Al Qaedaism, communism, and 1949 MGM water ballet musicals

Snip from an essay by Arnaud de Borchgrave:

Communism had Karl Marx. Al Qaedaism has Sayed Qtub. Who's he, most people would ask. The ideology that nurtured modern Islamic extremism, and spawned every violent movement from Hezbollah to al Qaeda, was born in 1952 when Qtub, an Egyptian writer, returned from studying American literature at the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley, Colo.

The tipping point from detached observer to extremist ideologue took place at a church dance in Greeley when, as Qtub recalled in "The America I Saw," the pastor dimmed the lights and put on the come-hither number "Baby, It's Cold Outside," a hit tune from the MGM movie "Neptune's Daughter" — a guy, girl and bathing suit lemon — with Esther Williams and Ricardo Montalban.

"The room," Qtub wrote "became a confusion of feet and legs; arms twisted around hips; lips met lips; chests pressed together," That was the scene that turned him off American culture in particular and Western culture in general — and onto Islamic fundamentalism. "American girls," Qtub said, "know perfectly well the seductive power of their bodies… that it resides in their face, expressive eyes and hungry lips. They know that seduction resides in firm round breasts and hungry lips, full buttocks and well shaped legs — and they show all this without trying to conceal it."

Link (Thanks, Bill Fletcher)

Reader comment: Rick Burgess says,

The Power of Nightmares (3hrs and available on google video I think) by Adam Curtis does an excellent job of telling this story; that while the American experience turned Qtub towards extreme devoutness it was being tortured by Egyptian jailers (with CIA involvement) that made him violent. It's an important point -it wasn't sexy dances that made him favour violence it was being subjected to violence that did it. And de Borchgrave comparing communism to a terrorist group doesn't inspire confidence… as does anything in the Washington Times which is Rev. Moon's mouthpiece.

James says,

It's highly simplistic to assert, as Rick Burgess does, that Qutb only turned extreme after being imprisoned by the Nasser regime. In fact, Qutb *supported* Nasser during his military coup, and unlike many fellow members of the Muslim Brotherhood, opposed Nasser creating a democracy in Egypt. On the Wiki: "In contrast, Qutb was very supportive of Nasser's autocratic movement and publically advocated for a 'just dictatorship'". This was *before* Nasser's crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood. Link

Burgess' attempt to minimize the totalitarian nature of Qutb's version of Islam doesn't inspire much confidence, citing "The Power of Nightmares", a program that terrorism expert Peter Bergen noted, in a review for the liberal-left Nation magazine, "sometimes has the feel of a Noam Chomsky lecture channeled by Monty Python": Link