While I was doing research on the takfiri movement, I came across a remarkable February 1982 article on Egypt's Islamist movements in the journal of the (leftist) Middle East Research and Information Project (MERIP) -- MERIP Reports. The author, Saad Eddin Ibrahim, interviewed imprisoned members of Takfir wal- Hijra and the "Military Academy" group during 1978- early 1979 time frame. Being that the bulk of the research for the article was completed before the dramatic events of 1979 or Anwar Sadat's assassination in October 1981, the insights gained from the interviews are untainted by the repercussions of those years.
It's a snap-shot into the jihadist mindset before it became a self- consciously global movement. What's surprising is how consistent that message has been since the 1970s:
Even more surprising is how stable the profile of the "average" Islamic militant since their emergence on the international scene in the 1970s. Long before Marc Sageman's ground-breaking work on militant Islamist profiles, Ibrahim described the "typical social profile" of the militants he interviewed:
It makes me wonder why our analytical institutions have been so bad at recognizing and understanding the threat from militant Islam, decade after decade. It's not like this enemy has changed much since the 1970s. As a matter of fact, its very lack of change is a testament to the enduring power of the message.