacks occurred, he was in the midst of doing research for his M.A. thesis, which centered on the role of jihad in early Islam. Immediately after 9/11, Raymond—then a student of history and theology, not politics and current events—began reading up on al-Qaeda; he began watching Al Jazeera. He was immediately struck by the continuity evident between the words, deeds, and goals of the seventh century mujahidin ("jihadists"), whom he had been studying for years, and the near verbatim words, deeds, and goals of twenty-first century jihadists. Since then, he has maintained that to understand contemporary Islam, one must first understand Islamic history, doctrine, and epistemology.

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