What the Al-Qaeda Training Manual is REALLY useful for
I have waded through the Qur'an, sizeable chunks of the Hadith (traditions: sayings and acts of The Prophet), the Sirah (Life of the Prophet), plus assorted commentaries, etc.
I rapidly came to the conclusion that the main problem is not the insanity of a few fanatics on the fringes of Islam, but Islam itself, or, to be more specific, the Qur'an.
The Al-Qaeda Training Manual is useful because:
1. For every conceivable kind of atrocity or other shenanigans that the fanatics might get up to, it provides a supportive quotation from the Qur'an, Hadith, or both. Crimes that can be justified by appeal to Islamic scripture include (but are not restricted to): murder (or even mass murder), theft, banditry, deception (including denying that one is a Muslim), kidnapping, killing of hostages, and torture.
2. It clarifies the motives of the terrorists. These have little to do with the recent invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, and everything to do with imposing a world-wide caliphate, by outright force or more insidious means.
It contains little that is of much practical use to a terrorist, other than a few hints on cell organisation, counter-surveillance tactics, etc. (In fact the copy available from the US Dept. of Justice site has already been redacted to remove any information that would be directly useful.) However, for the insight that it gives into the terrorist mentality, and what they are likely to get up to, it is invaluable.
It should be compulsory reading for anyone who is in favour of an open society, instead of being regarded as subversive literature.