The founders of al-Qaeda are not religious fundamentalists per se. That is, they are not focused simply on the relationship between themselves and God, and on the values and cultural norms of the religious community. They are a political phenomenon more than a religious one. I like to call them Islamo-Leninists. I use the term "Leninists" to convey the utopian-totalitarian vision of al-Qaeda as well its self-image. As al-Qaeda's chief ideologist, Ayman al-Zawahiri, has put it, al-Qaeda is the ideological vanguard, whose attacks on the United States and other Western targets are designed to mobilize and energize the Muslim masses to rise up against their own corrupt rulers, who are propped up by America. Like all good Leninists, the Islamo-Leninists are certain that the Muslim masses are deeply dissatisfied with their lot and that one or two spectacular acts of jihad against the "pillars of tyranny" in the West will spark them to overthrow the secularizing, immoral, and unjust Arab-Muslim regimes that have defiled Islam.