Inside the Army of Terror

Book - 2016
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Fully Revised & Updated Edition of the New York Times Bestselling and Highly Praised Book on ISIS

With newly added material and breaking news including:
--Interview with a former ISIS spymaster
--Why ISIS is targeting Europe and the US
--What Russia wants in Syria
--Revelations on the brutal ideology of ISIS

With brutal attacks in last year across the globe--Brussels, Paris, Beirut, Egypt, Turkey--the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has proved itself the greatest terrorist threat in the world today. They have conquered massive territories in Syria and Iraq in a bid to create a new Muslim caliphate under the strict dictates of Sharia law.

In this fully revised and updated edition of ISIS: Inside the Army of Terror , American journalist Michael Weiss and Syrian analyst Hassan Hassan explain how these violent extremists evolved from a nearly defeated Iraqi insurgent group into a jihadi army of international volunteers who, with slickly produced murder videos, are spreading violence and mayhem across the globe. Beginning with the early days of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the founder of ISIS's first incarnation, Weiss and Hassan explain who the key players are--from their leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi to the former Saddam Baathists in their ranks--where they come from, how they have attracted both local and global support, and how they operate--from their social media strategy to their illicit oil revenues. As money and matériel continue to flow into the region to combat the ISIS's spreading terror, other forces--Assad's regime, Russian planes, Iranian Quds Forces, and other Shiite militias--are gaining power and using the fight against ISIS as a means to leverage their agenda in the region.

Political and military maneuvering by the United States, Iraq, Iran, Syria, and Russia have fueled ISIS's explosive expansion. In five new chapters, the authors delve further into the inner workings of the Army of Terror and what it is like to live under their ever-tightening rule. With invaluable and exclusive insider information, the authors explore the Islamic State's enigmatic recruitment and training methods, the impact of their military successes and failures, and how they structure and empower home-grown cells worldwide to carry out their terror. Drawing on original interviews with former US military officials and current ISIS fighters--and brand-new interviews with a former ISIS spy, as well as Kurdish and Yazidi survivors of the ISIS's assault on northern Iraq--the authors reveal the internecine struggles within the movement itself, as well as ISIS's bloody hatred of Shiite Muslims, which is generating another sectarian war in the region. A new generation of terror has dawned in the world and to understand how to stop it, we must understand who they are.
Publisher: New York : Regan Arts, 2016.
Edition: Revised & updated, Second edition.
ISBN: 9781682450291
Branch Call Number: 363.3250956 WEI 2016
Characteristics: xviii, 411 pages
Additional Contributors: Hassan, Hassan 1982-


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Feb 02, 2018

This is book explains in great detail how ISIS developed as an off-shoot and then a rival to Al Qaeda. Some of the leaders seem, frankly, unimpressive as far as education and religious rigor (par for the course, we find), but what they lack in "book smarts" they make up for in their understanding of how to take advantage of opportunities as they present themselves.

While Al Qaeda can claim parentage for ISIS, it was undeniably midwived by Saddam Hussein's counter-terrorist shadow infrastructure, the mismanagement of the war in Iraq and it's subsequent "victory" and, not surprisingly, the machinations of the Syrian government. It must also be said that the eagerness of the United States to leave Iraq after the election of Al Maliki- while understandable- led to the perfect storm of conditions that allowed ISIS to truly flourish; had the Shia government not felt that they had carte blanche to antagonize Sunni populations, ISIS would not have looked nearly as attractive to them.

This isn't a book about the Syrian Civil War, but there are insights into how Assad uses the specter of ISIS to legitimize his government. This is a strategy of his that has gone back for over a decade. Terrorists frequently used Syria to get through to Iraq during the war, with little or no harassment from the government. When such actors were caught, the worst of the worst were released before their full sentences were served, and it's hard to believe that the Syrian government didn't know what kinds of activities they were going to resume.

I agree with other reviewers: in light of the detail provided for the origins and their early activities in the Iraqi theater, it's frustrating that the later, present part of the story can read as anecdotal. However, we should keep in mind that this remains a developing story. Given that, the level to which they could detail ISIS's activities, particularly in the tribal regions, is impressive. While our immediate thoughts of ISIS may be of beheadings and rape- and don't worry, the authors assure us that these do indeed happen- for some groups, particularly in Syria, they're a better governance bet than the alternatives. Will they be charged, ahem, usurious taxes? Yes, but the rule of law (such as it is) will be applied equally, regardless of wealth or family connections. ISIS knows how to play on social media better than most terrorist groups thus far, but they also know what to do once they're in charge. That may be the most terrifying thing about them.

Overall though, I closed the book feeling that ISIS was a much less frightening organization than popular reports would lead us to believe. Yes, they've committed unspeakable atrocities and caused misery for hundreds of thousands, but we are reminded that they are an organization of people- some of them with very common motivations- not supernatural monsters. I would have liked to have seen a prescription for how ISIS can be defeated before they die out on their own, but hopefully this will provide insights for those who are charged with answering that question.

Highly recommended for observers of MENA (Middle East and North Africa)

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