Martin Kramer is the editor of a blog called Sandstorm. He's also the author of the book Ivory Towers on Sand, which documented the long track record of Mideast Studies "luminaries" who are usually either egregiously wrong in their predictions or out and out apologists for terrorism. Now that Harvard is recommending Ivory Towers on Sand as the counterpart pre-reading text to Edward Said's Orientalism, wouldn't you be interested in Martin Kramer's reading list of key articles (all FREE!) that would introduce you to the Middle East and the history of Islamism? I thought so. I would add to his list two articles from The Atlantic, one Esquire article, and one discourse on movements within Islam:
 Bernard Lewis, The Roots of Muslim Rage. Still the best thing written on the subject, from someone whose depth of knowledge in this area is simply awe-inspiring.  Robert Kaplan's "The Coming Anarchy" mostly applies beyond the Mideast, in Africa, Afghanistan, possibly Central Asia. Its most likely Mideast application is actually the Palestinian Authority. As the seminal piece on failed states, however, I thought it deserved inclusion in any War on Terror-related reading list. The Brothers Judd has a very good review and discussion of the book that sprang from this article.  On a related note, "The Pentagon's New Map" by Thomas P.M. Barnett of the U.S. Naval War College talks about a stable world Core, and a Gap of wobbly and/or failed states where we are likely to find our future conflicts. "Disconnectedness," he says, "defines danger." These ideas extend way beyond just the Mideast (and that's good), but they are useful there too.  Abdal Hakim-Murad: "Islamic Spirituality: The Forgotten Revolution"