Books and Documents

Radical Islamism and Jihad

The Battle for the Lands of the Caliphate
Clifford D. May

They intend to become so powerful — and so dangerous — that no Iraqi government will dare defy them. Bashar Assad, the mass-murdering dictator they’ve rescued, is to serve as their obedient Syrian satrap. Hezbollah, their terrorist foreign legion, has been tightening its grip on Lebanon. Yemen’s Houthi rebels depend on Tehran for funding, arms and, presumably, instruction....


Stop Portraying Islamic State As A Band Of Exotic Globetrotters
Tom Smith

And perhaps most concerning has been recent coverage of the persecution of the Rohingya in Myanmar. As the world slowly finds its voice (if not much else) to condemn the Burmese government, too many onlookers are falling for that same government’s claim of a Rohingya extremist insurgency. It seems the West found another opportunity to invent new jihadists: exotic, remote, and ready to keep the story going....


After The Liberation of Mosul, an Orgy Of Killing
Ghaith Abdul-Ahad

Around them in Mosul, captured Isis weapons were siphoned off by soldiers and corrupt officers, and then sold to the Kurds or one of the dozens of Shia military units that were ostensibly established to fight Isis. These militias have been stockpiling Isis weapons in preparation for the next conflict. In Baghdad, the very politicians whose disastrous actions had led to the rise of Isis were appearing on TV, giving speeches, as they continued to jostle, bicker and loot the nation. The commander and his men knew that the silence of guns in this ruined country did not mean peace; it simply meant the end of one kind of war and the start of another....


Crimes of the Caliphate: Iraqi Shepherd Bears Witness to ISIS Massacre
Margaret Coker

“They were slaughtering people for all kinds of reasons, those caught using the internet, those suspected of being witches,” the shepherd, Saad al-Omar, said at the site of a mass grave here on Tuesday. “Here, I saw those victims, my neighbours. I saw bodies of mothers with their children. They had been shot. They had been burned. They were all dead.”...


If Saudi Arabia Reforms, What Happens to Islamists Elsewhere?
Kamel Daoud

Around 1744, a tribal chieftain, Muhammad ibn Saud, formed an alliance with an ultraconservative preacher named Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab and created the first monarchical state on the Arabian Peninsula. On the one hand, there was the Saud family, governing the country by right of blood and succession; on the other, there was Wahhabism, an ultra-puritanical and extreme version of Islam it called the original Islam. A family and a clergy….

Islamic State: From Physical Caliphate to Virtual Jihad
Daniel Wagner and Giuseppe Del Vecchio

Adaptations to jihadists’ modes of operation have continually outpaced states’ ability to effectively counter them, and will likely continue to do so. Virtual jihad has not only gained prominence and credibility as an alternative to traditional conceptions of jihad but has also progressively outpaced physical jihad. Although physical jihad continues to appeal to a great many actors, virtual jihad has supplanted traditional notions of jihad for a new generation of adherents…


A Tale of Two Hotels, a Buddha Behind Each
Mujib Mashal

It also has many paintings of the giant, cliff-side Buddha statues that made this region famous around the world before their destruction at the hands of the Taliban in 2001. “The Buddhas were the identity of Bamian,” said Ustad Abdullah, 63, a biology teacher cutting greens for his cows in the fields nearby. “I am confident they will rebuild the Buddhas. But maybe they should leave them like that — to show what the Taliban did?”....

The Afghan Taliban has not only rejected the Islamic State’s political vision of establishing Khorasan Province under the Caliphate but is also actively fighting against ISIS in Afghanistan. The eventual goal of the Afghan Taliban is the resurgence “of the lost Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.” As their focus is only on the political concept of this emirate…

A Jihad Grows in Florida
Daniel Greenfield

The plotters may look like buffoons to us. But the difference between a buffoon and a monster is success. If the 9/11 hijackers had failed, their plot to destroy the World Trade Centre, the Pentagon and the White House using box cutters would have seemed hilarious. Had Omar Mateen’s plot been broken up early, the media would have dismissed him as a delusional idiot whose terror plots were nothing more than empty fantasies....


ISIS is not defeated ideologically, and there is much wishful thinking that once it loses territory it will not be seen as an attractive Salafi-Jihadi franchise. Its “end-of-times” vision easily accommodates defeat and its symbolic narrative can be reframed for a renewed focus on the West. Ever since al- Qa’ida’s leader Ayman al-Zawahiri helped establish the Islamic Jihad in Egypt during the 1990s, the Salafi-Jihadi insurgency has not been defeated — it just morphs into a new menace....


Iran Sent Them to Syria, Now Afghan Fighters Are a Worry at Home
Mujib Mashal

“They tell you are defending the shrine of Zainab, and that is true: We believe in defending our religion and faith,” Jawed said. “But when you get there, you realize you have been brought to the slaughterhouse of a war of major powers.”...


Political Pandering Nurtures Cancer of Islamic Extremism
Fareed Zakaria

"Travel around Asia and you will see so many new mosques and madrasas built in the last 30 years that have had funding from the Gulf. They are modern, clean, air-conditioned, well-equipped -- and Wahhabi [Saudi Arabia's puritanical version of Islam]." Recently, it was reported that Saudi Arabia plans to contribute almost $1 billion to build 560 mosques in Bangladesh….


Soldiers Trained For Jihad Need to Fight Wars without End
Saeed Naqvi

Strange the connections the mind makes. Trained hounds, when redundant, can be housed in kennels, walked, and distributed among dog lovers. What does mankind do with trained Jihadis? They have been trained to kill “Kafirs” and blow themselves up with promises of Houris in paradise. After a Jihadi has served his ghoulish purpose, what are his trainers supposed to do with him? Send him elsewhere on another Jihadi expedition?...


How Muslims Can Answer the ISIS Myth of Islamic Supremacy

I used to joke with friends that the U.K. is now Englandistan. But the time for jokes is over. A Wahhabi extremist like Anjem Choudary wants Sharia in the U.K., where he was born and raised. He openly praises Daesh. America has its own (not as famous) version in Maryland-based “Imam” Suleiman Anwar Bengharsa, who came here from Libya as a 10-year-old boy….


The human capacity for atrocities is limitless, and philosophies that offer moral justification for them are particularly pernicious. Careful vetting of immigrants makes sense, while a meat-ax approach does not. This struggle may continue for decades or even centuries. Unlike in the contest with communism, we in the non-Muslim world have limited influence. Our best hopes for countering Islamism are: 1) recognizing that it’s an ideology; and 2) remembering that moderate Muslims are indispensable allies.

The cancer of Islamist extremism spreads around the world
Fareed Zakaria

Consider Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim country, long seen as a moderate bulwark. This year, the governor of Jakarta, the country's capital and largest city, lost his bid for re-election after he was painted by hardliners as unfit for office because he is Christian. Worse, he was then jailed after being convicted on a dubious and unfair blasphemy charge. Amid a rising tide of extremist politics, Indonesia's "moderate" president and its mainstream "moderate" organisations have failed to stand up for the country's traditions of tolerance and multiculturalism.

After Raqqa, Daesh Will Be More Virulent
Talmiz Ahmad

The most dangerous aspect of extremist violence is the role of lone-wolf actors who attack soft targets in various parts of the world, particularly Europe. Their earlier activities do not indicate any direct association with radical groups; they seem to be indoctrinated via social media. Though several lone-wolf attacks have taken place in the West, no clear profile of the perpetrators has emerged that would enable security experts to pre-empt their attacks….


The Fall of the House of ISIS
John Feffer

The Middle East today is enduring a replay of World War II — with the Islamic State in the role of Nazi Germany. The Islamic State likewise reached its peak expansion in mid-2014 when it controlled large chunks of Iraq and Syria. It has experienced a rise and fall even more precipitous than the Nazis’. By mid-2016, a mere two years later, it had already lost 45 percent of its territory in Syria and 20 percent of its territory in Iraq....


In recent years, ISIS has horrified global audiences with video clips of unspeakable atrocities. What sort of human beings could behead, incinerate, drown, torture and blow up innocent civilians, mock and record such horror, and then narrate their macabre videos for a world audience? How could such pre-modern psychopaths ever be defeated, given that in a matter of months ISIS had managed to overrun vast swaths of Iraq and Syria?...


More than 350 people died in the blast and the collapsed buildings, according to official government figures, and more than 50 are still unaccounted for. All that remained of the once bustling Zoobe Junction was a pile of mangled wreckage and a blackened road strewn with body parts and burnt cargo....


ISIS Fighters Are Not Flooding Back Home to Wreak Havoc as Feared
Eric Schmitt

If the Islamic State fighters regroup in Turkey, they can return in small groups to Europe or elsewhere via the old refugee route, which is less fluid than it was but still penetrable. A Belgian was recently arrested in Turkey, suspected of plotting a terrorist attack there, after spending years in Syria. Some fighters leaving conflict zones seem to have been briefed in detail on how to act when they encountered government authorities, in an apparent attempt to ensure that they would not be deported to countries where they may be arrested....


Double Games Nations Play: US Backing of the ISIS Draws Upon Strategies Once Deployed By Pakistan
Khaled Ahmed

Saudi Arabia and the UAE are likewise more bothered about the Iranian militias in Iraq-Syria fighting the IS and wouldn’t mind funding the latter. President Trump has compounded the confusion by turning against Iran. The means indirectly helping the IS, which, in turn, threatens America and its NATO allies with “conversion” of their Muslim citizens to terrorism....


As ISIS’ Role in Syria Wanes, Other Conflicts Take the Stage
Anne Barnard

But thousands of Islamic State fighters have been allowed to simply hand in their weapons and go free under an odd loophole that has become a trademark of this conflict. Just before the final assault on a militant-controlled town or village, it is not unusual to see lines of buses pulling up, loading hundreds of fighters and their families, and driving them off the battlefield, sometimes to other Islamic State-controlled territory....


Why Islamist Attack Demands A Careful Response From Mozambique
Eric Morier-Genoud

Islam is overwhelmingly Sufi in Mozambique, with a majority of Muslims belonging to different Turuq (brotherhoods). Sufism represents the more mystical side of Islam - opposed by scripturalist Muslims, such as the Wahhabi, who accuse them of deviating from the Koran. The return of African graduates from Saudi Arabia in the 1970s gave political clout to the reformist and scripturalist movements in Mozambique. They gained control of some mosques and, in collaboration with the Portuguese, expanded their presence....

With Loss of Its Caliphate, ISIS May Return to Guerrilla Roots
Margaret Coker, Eric Schmitt and Rukmini Callimach

With Loss of Its Caliphate, ISIS May Return to Guerrilla Roots
Rukmini Callimachi

But rather than declare the Islamic State and its virulent ideology conquered, many Western and Arab counterterrorism officials are bracing for a new, lethal incarnation of the jihadist group. The organization has a proven track record as an insurgency able to withstand major military onslaughts, while still recruiting adherents around the world ready to kill in its name.....

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