In his 250th column for openDemocracy, nearly five years on from the attacks in New York and Washington, Paul Rogers says that Al Qaeda "far from being a nihilistic phenomenon...is better described as an unusual transnational revolutionary movement rooted in a quasi-religious ideology which promotes a number of clear-cut aims".
It is vital to know one's enemy, and this description seems like a contribution to a good start on that, but I'm not convinced it's the whole picture.
Others argue that Al Qaeda phenomenon and its associates have many of the characteristics of a cult. How useful is this analogy and what can it teach us?
One other thing. Paul Rogers lists one of Al Qaeda's five near term aims to be the establishment of the Palestinian state. He does not mention the elimination of the state of Israel. But is this not an Al Qaeda aim?