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Counterterrorism Bookshelf: 40 Books on Terrorism & Counter-Terrorism-Related Subjects

Reviewed by Joshua Sinai

This column consists of capsule reviews of recent books from various publishers.

Rajeev Bhattacharyya, Rendezvous With Rebels: Journey to Meet India’s Most Wanted Man (Noida, Uttar Pradesh, India: Harper Collins Publishers India, 2014), 328 pp., US $ 5.80 – US $ 12.86 [Paperback], ISBN: 978-9351363163.

This is a fascinating and well-informed account by a prominent Indian journalist, of his several-months’ long risky journey (with another fellow journalist) to visit rebel bases in eastern Nagaland in Myanmar, from where Indian separatist insurgent groups such as the United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA), the National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB), the United People’s Party of Kangleipak (UPPK) and the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) launch their cross-border operations into India. These visits entailed extensive interviews with the leaders and operatives of these groups, especially those associated with the UPPK. The author concludes that prospects for peaceful resolution of these separatist insurgencies depend on improved cooperation between the Indian and Myanmar governments on these issues and increased acceptance of the primacy of the sovereignty of Assam within the context of the northeast “as the core issue” of such negotiations (p. 291).

 

Gerhard Bowering (Ed.) Islamic Political Thought: An Introduction (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2015), 304 pp., US $ 24.95 [Paperback], ISBN: 9780691164823.

The contributors to this edited volume present a comprehensive overview of the origins and evolution of Islamic political thought from the birth and rise of Islam in the seventh century to the current period. Following the editor’s introductory overview, the chapters cover topics such as the role of authority and governance in Islam (particularly in the aftermath of the Prophet Muhammad’s life), for instance, as expressed in the concept of the Caliphate; the Quran as Islam’s ‘holy book’; the roles of Shari’a (religious law) and the ulama (the body of religious scholars) in society; how the religion views different forms of jihad (e.g., how they are expressed internally and externally); how Islam regards women and minorities; and the nature of the relations between Islamic fundamentalism, revival and reform, and modernity. As an overview of these components of Islamic political thought, most of the chapters are authoritatively and clearly written. The chapter on “Modernity” by Armando Salvatore, however, is one of the book’s weakest, as it is filled with academic jargon that makes little sense to those who understand the components of modernity, such as his conclusion that “the significance of Islamic globalism at the present stage of entanglement of multiple modernities might support the decoupling of modernization from Westernization and a reconstruction of modernity along specific civilizational paths conforming to their foundational images, symbols, and discursive patterns….The growing Islamic focus on transnational interconnectedness transcends a Eurocentric modernist approach to modernity confined within the rationale of nation-states or of new aggregations thereof, like the European Union” (p. 150).

 

James Defronzo, Revolutions and Revolutionary Movements [5th edition] (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 2015), 520 pp., US $ 50.00 [Paperback], ISBN: 9780813349244.

This textbook is a comprehensive and interesting account of important political revolutions in the 20th and 21st centuries, based on a conceptual framework for each case that examines “the significance of factors that appear necessary to the success of all revolutions,” how individual revolutionary conflicts played out, and “the history and unique social characteristics generating the essential revolution-promoting factors.” (p. 5) Beginning with an introductory overview of social movements and revolutions, case studies are presented of the revolutions in Russia and Eastern Europe, China, Vietnam, Cuba, Nicaragua, Iran (and Islamic Fundamentalism), South Africa, what the author terms as ‘democratic revolutions’ in Venezuela and Bolivia, and the Arab revolutions in Middle Eastern countries such as Egypt, Libya, Syria and Tunisia. The concluding chapter presents comparisons between the case studies, a critique of certain prominent theories of revolution, and prospects for the future. Each case study concludes with references for further readings, including selected film documentaries.

 

Phil Gurski, The Threat From Within: Recognizing Al Qaeda-Inspired Radicalization and Terrorism In The West (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2016), 162 pp., US $ 75.00 [Hardcover], US $ 32.00 [Paperback], ISBN: 978-1-4422-5560-9.

This is an interesting conceptual and empirical examination of the pathways of radicalization into terrorism in Western countries, with a special focus on al Qaida type groupings and the lone wolves they inspire, including those that operate in Canada. The author, a recently retired veteran analyst in Canadian intelligence, is well positioned to discuss these issues, including the application of practical methodologies to analyze them. The book is divided into five chapters: the first chapter examines the key conceptual drivers, ranging from socio-economic backgrounds and psychological characteristics to physical venues (such as religious institutions, schools, the Internet, and foreign conflict zones) that underlie radicalization into terrorism; the second chapter presents key concepts from Islam and Muslim history that characterize al Qaida-type narratives that help to shape an “extremist mindset”; the third chapter discusses what the author considers to be 12 key behaviors and attitudes that characterize those that embark on such violent radicalization (such as intolerant religiosity, rejection of Western ways and policies, and obsession with violent jihad and martyrdom); the fourth chapter summarizes major Canadian cases of al Qaida-inspired terrorism since 9/11 (including the “Toronto 18” and Canadian Somalis);while the fifth chapter discusses the author’s recommendations for effective counter-extremism and counter-terrorism strategies. Although the book was written before the emergence to prominence of the Islamic State (IS/ISIL) as the most lethal expression of al Qaida-type Jihadist terrorism facing Western countries, the author’s excellent analysis also can serve to understanding and countering it better.

 

Bill Harlow (Ed.), Rebuttal: The CIA Responds to the Senate Intelligence Committee’s Study of Its Detention and Interrogation Program (Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 2015), 392 pp., US $ 16.95 [Paperback], ISBN: 978-1-59114-587-5.

This book is a rebuttal by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and its former top officials to what they considered to be inaccuracies in the 6,000-page report issued in December 2014 by the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI), which was highly critical of the CIA’s detention and interrogation of al Qaida terrorists in the aftermath of 9/11. The volume is divided into three sections: short rebuttal articles by eight of the CIA’s former top officials, including George J. Tenet, Porter Goss and General (Retired) Michael V. Hayden; the official CIA response (with classified details redacted); and the Minority Report issued by the SSCI’s Republican Senators. This volume is an important and indispensable contribution to understanding the factors underlying the detention and interrogation component in America’s counterterrorism campaign in response to al Qaida’s horrific attacks in 9/11 and its aftermath.

 

Larissa Van Den Herik and Nico Schrijver (Eds.), Counter-Terrorism Strategies in a Fragmented International Legal Order: Meeting the Challenges (New York, NY: Cambridge University Press, 2013), 798 pp., US $ 155.00 [Hardcover], US $ 49.99 [Paperback], ISBN: 978-1107025387.

The contributors to this edited volume, who are prominent legal scholars from around the world, examine the roles and applications of international legal instruments in enhancing the legal basis for governments’ counterterrorism measures. With acts of terrorism defined as “criminal” in nature, the book is divided into three parts: improving international cooperation in the investigation and prosecution of terrorist acts, the legal basis for the use of force against terrorists, and the intersection between international human rights law and international humanitarian law in counter-terrorism. An Annex provides the “Leiden Policy Recommendations on Counter-Terrorism and International Law.”

 

Institute for Economics & Peace, Global Terrorism Index 2015: Measuring and Understanding the Impact of Terrorism (New York, NY: Institute for Economics & Peace, 2015), 108 pp., www.economicsandpeace.org.

This third edition of the Global Terrorism Index provides a comprehensive summary of the key global trends and patterns in terrorism over the last 15 years, with a special emphasis on 2014. The monograph consists of key summary findings on terrorism trends, the economic cost of terrorism, and correlates and drivers of terrorism (such as the presence of political violence, the nature of a country’s safety and security environment, pervasive lack of respect for human rights, with different drivers operating in wealthier than in poorer countries). Among the report’s numerous findings is that terrorism has continued its escalatory trajectory, with the total number of fatalities from terrorism reaching 32, 685 in 2014, constituting an 80 percent increase from 18, 111 the previous year. The top ranked countries in terms of their fatalities from terrorism in 2014 are (in order): Iraq, Afghanistan, Nigeria, Pakistan, Syria, India, Yemen, Somalia, Libya, and Thailand. In another interesting ranking, the report finds that the most lethal terrorist groups during the period of 2010-2014 were Boko Haram, ISIL, the Taliban, al-Shabaab, and another Nigerian group, the Fulani militant group. In terms of the economic cost of countering terrorism, the report finds that the United States “accounts for 70 percent of total global spending on national security agencies.” (p. 64) The report also includes contributions from other experts, who discuss issues such as a portrait of the Islamic State (IS) and the challenges and opportunities of measuring terrorism. The Annex includes an explanation of the methodology used in formulating the Index. The report is produced by the Institute for Economics and Peace, based on data from the Global Terrorism Database (GTD), which is collected by the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START), University of Maryland, College Park.

 

William McCants, The ISIS Apocalypse: The History, Strategy, and Doomsday Vision of the Islamic State (New York, NY: St. Martin’s Press, 2015), 256 pp., US $ 26.99 [Hardcover], ISBN: 978-1250080905.

This book examines the “religious fervor, strategic calculation, and doomsday prophesy” that play a role in shaping the Islamic State’s (also known as IS, ISIL or ISIS) terrorist warfare and global ambitions. Despite the book’s relatively short length: some 160 pages of text, 20 pages of appendices, and 50 pages of detailed footnotes, its use of primary sources in Arabic, such as ancient Islamic texts and al Qaida and Islamic State documents (some of which are included in the appendices) and the author’s expertise on these issues, make it a highly authoritative examination that will be indispensable to those interested in understanding the nature of this group and its ever widening areas of operation.

 

Farish A. Noor, The Malaysian Islamic Party PAS 1951-2013: Islamism in a Mottled Nation (Amsterdam, The Netherlands: Amsterdam University Press/Distributed by The University of Chicago Press, 2014), 280 pp., US $ 99.00 [Hardcover], ISBN: 978-90-8964-576-0.

This is a highly detailed and comprehensive examination of the origins and evolution of the Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS) from its establishment in 1951 until the current period. The author concludes that “the viability of the various discourses within PAS, and the viability of PAS itself as a party, depend on the structural-economic circumstances that may or may not allow Islamism to present itself as a genuine alternative to the dominant paradigms of capital-driven development and the modern postcolonial nation-state” (p. 239). Such insights also apply to other Islamist-based parties around the world that attempt to capture state power against their secular competitors through an electoral process.

 

Thomas Small and Jonathan Hacker, Path of Blood: The Story of Al Qaeda’s War on the House of Saud (New York, NY: The Overlook Press, 2015), 480 pp., US$ 32.50 [Hardcover], ISBN: 978-1468310603.

An interesting account, based on the authors’ investigative reporting, of al Qaida’s ambition to attack and undermine the Saudi Arabian regime, which it claims has no religious legitimacy to rule over Mecca and Medina, the two holiest places in Islam. Al Qaida also hopes that by conquering the birthplace of Islam, it would succeed in re-establishing a Muslim Caliphate (Empire) that would stretch worldwide. With al Qaida ‘Central’ and its affiliate Al Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) continuing to target Saudi Arabia, whether through cells in the Kingdom itself or from its bases in Yemen, and the Saudi-led military campaign against al Qaida’s forces and Shi’ite tribes in Yemen, the accounts presented in this book are especially pertinent. The authors are prominent British documentary producers and experts on the Middle East.

 

Brian Stewart and Samantha Newbery, Why Spy? The Art of Intelligence (London, England: Hurst & Company/New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2015), 288 pp., US $ 29.95 [Hardcover], ISBN: 9781849045131.

This is a highly informative examination of why governments engage in espionage and how intelligence products impact on policy-making. The book is based primarily on Brian Stewart’s extensive practitioner work in British intelligence. Following an introductory overview that includes a definition of intelligence terms, the book is divided into four parts: case studies of British intelligence operations in which Mr. Stewart was involved such as the Malayan Emergency from 1948 to 1960, Vietnam, and China; a discussion of the organization and methodology of intelligence; prominent cases of intelligence failures, such as Pearl Harbor, Cuba (in terms of the Bay of Pigs and the Missile Crisis in the early 1960s), and Iraq (the intelligence imbroglio over the supposed weapons of mass destruction by Saddam Hussein’s regime); and the use of “non-information” gathering intelligence operations in the form of special operations, deception operations and assassination.

 

Ioannis Tellidis and Harmonie Toros, (Eds.), Researching Terrorism, Peace and Conflict Studies (New York, NY: Routledge, 2015), 246 pp., US $ 155.00 [Hardcover], ISBN: 9781138018174.

The contributors to this edited volume, which is part of the discipline of “Critical Terrorism Studies,” examine the important topic of how the academic fields of terrorism and conflict resolution can be harnessed to inform each other to more effectively resolve terrorist conflicts rather than let them continue protracted and unresolved. This objective is attempted through the first part’s discussion of the theoretical underpinnings of both fields (chapters 2-5) and the second part’s case studies (chapters 6-11). As is the case with other volumes in “Critical Terrorism Studies”, this attempt is marred by the authors’ over-use of academic jargon in their writings. Examples include the following: “the ontological and epistemological status of security,” “the dysfunctionality of the liberal peace and the opportunities offered by post-liberal…peacebuilding frameworks” (p. 2); “The lack of reflexivity on the ontological status of its central concepts and assumptions is a serious obstacle, and one that is largely the consequence of the domination of the field’s positivist orientation” (p. 8); and, rather astonishingly, arguing that, in terms of a supposed similarity between Islamist ‘networks and groups’ and their Western counterparts, “there is very little to separate neo-Marxist, postmodern and post-Gramscian approaches from the ideological underpinnings of al-Qaeda and similar Islamist and jihadist groups.” (p. 8) For those inclined to follow such academic jargon, the volume’s conceptual chapters will be of interest, although some of the case studies on the conflicts in Colombia, the Basque region in Spain, and Northern Ireland, do provide insight that will benefit all readers.

 

Lorenzo Bosi, Charles Demetriou and Stefan Malthaner, Dynamics of Political Violence: A Process-Oriented Perspective on Radicalization and the Escalation of Political Conflict (Burlington, VT: Ashgate 2014), 320 pp., US$ 134.96 [Hardcover], ISBN: 978-1-4094-4351-3.

The contributors to this edited volume examine the processes in which terrorist type violence emerges, escalates, and, in some cases, declines, by focusing on “the recurring causal patterns that shape trajectories of radicalization.” (p. 2) The book is divided into four parts: the dynamics that lead to violent conflict in the interaction between oppositional movements/groups and the state; the dynamics that lead to conflictual intra-movement interactions (such as in the cases of Northern Ireland in 1968-1969 and the South African Liberation Movement); the dynamics that lead to the transformation of social movements (such as the Islamization of Palestinian nationalism); and the dynamics of transnational diffusion (such as the role of the Anarchist Diaspora in radicalizing the insurgent opposition in Franco’s Spain, and the diffusion of political violence in Europe in the 1968 protest revolts in Turkey, Paris, and elsewhere over the Arab-Israeli conflict). In an interesting chapter, Ekaterina Stepanova, of the Institute of the World Economy and International Relations (IMEMO), Moscow, Russia, discusses the evolution of al Qaida-type terrorism which makes possible a “post-Qaeda” configuration, since it is not dependent on ‘networks’ with its “actor-oriented approach and the mobilizing potential of its extremist ideology providing it with asymmetrical advantages over its more powerful state adversaries”. The concluding chapter by Martha Crenshaw, of Stanford University, provides an excellent discussion of the volume’s main findings.

 

Kathleen Gleeson, Australia’s ‘War on Terror’ Discourse (Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2014), 286 pp, US$ 134.96 [Hardcover], ISBN: 978-1-4724-1985-9.

Using Australia as its primary case study, this book is an interesting textual examination of how politicians in such a representative democracy “justify their policy decisions” in countering terrorism. The post 9/11 period of 2001 until the end of Prime Minister John Howard’s government in November 2007 serves as the primary time period for the textual examination, although other relevant periods in Australian history are discussed as well. Expressions of dissent against government counter-terrorism policies are also examined. The concluding chapter summarizes the book’s key findings and argues for a “less dangerous path” in counterterrorism political discourse than the one employed by the Howard government, with a focus on why terrorist acts, such as 9/11 were committed, accompanied by increased use of “consultation and open dialogue between many nations” in crafting response measures, all the while respecting and preserving “civil, legal and human rights and uphold[ing] democratic principles” (pp. 231-232).

 

Rebecca Richards, Understanding Statebuilding: Traditional Governance and the Modern State in Somaliland (Burlington, VT: Ashgate Publishing Company, 2014), 228 pp., US $ 107.96 [Hardcover], ISBN: 978-1-4724-2589-8.

This book’s objective is to provide a framework for conceptualizing what the author terms “acceptable statehood” within the overall context of externally-led state-building in what are considered fragile and failing states. Using Somaliland as the primary case study, the author attempts to demonstrate that by assuming “local ownership and legitimacy” (especially through the incorporation of clan-based politics) Somaliland has succeeded, at least to a certain extent, along the path of a viable state-building process, while Somalia itself is riven by internal strife.

 

Joseph Cirincione, Nuclear Nightmares: Security the World Before It Is Too Late (New York, NY: Columbia University Press, 2013), 280 pp., US $ 26.95 [Hardcover], US $ 18.95 [Paperback], ISBN: 9780231164047.

This is a well-argued account of the threats presented, as the author explains, by “the current global arsenal of some 17,000 nuclear weapons and the risk of their use, whether by accident or design”(p. 1). Also discussed are issues such as the spread of nuclear proliferation and the cost of such weapons. The book discusses which countries possess the largest nuclear arsenals, and, among them, who poses the greatest danger. It also addresses future trends in nuclear proliferation, the damage caused by nuclear detonations, and international efforts to reduce and eliminate these threats. With regard to the possibility of a terrorist group’s acquisition of a nuclear weapon, the author writes that this is of major concern since “terrorists could acquire an assembled nuclear warhead or enough fissile material to construct a bomb,” and that militant groups in Pakistan “have staged major attacks on military bases, including ones suspected of housing nuclear weapons” (p. 121).

 

Charity Scribner, After the Red Army Faction: Gender, Culture, and Militancy (New York, NY: Columbia University Press, 2015), 312 pp., US $ 50.00 [Hardcover], ISBN: 9780231168649.

This is an interesting account of what the author terms “post-militant culture – the charged field of literature, art, and criticism that responds to militancy and political violence,” which, in this case, is applied to analyzing the long-lasting impact of the Red Army Faction during and following its period of operations in Germany from the 1970s to the 1990s.

 

M.L.R. Smith and David Martin Jones, The Political Impossibility of Modern Counterinsurgency: Strategic Problems, Puzzles, and Paradoxes (New York, NY: Columbia University Press, 2015), 272 pp., US $ 45.00 [Hardcover], ISBN: 9780231170000.

This is a provocative account of what the authors term “the ambiguities and dissonances – the puzzles and enigmas – in the contemporary appreciation and practices of counterinsurgency: an idea that in the first decade of the twenty-first century assumed a prominent position in Western military and strategic thought.” (pp. ix-x) Although one may argue that this discussion overlooks a large body of literature on counterinsurgency (COIN), the authors do make a valid point that some of the writings on COIN are “highly ideological in orientation,” and tend “to mythologize the past, distort historical understanding, ignore contingency, and obscure complexity…” (pp. 182-183).

 

Tal Jonathan-Zamir, David Weisburd and Badi Hasisi (Eds.), Policing in Israel: Studying Crime Control, Community Policing, and Counterterrorism (Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 2016), 263 pp., US $ 79.96 [Hardcover], ISBN: 9781498722568.

The contributors to this volume are prominent Israeli criminologists. They examine three significant aspects of policing in Israel: crime control (e.g., analyzing crime “hot spots”, measures to ensure road safety, and the impact of the organization of the criminal justice system on crime rates); police and community (e.g., the relationship between the police and minority communities, such as Israeli Arabs); and policing terrorism, with the Israeli police also responsible for maintaining internal security. Also discussed is media coverage of police performance, including in confronting terrorism. Although the Israeli police has recently experienced several high-profile scandals involving financial corruption and mismanagement of criminal cases, it is hoped that the installation of Roni Alsheikh, the former deputy head of the General Security Service (Shin Bet) as Police Commissioner, will restore the type of efficient policing that is so well discussed in this important volume.

 

David Lowe, Policing Terrorism: Research Studies into Police Counterterrorism Investigations (Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 2016), 203 pp., US $ 71.96 [Hardcover], ISBN: 9781482226836.

Written by a former British counterterrorism detective, this highly useful practitioner-focused book is divided into two sections on policing terrorism. The first section, “The Law Governing Terrorism Investigations,” addresses issues such as how terrorism is legally defined, government policies and statutory preventative measures against terrorism, the need to balance the interests of national security and individual civil liberties in conducting surveillance and information sharing on terrorist suspects and how terrorism is funded. The volume also includes a comparative study of how terrorism-related laws are applied in a number of states. The second section, “Investigating Terrorism,” discusses issues such as the need for police officers to understand the levels of legal powers granted them to track the radicalization of individuals into terrorism. The volume also discusses how to recruit and handle informants, including when it comes to court presentations.

 

Elena Mastors, Breaking Al-Qaeda: Psychological and Operational Techniques [2nd edition], (Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 2014), 241 pp., US $ 55.96 [Hardcover], ISBN: 9781482230116.

This book is a comprehensive examination of the types of psychological and operational techniques that are effective in countering and defeating the terrorist threats presented by al Qaida and its affiliates. The author, a former U.S. government intelligence analyst and currently an academic, is well positioned to analyze these issues. In this new edition (the 1st dates from 2010), the author discusses the magnitude of the threats presented by al Qaida, including its motivation and the socio-demographic background of its operatives; the measures introduced by the U.S. government after 9/11 to counter al Qaida in the form of the establishment of the Department of Homeland Security and the passage of the Patriot Act to upgrade surveillance and arrest capabilities. The remaining chapters discuss the nature of intelligence collection against terrorism; the use of psychological influence techniques to undermine terrorist propaganda; understanding the nature of terrorist leadership, including their personal characteristics, their operating environment, their reliance on “advisers”, and their “information” environment; how to break terrorist groups by identifying their fissure points, security vulnerabilities, competition over internal resources that can be exploited; and the use by governments of psychology-based information campaigns to weaken terrorist groups on the individual, group, and intra-terrorist group levels.

 

Malcolm W. Nance, The Terrorists of Iraq: Inside the Strategy and Tactics of the Iraqi Insurgency 2003-2014 (Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 2015), 404 pp., US $ 59.95 [Hardcover], ISBN: 978-1498706896.

With the resumption of the civil war in Iraq following the withdrawal of U.S. military forces in December 2011, this book is an important contribution to understanding the strategy and tactics being employed by the al Qaida/Islamic State insurgency and the measures required in response to defeat them. In this comprehensive and detailed account, the author discusses the nature of the insurgency; the groups that compose it (ranging from al Qaida to the Islamic State); their strategy, tactics, internal organization, and weaponry; and the nature of the foreign volunteers that have joined their forces – all the components that need to be considered in formulating effective countermeasures.

 

Scott Nicholas Romaniuk and Stewart Tristan Webb (Eds.) Insurgency and Counterinsurgency in Modern War (Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 2016), 312 pp., US $ 55.96 [Hardcover], ISBN: 978-1-4822-4765-7.

The contributors to this volume examine the nature of insurgency and counterinsurgency in all its dimensions. This ranges from a discussion of how to conceptualize insurgencies, counterterrorism and counterinsurgency, to analyzing case studies of insurgencies in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria, Indonesia, Mali, Burma, the Caucasus, and the Balkans. Also analyzed are various types of insurgencies such as those marked by a “nexus” between crime and terrorism, and global insurgencies by groups such as al Qaida and its affiliates. The volume’s chapters are accompanied by numerous illustrations, tables, and chronologies of incidents, making it a valuable textbook.

 

Arabinda Acharya, Whither Southeast Asia Terrorism? (London, England, UK: Imperial College Press, 2015), 312 pp., US $ 115.00 [Hardcover], ISBN: 978-1783263899.

This is a comprehensive and well-organized account of the evolution of terrorism in Southeast Asia since the October 2002 Bali bombings, which were carried out by Jemaah Islamiyah, al Qaida’s regional affiliate. Utilizing a differentiated approach to analyze the region’s terrorist-based conflicts, the book’s chapters examine topics such as the relationship between Islamist militancy and terrorism, the maritime dimensions of terrorism as well as the responses to terrorism by individual states and regional organizations. Among the author’s well-informed conclusions is the following insight: “the terrorist threat is neither uniform across the region nor an existential concern for all the concerned countries, despite the manner that it is framed in securatization scholarship. Such a discourse, moreover, fails to take into account the varied political cultural and historical contexts in which the conflicts themselves are embedded in the region” (p. 251).

 

Rohan Gunaratna and Mohamed Bin Ali (Eds.), Terrorist Rehabilitation: A New Frontier in Counter-terrorism (London, England, UK: Imperial College Press, 2015), 272 pp., US $ 95.00 [Hardcover], ISBN: 978-1-78326-743-9.

The contributors to this volume examine the role of terrorist rehabilitation (which is also related to countering violent extremism and disengagement from terrorism), which constitutes, when applicable, an important tool in counterterrorism. Following an overview of the evolution and future direction of the practice of terrorist rehabilitation (and its related components), the chapters discuss rehabilitation programs in Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore and Sri Lanka, as well as more general approaches to counter al Qaida-type extremist religious beliefs such as Jihad, Salafism, and Takfir (the practice of excommunication) and the notion that “Islam is under attack.” The final chapter provides a useful assessment of the elements involved in tracking the outcome of terrorist rehabilitation programs and the steps that are necessary to implement best practices in regional contexts.

 

Rohan Gunaratna, Jolene Jerard and Salim Mohamed Nasir (Eds.) Countering Extremism: Building Social Resilience Through Community Engagement (London, England, UK: Imperial College Press, 2013), 228 pp., US $ 58.00 [Hardcover], ISBN: 978-1-908977-52-6.

A central theme running through this edited book is that with extremism constituting one of the precursors to terrorism and insurgency, it is essential to counter and moderate extremism at the local level in order to promote resilience in susceptible communities. Specific cases of community engagement and resilience building are discussed for Singapore, South Asia, the Middle East, and the United Kingdom, as well as on a general level, with accounts of countering extremism on the Internet. This book is the outcome of a conference held in Singapore in September 2011.

 

Muhammad Haniff Hassan, The Father of Jihad: Abd Allah Azam’s Jihad Ideas and Implications to National Security (London, England, UK: Imperial College Press, 2014), 368 p., US $ 125.00 [Hardcover], ISBN: 978-1-78326-287-8.

This is a valuable account of the writings and life of Abdullah Yusuf Azzam, one of the iconic figures in shaping the Jihadi religious ideology of groups such as al Qaida, of which he was one of the founding members. Azzam, a Palestinian Islamic scholar and theologian, was subsequently assassinated under mysterious circumstances in Peshawar, Pakistan, in November 1989. The author’s utilization of a qualitative literature review to examine Azzam’s books, articles and transcripts of his sermons and speeches, makes this volume an important contribution to the scholarship on Jihadi theologians, as it also makes extensive reference to Azzam’s theological predecessors, such as the Egyptian Sayyid Qutb. One of Azzam’s theological innovations, according to the author, was his call for making it a “duty” for Muslims “to reclaim all past Muslim territories that are currently part of, or occupied by, non-Muslim states, and…to wage jihad al-talb (offensive jihad) against non-Muslim territories until they are either part of Dar Al-Islam or submit to the rule of Dar Al-Islam.” (p. 2) The author also discusses the implications of Azzam’s ideas for current national security and provides theologically-based recommendations for countering Jihadism.

 

Jolene Jerard and Salim Mohamed Nasir (Eds.), Resilience and Resolve: Communities Against Terrorism (London, England, UK: Imperial College Press, 2015), 180 pp., US $ 85.00 [Hardcover], ISBN: 978-1-78326-773-6.

The contributors to this volume examine the role of local communities in mitigating the threat of terrorism, with a focus on countering al Qaida-type Islamist terrorism. To achieve community resilience against terrorism, the contributors propose countering and deconstructing extremist ideologies, promoting religious harmony, and ensuring that state agencies that counter terrorism, such as law enforcement, are used in ways that promote community resilience.

 

Muhammad Tito Karnavian, Explaining Islamist Insurgencies: The Case of al-Jamaah al-Islamiyya and the Radicalisation of the Poso Conflict, 2000-2007 (London, England, UK: Imperial College Press, 2015), 304 pp., US $ 105.00 [Hardcover], ISBN: 978-1-78326-485-8.

This is an examination of how the process of Islamist radicalization might eventually result in al-Jamaah al-Islamiyyah-type terrorism through a case study of how such processes played out in the town of Poso, in Indonesia, during the year 2000 to 2007. The author focuses on the causal factors that play out in the radicalization process: disaffected persons, an enabling group, and its legitimizing ideology. What is especially important about this study, as the author concludes (and which this reviewer concurs), is its usefulness in providing a theoretical framework for policy interventions that could be applied (once adjusted to the local context) to regions that “have become targets of Islamist radicalization, such as conflict areas like Maluku (Ambon),,the southern Philippines as well as non-conflict areas like Java” (p. 238) as well as other areas around the world.

 

Erik Nemeth, Cultural Security: Evaluating the Power of Culture in International Affairs (London, England, UK: Imperial College Press, 2015), 312 pp., US $ 110.00 [Hardcover], ISBN: 978-1783265480.

With the widespread plunder, illicit sales, and destruction of cultural and historical antiquities by terrorist groups ranging from the Afghan Taliban to the Islamic State, this book’s examination of this aspect of ‘cultural security’ is of great importance. The volume is divided into three sections: the history of cultural plunder and destruction (including by the Nazis in the Second World War), measures to counter such illicit activities through intelligence, including monitoring art sales around the world, and incorporating the securing of such cultural property into states’ foreign policies.

 

Maria A. Ressa, From Bin Laden to Facebook: 10 Days of Abduction, 10 Years of Terrorism (London, England, UK: Imperial College Press, 2013), 308 pp., US $ 35.00 [Hardcover], ISBN: 978-1908979537.

An interesting account by a veteran journalist of the role of the Internet’s social networks in radicalizing adherents and mobilizing them to engage in al Qaida-type Islamist terrorism around the world, with a special focus on the Philippines and Indonesia.

 

Albrecht Schnabel and Rohan Gunaratna, (Eds.), Wars From Within: Understanding and Managing Insurgent Movements [Second Edition] (London, England, UK: Imperial College Press, 2015), 496 pp., US $ 145.00 [Hardcover], ISBN: 978-1-78326-556-5.

This is a revised and updated edition of the editors’ 2006 volume Understanding and Managing Insurgents Movements (published by Marshall Cavendish Academic, Singapore). Following an introductory overview of challenges presented by contemporary insurgencies, the chapters are divided into two parts: first, a classification of insurgencies as ethnic, religious, ideological, as well as a discussion of the Internet as a force multiplier for modern insurgencies; and second, case studies of insurgencies in the Balkans, India, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Lebanon (the case of Hizballah), as well as al Qaida as a global insurgency. In the concluding chapter, the editors discuss the challenges involved in addressing contemporary insurgencies.

 

Javier Argomaniz and Orla Lynch (Eds.) International Perspectives on Terrorist Victimisation: An Interdisciplinary Approach (New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015), 288 pp., US $ 100.00 [Hardcover], ISBN: 9781137347107.

The contributors to this volume examine the diverse experiences of victims of terrorism and the types of responses by governments to their plight. The plight of victimhood is complex, according to the book’s preface, because it involves “the interactivity at times between victims and perpetrators, the potential for counter-terrorism measures to create victims and a complex lifestyle relationship between being victimized and the potential for politicization, media intrusion and re-traumatisation” (p. viii). To examine these issues, the book is divided into three parts: victims’ experiences (e.g., in general and in the cases of the victims of the Spanish ETA’s violence and the traumas experienced by child soldiers in Sri Lanka); support for victims (e.g., providing financial compensation and public health treatment for victims of terrorism); and victims of counter-terrorism campaigns (e.g., the victimization of some Muslim youth in Western countries, the impact of drone attacks and suicide bombings on their respective Pakistani victims, and the consequences of targeted policing by the New York Police Department against the city’s Muslim communities).

 

Colin Wight, Rethinking Terrorism: Terrorism, Violence and the State (New York, NY: Palgrave/Macmillan Education, 2015), 272 pp., US $ 95.00 [Hardcover], US$35.00 [Paperback], ISBN: 978-0-230-57376-5.

This is a theoretical account of contemporary types of terrorism and their impact on the international system. The author, a Professor of Government and International Relations at the University of Sydney, Australia, was part of a group that developed the sub-discipline of “Critical Terrorism Studies.” This book, which is clearly written and well-reasoned, presents a comprehensive overview of the interplay between terrorism, here interpreted as a violent form of protest, and its state adversary. These issues are covered through an examination of the historical development of the modern state, types of violent and non-violent protest against the state, the nature of terrorism and state-terrorism, how terrorist actors justify their use of violence as a form of political activity, how terrorist groups are organized and the tactics they employ in their warfare, and the nature of international terrorism and the counterterrorism responses by the threatened governments. The final chapter, entitled “Rethinking Terrorism,” presents the author’s conclusions and includes a discussion of recent terrorist attacks, including the nature of the Islamic State (IS), which “stands as the archetypical Islamic terrorist group” (p. 225).

 

David L. Altheide, Terror Post-911 and the Media (New York, NY: Peter Lang Publishing, Inc., 2009), US $ 111.95 [Hardcover], US $ 37.95 [Paperback], ISBN 978-1-4331-0366-7.

This is an interesting discussion of the logic, rhetoric, and discourse revolving around the issue of terrorism and how to counter it, especially since 9/11. A central theme is that public discourse on terrorism tends to be “more associated with victimization and fear, even surpassing linkages with crime” even when evidence may point to a diminished threat. The book’s chapters examine the relation between terrorism and propaganda, the politics of fear and moral panic, the problem of evidence in demonstrating the supposed severity of the threat. A separate chapter examines similarities and differences in the way the April 1999 school shootings at Columbine and terrorism are covered by American media.

 

Josef Schrofl, Sean Michael Cox, and Thomas Pankratz (Eds.) Winning the Asymmetric War: Political, Social and Military Responses (New York, NY: Peter Lang Publishing, Inc., 2009), 366 pp., US $ 83.95 [Paperback], ISBN: 978-3631572498.

The contributors to this volume examine the nature of asymmetric war and the comprehensive responses required to defeat asymmetric actors. The book is divided into four chapters: a theoretical analysis of asymmetric warfare, including in the form of a terrorist insurgency; cases of asymmetric conflicts in Africa, al Qaeda as an asymmetric group; and strategies to counter asymmetric threats.

 

Lori J. Underwood (Eds.) The Root of All Evil? Religious Perspectives on Terrorism (New York, NY: Peter Lang Publishing, Inc., 2013), 153 pp., US $ 72.95 [Hardcover], ISBN: 978-1-4331-1929-3.

The contributors to this volume examine the question of whether a causal relationship between organized religions and terrorism exists as a way to ascertain if “removing adherence to religion” might ameliorate the problem of terrorism. These issues are discussed in cases such as the Islamic context of global Jihadism, confronting Buddhist terrorism, the Japanese cult Aum Shinrikyo, and Hinduism and terrorism. In the concluding chapter, the volume’s editor writes that while “looking at the world unreflectively and being willing to objectify others for the sake of sanctifying one’s own personal causes” is one of the explanations of terrorism, “that process is psychologically independent from any psychological attachment to organized religion.” (p. 143) As a result, organized religion should not necessarily be blamed for what terrorists do, “bend and twist [such] religions into a weapon” in their warfare (p. 143).

 

Laurie R. Blank and Gregory P. Noone, International Law and Armed Conflict: Fundamental Princples and Contemporary Challenges in the Law of War (New York, NY: Wolters Kluwer Law & Business, 2013), 736 pp., US $ 106.00 [Paperback], ISBN: 978-1454817727.

This comprehensive textbook on international law and armed conflict (also known as Law of Armed Conflict – LOAC) is divided into five parts: basic principles of LOAC and the nature and classification of armed conflict; the designation of combatants, civilians and the nature of their battlefield status in armed conflict; identifying legitimate targets and protected objects, including designating weapons and tactics in attacks; and training military judge advocates and ensuring accountability for violations of LOAC. As a textbook, each chapter is accompanied by questions for discussion.

 

Geoffrey S. Corn, Victor Hansen, Richard B. Jackson, Chris Jens, Erik Talbot Jensen, and James A. Schoettler, Jr. (Eds.), The Law of Armed Conflict: An Operational Approach (New York, NY: Wolters Kluwer Law & Business, 2012), 648 pp., US $ 205.00 [Hardcover], ISBN: 978-1454806905.

This textbook on international humanitarian law is crucial, according to the editors, “to the planning, execution, and critique of military operations”(p. xxv). The volume’s chapters cover topics such as the legal basis and principles governing the use of force in armed conflict; how combatants, civilians and other belligerents are covered by the law of armed conflict (LOAC); the application of LOAC in targeting, weapons use, and tactics; the treatment of “wounded and sick” under LOAC; detention under LOAC; applying LOAC to military occupation, termination of hostilities and transition to other types of post-conflict situations; the application of LOAC to naval warfare, including neutrality; LOAC and war crimes; and military command responsibility and compliance mechanisms under LOAC. Each chapter includes a series of study questions for further discussion.

 

Stephen Dycus, William C. Banks, Peter Raven-Hansen, and Stephen L. Vladeck (Eds.), Counterterrorism Law [Second Edition] (New York, NY: Wolters Kluwer Law & Business, 2012), 912 pp., US $ 209.00 [Hardcover], ISBN: 9780735598638.

This textbook presents a comprehensive and detailed overview of counterterrorism law within the larger field of national security law. The book is divided into eight parts: an introduction, authority and its limits in the war on terrorism, detecting terrorist threats, detaining and interrogating terrorist suspects, criminalizing terrorists, prosecuting terrorists and their supporters, applying counterterrorism law in homeland security, and applying “noncriminal sanctions” against terrorists and their supporters by means of public sanctions and launching lawsuits against terrorists and their supporters. The textbook’s chapters are accompanied by excerpted sections from relevant criminal codes and criminal cases, including notes and questions for discussion.

About the Reviewer: Dr. Joshua Sinai is the Book Reviews Editor of ‘Perspectives on Terrorism’. He can be reached at: [email protected].



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Perspectives on Terrorism is  a journal of the Terrorism Research Initiative and the Center for Terrorism and Security Studies

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