14_sinai_books

IV. Reviews

Counterterrorism Bookshelf:

36 Books on Terrorism & Counterterrorism-Related Subjects

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

Reviewed by Joshua Sinai

Neil Krishan Aggarwal, The Taliban’s Virtual Emirate: The Culture and Psychology of an Online Militant Community (New York, NY: Columbia University Press, 2016), 256 pages, US $ 60.00 [Hardcover], ISBN: 978-0-23117-426-8.

This study examines the dissemination via the Internet of psychological and cultural identity themes across Taliban texts in four languages: English, Arabic, Dari, and Urdu. The selected texts are then classified according to five domains: channels of communication, leadership hierarchy, identity of members, organizational ideology, and targeted enemies. Following the introductory chapter on the Taliban’s virtual emirate’s channels of communication, this methodological approach is applied to cover topics in the virtual emirate such as Mullah Omar’s leadership, advocacy of jihad, and approach to international relations. The author concludes that this methodological framework “can be applied to analyze other militant organizations that mobilize religious meanings to incite violence, such as Al Qaeda and the Islamic State.” (p. 147) The author is an assistant professor of clinical psychiatry at Columbia University.

Denise N. Baken and Ioannis Mantzikos, Al Qaeda: The Transformation of Terrorism in the Middle East and North Africa [PSI Guides to Terrorists, Insurgents, and Armed Groups, James J.F. Forest, Series Editor] (Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger/ABC-CLIO, LLC, 2015), 246 pages, US $ 26.00 [Hardcover], ISBN: 978-1-4408-2870-6.

This is a comprehensive examination of al Qaida during the period of 1989 to 2013—before it was eclipsed by the Islamic State as the most of the global jihadi terrorist groups. This account is guided by a series of research questions such as is there an “official tie” between al Qaida central and its worldwide adherents, is the Internet replacing al Qaida central in command and control, what is the cost to the international community in countering al Qaida, what measures can be used to effectively counter al Qaida, and what new trends are emerging to reshape al Qaida. To accomplish this purpose, the volume’s chapters examine al Qaida’s origins and ideology, funding, marketing and recruiting, the role of the Internet in ‘personalizing’ terrorism, Yemen and al Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), al Qaida in Iraq and Syria, and al Qaida in North Africa. The authors conclude that “Foreign fighters are the growth area of al Qaeda,” (p. 162) that intelligence and law enforcement are crucial instruments in countering al Qaida (p. 163) and that “’droning’ the leaders of al Qaeda will not eliminate the threat.” (p. 169) One might disagree, however, with the authors’ conclusion, that while “al Qaeda uses Islam as a tool to achieve its goals. We in the West are realistically hampered from having any semblance of trying to manipulate Islam to solve the terrorism problem,” (p. 172) since the root causes underlying al Qaida’s insurgency are much more complicated than a matter of merely ‘enlightening’ their adherents on the merits of a ‘true’ Islam. Denis Baken is a retired U.S. Army Colonel with a PhD in Biodefense studies. Ioannis Mantzikos, at the time of the book’s writing was a doctoral candidate at the University of the Free State in South Africa.

Ian Barnes with Malise Ruthven, Crossroads of War: A Historical Atlas of the Middle East (Cambridge, MA: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2014), 224 pages, US $ 35.00 [Hardcover], ISBN: 978-0-674-59849-2.

This is a comprehensive historical atlas of the Middle East consisting of full-color maps that are accompanied by commentary that explain and visualize the origins and evolution of the conflicts that characterize the region in contemporary times. Beginning with an introductory overview and a chapter on the geography of the Middle East, the volume’s chapters cover the region’s conflicts beginning in ancient times, the Biblical interlude, the European intervention in the 18th century, the period of the First World War, and the interwar years leading to the Second World War. The final part covers the various Arab-Israeli Wars, religious and ethnic regional fault lines, the 1990-1991 and 2003-2011 Gulf Wars and the Arab Spring. Ian Barnes is Emeritus Chair in the Department of History and International Studies at the University of Derby, UK. Malise Ruthven is a former editor with the BBC Arabic Service and World Service in London.

David M. Blum and J. Edward Conway (Eds.), Counterterrorism and Threat Finance Analysis During Wartime (Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2015), 226 pages, US $ 85.00 [Hardcover], ISBN: 978-0-7391-8043-3.

This edited volume is an important contribution to the literature on countering terrorist financing from an operational military- and intelligence-based counterterrorism approach. As explained in the introductory chapter by J. Edward Conway, the book’s co-editor, “This volume traces what works and what does not when counter threat finance analysis transitions from spreadsheets, slide presentations and link charts to operations on the battlefield across Iraq and Afghanistan.” (p. 2) As such, it is intended to serve as an overview and tool kit of methodologies that analysts can use in their countering the financing of terrorism (CFT) work, whether at military or civilian agencies. The volume is informally divided into four parts, with each discussing a different aspect of this topic. The first part discusses the bureaucratic and strategic challenges facing an analyst in an operational military environment. Its chapters discuss the bureaucratic challenges inherent in intelligence collection (including CFT) and the frictions between CFT within the framework of counterinsurgency. The second part focuses on “problem setting,” which is described as the designing the methodologies to counter the threat finance environment. Its chapters discuss the issues involved in estimating the cost of terrorist operations, including salary payments and financing their supply chain. The third part focuses on the planning phase of CFT operations, which is termed the “problem solving” phase. Its chapters discuss the utilization of methodologies and tools such as social network analysis (SNA), Influence Network Modeling (INM), and Multi-Objective Decision Analysis (MODA) to create databases about a terrorist group’s finances and financial networks. The fourth and final part synthesizes the previous sections with a discussion of the role of CFT in an overall military counterterrorism campaign’s components of “manhunting, of financial sanctions like E.O. 13224, as well as other options like information operations, human intelligence source recruitment, and in some cases, the tough decision to realize when doing nothing might be the best call.” (p. 12) The volume’s editors and contributors had worked on CFT issues while serving in the U.S. military or as civilians in a supporting capacity.

Sumantra Bose, Contested Lands: Israel-Palestine, Kashmir, Bosnia, Cyprus, and Sri Lanka (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2007), 336 pages, US $ 22.00 [Paperback], ISBN: 978-0-674-04645-0.

This is an insightful and balanced account of how supposedly intractable and largely internal conflicts over sovereignty can be resolved through various conflict resolution methods such as third-party intervention. The types of third-party engagement can range, the author explains, from “low-key facilitation to direct intervention.” (p. 3) The author’s conceptual framework is then applied to the cases of Sri Lanka, Cyprus, Bosnia, Kashmir, and Israel and Palestine. In this cases, the identity of the third-parties included Norway (Sri Lanka), United Nations (Cyprus), United States (Israel and Palestine), with American leverage used in Bosnia. In the Kashmir conflict, however, it has remained unresolved because, as the author points out, “The UN long ago became irrelevant to the resolution of the Kashmir dispute.” (p. 200) For long-term conflict resolution to take hold, the author adds, a “relatively fast track” is required because “the prospects of peace are not necessarily well served by the incremental approach that emphasizes gradual, piecemeal progress and prioritizes less contentious issues over the more fundamental issues that divide the antagonists.” (p. 302) The author is Professor of International and Comparative Politics at the London School of Economics and Political Science.

Erica Chenoweth and Maria J. Stephan, Why Civil Resistance Works: The Strategic Logic of Nonviolent Conflict (New York, NY: Columbia University Press, 2013), 320 pages, US $ 65.00[Hardcover], US $ 26.00 [Paperback], ISBN: 978-0-231-15683-7.

This is an account of the factors required for nonviolent resistance campaigns to succeed and the reasons why they are likely to be more effective than terrorism in achieving a dissident movement’s objectives. As the authors write, “Our central argument is that nonviolent campaigns have a participation advantage over violent insurgencies, which is an important factor in determining campaign outcomes.” (p. 10) The level of participation in such opposition movements is a key factor, the authors find, because “Higher levels of participation contribute to a number of mechanisms necessary for success, including enhanced resilience, high probabilities of tactical innovation, expanded civic disruption (thereby raising the costs to the regime of maintaining the status quo), and loyalty shifts involving the opponent’s erstwhile supporters, including members of the security forces.” (p. 10) This conceptual framework is then applied to examining examples where nonviolent civil resistance succeeded in the cases of the Iranian Revolution (1977-1979), the first Palestinian intifada (1987-1992), and the Philippine People Power Movement (1983-1986), and a case where it failed, the Burmese uprising (1988-1990) Although one may argue that the Palestinian intifada was not entirely ‘nonviolent’ and that it was its violent nature that actually produced a ‘hurting stalemate’ that forced Israel to use conciliation to address the conflict’s root causes – the authors’ general argument is well grounded. An Epilogue provides an update on the effectiveness of Arab Spring’s nonviolent resistance campaign in overthrowing several Arab governments in Egypt and Tunisia. Numerous tables and figures provide data collected by the authors that provide empirical evidence for the validity of their conceptual framework. Dr. Chenoweth is Professor and Associate Dean for Research at the Josef Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver. Dr. Stephan is a senior policy fellow at the U.S. Institute of Peace and a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, both in Washington, DC.

Colin P. Clarke, Terrorism, Inc.: The Financing of Terrorism, Insurgency, and Irregular Warfare (Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger/Praeger Security International/ABC-CLIO, LLC, 2015), 289 pages, US $ 60.00 [Hardcover], ISBN: 978-1-4408-3103-4.

This is an important account of how terrorist groups fund their operational and organizational capabilities and the counter measures required to disrupt and dismantle their activities and infrastructure. The introductory chapter presents the author’s analytical framework which discusses two types of economies used by terrorist groups to fund their activities. These consist of a ‘gray economy,’ “a combination of licit and illicit activities” used by terrorist and insurgent groups, which focuses on “diaspora support, charities, fraud, legal businesses, and money laundering,” (p. 3) and a ‘dark economy,’ consisting of kidnapping for ransom (KFR), armed robbery and theft, smuggling, trafficking and counterfeiting, extortion and protection payments, and external state support. Also valuable is the author’s discussion of the operational capabilities that characterize effective terrorist groups, which include weapons, intelligence, sanctuary, and training, as well as the requirements for effective organizational capabilities in terms of leadership, ideology, human resources and recruitment, and media, public relations, propaganda, and publicity. Thus, an effective countering the financing of terrorism (CFT) campaign is intended to disrupt and dismantle their financial component which will impact the effectiveness of a group’s overall operational and organizational capabilities. This conceptual framework is then applied to assessing how the Provisional Irish Republican Army (PIRA), the Sri Lankan Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), the Lebanese Hizballah, the Palestinian Hamas, the Afghan Taliban, al Qaida, and the Islamic State (of Syria and Iraq), use the gray and dark economies to fund their terrorist activities. The concluding chapter discusses the components of effective counter measures as well as issues for future study, such as emerging trends, such as the increasing use of virtual currencies and Bitcoin. The author is an Associate Political Scientist at the RAND Corporation.

Patrick Cockburn, The Age of Jihad: Islamic State and the Great War for the Middle East (New York, NY: Verso, 2016), 464 pages, US $ 29.95 [Hardcover], ISBN: 978-1-78478-449-2.

This well-written account charts the violent civil wars in countries such as Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and Libya through the author’s diaries and writings produced between 2001 and 2015. As a result, the book’s numerous chapters are relatively short. Egypt is not covered, the author explains, because “it is not at war,” while being involved in a brutal conflict with “growing guerrilla violence.” (p. 5) The author concludes that “The demons released by this age of chaos and war in the Middle East have become an unstoppable force.” (p. 434) The author is a Middle East correspondent for the London-based Independent newspaper, and has written several award-winning books.

Ariel Colonomos [Translated by Gregory Elliott], Selling the Future: The Perils of Predicting Global Politics (New York, NY: Oxford University Press/Hurst Publishers, 2016), 224 pages, US $ 37.50 [Hardcover], ISBN: 978-0-19060-364-9.

This is an interesting account of what the author terms “the marketplace of ideas about the future” and the experts who produce scenarios, predictions and credit ratings about countries’ political and financial stabilities. The author begins his account by defining prediction as intended to “inform us about the occurrence of a future event by situating it in both space and time.” (p. 6) Forecasting, on the other hand, is a “broader category” that “subsumes the various registers of analysis of possible futures (predictions, constructing scenarios, projections, diagnoses, etc.).” (p. 6) It is important to understand “the fabric of the world’s possible futures,” the author writes, because it “informs us about how we react to political change.” (p. 13) The problem with the way “wonks,” scholars and pundits at various research institutes engage in predicting global political futures, the author argues, is that their predictions tend to confirm the policies of the establishments that support them and underplay in their warning agendas significant issues such as the future of democracy or epidemics around the world in favor of security, defense, and terrorism topics (p. 115), thereby resisting “the desire to know, ultimately showing its ambivalence. We protect this covered secret in its unknown state and do not want to see it unveiled.” (p. 194) However, there are numerous early warning methodologies that are not discussed in this account that attempt to predict the imminence of humanitarian disasters, the emergence of new weak and failed states, and forecast likely terrorist warfare (e.g., whether a terrorist groups is likely to embark on a highly destructive weapons of mass destruction warfare), making this account incomplete and polemical. The author is a Senior Research Fellow at the National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) and a Research Professor at CERI-Sciences Po in Paris, France.

James M. Dubik, Just War Reconsidered: Strategy, Ethics, and Theory (Lexington, KY: University Press of Kentucky, 2016), 238 pages, US $ 50.00 [Hardcover], ISBN: 978-0-8131-6829-6.

This is an insightful and important argument by a retired U.S. Army Lieutenant General and academic “for a new addition to the jus in bello component of just war theory.” (p. 3) The term jus in bello concerns whether a war is being conducted justly. The “current theory is deficient,” the author argues, because “It omits a major part of the conduct of war” – which involves more than the tactical component of fighting.” (p. 3) As the author explains, “War is also conducted at the strategic level, the level at which senior political and military leaders set war aims, identify strategies and policies, approve the military and nonmilitary campaigns necessary to achieve those war aims, and establish the coordinative bodies necessary to translate plans into actions and adapt as the vagaries of war unfold. This strategic level of war has a direct effect on how a war is fought, how long it lasts, and whether the lives used and risked are used well and risked appropriately. Yet few—if any—accounts of jus in bello include it.” (pp. 3-4)

Following a discussion of the effectiveness, and, at times, lack of effectiveness, in the way American military campaigns were waged at the strategic level in the American civil war and in the recent wars in Afghanistan and Iraq (with the latter wars drawing on the author’s command-level involvement in waging those wars), his recommendations for conducting wars justly are worth noting. These consist of seven principals: 1) making the best decisions possible concerning war aims and strategies, 2) adapting initial decisions as the dynamics of war unfold, 3) raising and allocating forces, resources, and funds required to achieve those aims, 4) engaging in adequate diplomacy, 5) ensuring the legitimacy of the war, including maintaining public support, 6) getting the military and nonmilitary agencies in government to work in a coordinated fashion to executive strategies and polices that attain war aims, and 7) establishing mechanisms that facilitate effective dialogue, decision making, action and adaptation to address changing circumstances. (pp. 174-175) The author concludes that these principals provide to just war theory “not a final answer, but another step toward a more complete understanding of jus in bello.” (p. 177) To this one can add that these seven principals are also especially relevant to the formulation of “just” and effective combating terrorism campaigns. Lieutenant General James Dubik, US Army (Retired), is Professor of the Practice and Director of Teaching at Georgetown University’s Security Studies Program, Washington, DC.

John B. Dunlop, The Moscow Bombings of September 1999: Examinations of Russian Terrorist Attacks at the Onset of Vladimir Putin’s Rule [Second Edition] (Stuttgart, Germany: Ibiden-Verlag/Distributed by Columbia University Press, 2014), 290 pages, US $ 46.00 [Paperback], ISBN: 978-3-8382-0608-0.

An authoritative and detailed account by an academic expert on Russia of the terrorist-related events from May to September 1999 that ultimately led to Russia’s invasion of Chechnya. This was highlighted by two supposedly terrorist bombings in Moscow on September 9 and 13, 1999, in which 224 people were killed, which were used as the justification for Russia’s intervention in Chechnya. In the postscript to the book’s 2014 edition, the author writes that “the available evidence points to a crucial role [in organizing the two terrorist bombings] having been played by the Russian special services….It seems unlikely that General Nikolai Patrushev would have authorized such risky acts without having received some form of approval from his superior, Vladimir Putin.” (p. 260) The author is a Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace at Stanford University.

Reese Erlich, Inside Syria: The Backstory of Their Civil War and What the World Can Expect (Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 2016), 331 pages, US $18.00 [Paperback], ISBN: 978-1-63388-235-5.

An interesting account by a veteran American journalist, with first-hand reporting from Syria and other Middle Eastern countries, of the Syrian civil war. To provide a wider context for understanding current developments, the book’s chapters cover topics such as the history of Syria from the 19th century until 1946 when it gained independence, the period of 1947 to 2011, which the author terms as “wars and coups – then the Assads arrive” (with Assad family rule over the country beginning in 1971), and the outbreak of the civil war in 2011. Readers will benefit from the author’s portrayal of the various players in the civil war, beginning with the factions that support Assad; why Iran backs the Syrian government; the roles of the Kurds, al Qaida and the Islamic State (IS) in the civil war; the interplay between Israel, the Palestinians, and Syria, and the roles of the United States, Russia and other foreign powers in the civil war. In the Epilogue, the author writes that “For his part, Assad stays in power as the lesser evil, not because of popular support for his policies. Many Alawites, Shia Muslims, Christians, and other Syrians back him in hopes he can defeat the extremist threat.” (p. 249)

Christopher Ford and Amichai Cohen (Eds.), Rethinking the Law of Armed Conflict in an Age of Terrorism (Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2012), 332 pages, US $ 105.00 [Hardcover], ISBN: 978-0-7391-6653-6.

The contributors to this edited volume utilize multidisciplinary approaches to examine the issues involved in the application of international law in the aftermath of 9/11 to the challenges presented by non-state actors such as terrorist groups as they have played out in the counterterrorism experiences of the United States, Israel, and Colombia. Specific issues are also examined, such as guerrilla-combatants and the First Additional Protocol to the Geneva Convention, problems inherent in contemporary humanitarian law, the Israeli experience in targeted killings, challenges presented by the U.S.’s Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), terrorism-related adjudication, problems and contradictions in the Goldstone Report on the Israeli military campaign against Hamas in Gaza in 2008-09, problems in applying human rights law in responding to terrorism, and future trends in the law of armed conflict (LOAC). Dr. Ford is senior fellow and Director of the Center for Technology and Global Security at the Hudson Institute, Washington, DC, and Dr. Cohen is senior lecturer with the faculty of law at Ono Academic College in Israel.

James J.F. Forest (Ed.), Essentials of Counterterrorism (Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger/Praeger Security International/ABC-CLIO, LLC, 2015), 456 pages, US $ 73.00 [Hardcover], US $ 44.00 [Paperback], ISBN: 978-1-4408-3283-3.

This textbook presents a comprehensive approach to analyzing the components of effective counterterrorism (CT). As discussed by James Forest, the volume’s editor (and this journal’s co-editor), this textbook’s objective is “to help educate future counterterrorism professionals enrolled in university courses and training programs.” (p. ix) This is accomplished through the volume’s contributors who are a mix of academics and [former] government practitioners. The textbook is divided into three parts, beginning with Dr. Forest’s introductory chapter, which presents an overview of counterterrorism studies, including drawing lessons from the history of counterterrorism over the years. In what is intended as the textbook’s chapters’ organizing topical structure, Dr. Forest discusses the seven components of effective counterterrorism which need to be implemented in an integrated manner: military, intelligence, diplomacy, information and public diplomacy, economics, financial, and law enforcement. In his concluding section, he notes that another important component of counterterrorism is the capability to bring about terrorists’ disengagement from terrorism as well as an overall termination of a terrorist group’s activities.

This framework is then applied in the textbook’s first part, on policy and strategy in counterterrorism (with chapters on CT in liberal democracies, the geographic dimension of CT, combating state sponsors of terrorism, countering terrorist finance, and countering organized criminal networks and terrorism). The second part, on CT’s tactical and operational dimensions, includes chapters on the role of intelligence in CT, the U.S. Government’s CT’s research and development programs, and employing civil-military relations to deny terrorists sanctuary. The third part presents case studies on CT, with chapters on countering terrorism in Peru, Colombia, Italy and the Red Brigades, West Germany’s Red Army Faction, the role of democratization in reducing the appeal of extremist groups in the Middle East and North Africa following the Arab Spring, India’s response to terrorism in Kashmir, the U.S. CT campaign to capture Khalid Sheikh Mohammad (al Qaida’s operational mastermind), and Spain’s CT campaign against its domestic jihadists.

With these chapters generally well-informed, this reviewer questions the claim by Francesco Cavatorta, the author of the chapter on democratization in reducing extremism in the Middle East and North Africa, that “The inability of the United States and Europe to accept Islamist parties and movements thus far as potential democratic actors has fundamentally undermined the international efforts to encourage democracy,” (p. 351) when, in fact, it is the local elites that are more secular who refuse to accept their strict religious authoritarianism, as was the case with the overthrow of Mohammed Morsi’s government in Egypt. The textbook is sufficiently comprehensive in its scope, but it could have benefited from additional chapters on important CT cases, such as the cases of Israel and the Palestinians, Britain and its jihadi homegrown terrorists, and Russia and the Islamist insurgency in Chechnya. Finally, although this topic is addressed in the editor’s introductory chapter, a separate chapter on countering terrorism on the Internet should have been included because of its critical utilization by terrorist groups in their activities and warfare. The editor is Professor and Director of Security Studies at the University of Massachusetts Lowell and a Senior Fellow at the Joint Special Operations University.

Abdelmajid Hannoum, Violent Modernity: France in Algeria (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2010), 272 pages, US $ 19.95 [Paperback], ISBN: 978-0-674-05328-1.

This book is about what the author argues have been during and after the colonial age “the violent processes of political modernity in Algeria and the violent practices—physical, textual, and symbolic—that have been inflicted on Algeria and its people.” (p. 10) The author adds that such violence by the French colonial rulers, which “was both physical and textual,” continued “to endure in [Algeria’s] post-independence era,” and “is highlighted through examples that show how the processes of producing knowledge, undertaken by the [French] army in the midst of conquests, were violent.” (p. 14) In the Epilogue the author concludes that “The culture of colonial modernity continues to generate events in the present, other transformations notwithstanding.” (p. 226) While not everyone will agree with such an interpretation of the cultural and intellectual impact of the French intervention in Algeria, the author’s understanding of the nature of the resistance to Western secular influences by Muslim populations is worth noting. The author teaches anthropology and African Studies at the University of Kansas.

Christina Hellmich and Andreas Behnke (Eds.), Knowing Al-Qaeda: The Epistemology of Terrorism (New York, NY: Routledge, 2012), 192 pages, US $ 119.96 [Hardcover], US $ 43.96 [Paperback], ISBN: 978-1-4094-2366-9.

As explained by the volume’s editors, its contributors attempt to answer the following questions: “how is al-Qaeda known? What version of it emerges as a result of various discursive processes of trying to make sense of out what appeared to be a senseless act and out of the terrorist campaign that followed it, and what are the political consequences of these different interpretations of what al-Qaeda is?” (p. 2) To examine these issues, including the implications of al Qaida’s 9/11 attacks, the contributors apply Jacques Derrida’s definition of such an ‘event’ “as an act of historic proportions that resists immediate subsumption under a given structure of meaning, law, or truth…[because] This ‘meaninglessness’ of 9/11 does not stem from any metaphysical or transcendental quality of the act itself. Rather, it emanates from the difficulty, if not impossibility of making sense of it by means of traditional Western concepts of politics and the Political.” (p. 2) With additional statements such as by Andreas Behnke, the volume’s co-editor, in his chapter on “Fear as Sovereign Strategy and the Popular Tactics of Laughter,” that “the experience of ‘terror’ is therefore tied to the emulation of fear-inducing strategies by the state that wrests the governmentality of fear from the terrorists and reinstates it under the auspices of the extant sovereign,” (p. 101) and with Alan Cromartie writing in the “Afterword: Knowing Knowing al-Qaeda” that “The idea that al-Qaeda is a pathology – that it defies a rational reconstruction – has handed the problem over to closed subdisciplines of the type that are examined in these pages,” (p. 171) readers should judge for themselves whether they accept such alternative interpretations of reality about al Qaida and its attacks. At the time of this book’s publication, both co-editors were Lecturers in the Department of Politics at the University of Reading, UK.

Seymour M. Hersh, The Killing of Osama Bin Laden (New York, NY: Verso, 2016), 144 pages, US $ 15.96 [Hardcover], ISBN: 978-1-78478-436-2.

A controversial account by a prominent American investigative journalist in which he argues, among other claims, that in obtaining the necessary intelligence to locate and kill Usama bin Laden on May 2, 2011, Pakistani intelligence had long known of bin Laden’s hideout in Abbottabad and that it was a former senior Pakistani intelligence officer who had betrayed this secret to the CIA, as opposed to White House claims that his whereabouts were revealed by covertly tracking his couriers. (p. 15) In the book’s second half, the author critiques the contradictory nature of U.S. policy towards toppling the Assad regime and maintaining its relations with Turkey.

Bruce Hoffman and Anders Strindberg (Eds.), Terrorism and Beyond: A 21st Century Perspective [Routledge Library Editions: Terrorism and Insurgency, Volume 6] (New York, NY: Routledge, 2015), 118 pages, US $ 100.00 [Hardcover], US $ 36.00 [Paperback], ISBN: 978-1-138-90302-9.

This book is the published proceedings of a conference held in April 2000 that was co-organized by the Oklahoma City National Memorial Institute for the Prevention of Terrorism (MIPT) and the RAND Corporation. The conference’s purpose was to review past and future trends in terrorism, as they were perceived at the time. The presented papers were then published in 2001 as a special issue of the journal Studies in Conflict & Terrorism, which is edited by Bruce Hoffman, one of this volume’s co-editors. This volume was re-issued in 2015 as part of the publisher’s re-issuance of important books that have been published over the past several decades. As such, the papers published in this volume are valuable in shedding light on what were considered to be current and future trends in terrorist warfare at the time. The contributors to this volume (which lacks a table of contents) include Brian Michael Jenkins (“Terrorism and Beyond: a 21st Century Perspective”), Martha Crenshaw (“Counterterrorism Policy and the Political Process), Ami Pedahzur (“Struggling with the Challenge of Right-Wing Extremism and Terrorism within Democratic Boundaries: A Comparative Analysis”), Jean-Francois Mayer (“Cults, Violence and Religious Terrorism: An International Perspective”), Alison Jamieson (“Transnational Organized Crime: A European Perspective”), John V. Parachini (“Comparing Motives and Outcomes of Mass Casualty Terrorism Involving Conventional and Unconventional Weapons”), David Veness“ (“Terrorism and Counterterrorism: An International Perspective”), and Bruce Hoffman (“Change and Continuity in Terrorism”).

Jennifer Jefferis, Hamas: Terrorism, Governance, and Its Future in Middle East Politics (Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger/Praeger Security International/ABC-CLIO, LLC, 2016), 209 pages, US $ 75.00 [Hardcover], ISBN: 978-1-4408-3902-3.

This is a comprehensive and balanced account of the origins and evolution of the Palestinian Hamas, which today governs the Gaza Strip and is a major primary resistance movement in the regions where the Palestinian Authority governs in the West Bank. The book’s chapters cover topics such as its historical origins as a branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, its past and current leaders, its Islamist ideology, its political engagement in either joining or boycotting Palestinian politics (including its participation and victory in the 2006 elections), the nature of its governance in the Gaza Strip, the structure of its military arm and its battles with Israel, and its Middle Eastern allies and adversaries (such as Jordan, Qatar, Egypt, Syria and Iran). The concluding chapter discusses future trends affecting Hamas. The author rightfully concludes that “It is only through seeing Hamas as a three-dimensional organization full of contradictions and possibilities that we put ourselves in a position to deal effectively with…[its] impact.” (p. 147) The author is an Associate Professor at the Near East and South Asia Center for Strategic Studies at the National Defense University in Washington, DC.

Osamah F. Khalil, America’s Dream Palace: Middle East Expertise and the Rise of the National Security State (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2016), 440 pages, US $ 35.00 [Hardcover], ISBN: 978-0-67497157-8.

This is a polemical account of what the author terms “the relationship between American power and the production of knowledge and expertise over the past century” in which the study of the Middle East has been “constructed and reified” by “scholars, policymakers, and governmental and nongovernmental institutions” that have been funded to reflect and advance U.S. foreign policy and national security interests in the Middle East. (p. 3) To demonstrate his thesis, the author examines how the American foreign policy establishment has supported writings and publications about the Middle East from 1917 to the current period, including what he describes as establishing “Cold War Universities” in the Middle East during the period of 1922 to 1962. Of particular interest to terrorism and counterterrorism studies is the author’s discussion, which is superficial and incomplete, of what he terms the “rise of terrorism studies” in the aftermath of the June 1967 Six Day War, in which the Nixon Administration funded studies and conferences on terrorism that promoted “Washington’s burgeoning counterterrorism relationship with Israel…on display at the Jonathan Institute’s July 1979 conference on terrorism.” (p. 228) In a section on “Terror Studies and 9/11,” the author discusses the U.S. Government’s funding of research on these issues, including the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) funding, beginning in 2003, of twelve university-based “centers of excellence” on terrorism and counterterrorism studies, including the University of Maryland’s START program. (p. 279) The post 9/11 account, as well, is superficial and does not demonstrate an acute understanding of the nature of studies carried out by academic institutions and research institutes on these issues. In the book’s Epilogue, the author discusses the state of Middle East studies in the aftermath of the Arab Spring. The author is Assistant Professor of U.S. and Middle East History at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University.

Magdalena Kirchner, Why States Rebel: Understanding State Sponsorship of Terrorism (Toronto, ON, Canada: Barbara Budrich Publishers/Distributed by Columbia University Press, 2016), 280 pages, US $ 58.00 [Paperback], ISBN: 978-3-8474-0641-9.

This is an excellent and conceptually innovative examination of the role of state sponsorship of terrorism within the larger context of states’ third party intervention (TPI) in other nations’ conflicts, including those that are intrastate or interstate. Several research questions guide the study, such as the conditions under which governments decide to support terrorist organizations, how such governments manage their sponsorship of terrorist groups, “particularly in comparison to interstate alliance politics,” (p. 30) and “How can variations in sponsorship policy be explained?” (p. 237) To accomplish this research design, the book’s chapters cover topics such as the state of research on these issues; defining state sponsorship of terrorism within the context of ‘realist’ and ‘neoclassical realist’ alliance theories; and applying independent (i.e., systemic incentives for alliance behavior), conditional (i.e., domestic politics), and dependent (sponsorship commitment in terms of hosting, military support, financial support, and endorsement) variables to explain how the phenomenon of state sponsorship of terrorism plays out. This conceptual framework is then applied to a series of case studies on Syria’s third party intervention in the cases of Syria’s relations with the Palestinian Fatah (from 1964 to 1976), Syria’s relations with Turkey vis-a-vis the Kurdish PKK (from 1978 to 1998), and Syria’s policy toward the Lebanese Hizballah from 1989 to 2006. The concluding chapter presents the author’s findings, which are also applied to the three case studies, regarding the conditions for formation of sponsorship, the patterns of sponsorship, theoretical implications, avenues for further research, and policy implications. Also valuable are the numerous diagrams and schematics that illustrate the conceptual framework. The author is a Transatlantic Post-Doc Fellow for International Relations and Security, German Institute for International and Security Affairs, Berlin.

Rafael Leonisio, Fernando Molina and Diego Muro (Eds.), ETA’s Terrorist Campaign: From Violence to Politics, 1968-2015 (New York, NY: Routledge, 2016), 254 pages, US $ 145.00 [Hardcover], ISBN: 978-1-138-10014-5.

The contributors to this edited volume examine the rise and decline of the terrorist group ETA (Basque Homeland and Freedom), which was founded in 1959 and conducted its terrorist campaign from 1968 until 2011, when it declared a unilateral cessation of hostilities. The contributors are Spanish academics with expertise on ETA, and come from the disciplines of history, political science, and sociology. The volume is divided into three parts: first, ETA and the Spanish state (the origins of ETA and its evolution up to 2015, ETA’s use of terrorism, and the Spanish government’s counter-terrorism (CT) campaign against it); second, the politics of fear that spills over from ETA’s use of terrorism and the government’s CT campaign; and, finally, what the editors term as the resulting “historical narratives and rituals that contributed to the production and reproduction of identity oppositions and war memories.” (p. 1) These general themes frame four research questions that are discussed throughout the volume: “Are democracies more able to deal with terrorism than autocracies?,” “Does terrorism ‘work’ in liberal societies?,” “When do terrorist groups end?,” and “What are the consequences of violence?.” (pages 2-10) As an academic study, some of the discussion tends to be highly theoretical, such as one of the concluding statements that “Terrorism continues to exist through its transformation into collective memory, which is established according to the usual hegemonic social framework (defined by Basque nationalism), making it a political tool that is just as effective in remembrance as when it was a political practice.” (p. 227) Nevertheless, there is much information and analysis in the volume’s discussion about ETA and the Spanish government’s CT campaign to recommend it as a contribution to our knowledge and understanding of these issues.

Ajit Maan, Counter-Terrorism: Narrative Strategies (Lanham, MD: University Press of America, Inc., 2015), 86 pages, US $ 53.00 [Hardcover], US $ 29.99 [Paperback], ISBN: 978-0-7618-6775-3.

This short book attempts to explain how the “persuasive powers of narrative” by terrorist groups such as al Qaida need to be countered with new and nuanced national narratives. Following a discussion of how such narratives are framed, the author concludes, with a focus on U.S. counterterrorism in particular, that to be effective “Our national narrative structure should not reflect singularity, but rather, co-existent multiplicity.” (p. 73)

Shiraz Maher, Salafi-Jihadism: The History of an Idea (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2016), 256 pages, US $ 29.95 [Hardcover], ISBN: 978-0-19065-112-1.

This is a comprehensive and informed intellectual history of the core concepts of Salafi-Jihadism – the extremist religio-ideology that has motivated terrorist groups such as al Qaida and the Islamic State (IS), although, as the author explains, both groups interpret and apply it differently in their governance and warfare. What is Salafi-Jihadism? As the author argues, it consists of five “essential and irreducible features”: tawhid (the unitary oneness of God), hakimyya (the rule of Allah; securing God’s sovereignty in the political system), al-wala’ wa-l-bara (“To love and hate for the sake of ‘Allah; loyalty and disavowal”), jihad (“to struggle or exert effort, although it has a legal meaning which relates to combat and fighting”), and takfir (“Excommunication of other Muslims, banishing them from the earth”).” (pp. xvii-xx, p. 14) Following the author’s introductory overview, the book’s chapters discuss these five features of Salafi-Jihadism and how they have played out in Islamic religio-ideological discourse over the past centuries, including in the current the post-9/11 period. Regarding future trends, the author concludes that “The Syrian civil war will continue to fuel further changes within the Salafi-Jihadi belief system over the coming years,” and will likely “incubate new phases” in its development. (p. 211)

While the author’s account of Salafi-Jihadism is sound, this book is marred by several assertions that appear overly sympathetic to such an extreme religious ideology. With the groups that espouse Salafi-Jihadism, such as al Qaida and IS repressing any manifestation of moderate Islamic practices and engaging in terrorist targeting of their own societies and the Western far enemies, it is surprising to read the author’s description of this extremist movement as “an extremely resilient soteriology [doctrine of salvation]. Despite domestic repression, civil war, and an international ‘War on Terror,’ it has endured and survived more than three decades of forceful repression.” (p. 211) Here, one may ask, which is the side that is repressing the other? Finally, while the author’s characterization of Salafi-Jihadism as “similar to totalitarian strains of political thinking” is correct, one might question his assertion that “its ascendancy in the post-modern world” can be attributed to the “liberal societies [erosion of] culture, customs, history, tradition and memory, replacing these with relativist mores. It is in these environments that nihilisms then arise.” (p. 26) Is the author implying that liberal societies’ promotion of democratic and religious pluralism, freedom of speech, and women’s equality, etc., are responsible for the emergence of such nihilistic and totalitarian religio-ideologies such as Salafi-Jihadism?

The author is a Senior Research Fellow at the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation (ICSR) at Kings College London, and teaches at Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD.

Jonathan Matusitz, Symbolism in Terrorism: Motivation, Communication, and Behavior (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2015), 354 pages, US $ 92.00 [Hardcover], US $ 46.00 [Paperback], ISBN: 978-1-4422-3578-6.

In this interesting and innovative textbook, the author examines terrorism from a “highly symbolic perspective,” in which “each chapter (1) isolates a specific dimension of symbolism in terrorism, (2) illustrates the contexts and processes that involve the main actors in terrorism, and (3) informs readers abut the symbolism of both and purposes and targets of terrorism.” (p. xi) More than forty areas of symbolism are examined in the volume, such as physical symbolism, linguistic symbolism, anthroposemiosis, the social construction of reality, rituals, myths, and symbolic interactionism. These are explained in chapters that cover topics such as what is symbolism, interpreting symbolism in terrorism, terrorism’s symbolic targets, the symbolic culture of terrorism, symbolic place and territory in terrorism, symbolism in religious terrorism, symbolism in Hindu, Sikh, Christian, Jewish, and Islamist terrorism, symbolism in suicide terrorism, symbolism of terrorist weapons, symbolism in female terrorism, ‘brand management’ in terrorism, semiotic analysis of terrorism, and symbolic terrorism on the Internet. As a textbook, the chapters include case studies to illustrate the topic and a summary. The author is associate professor in the Nicholson School or Communication at the University of Central Florida.

Sari Nusseibeh, What Is A Palestinian State Worth? (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2011), 256 pages, US $ 15.50 [Paperback], ISBN: 978-0-674-04873-7.

This is a well-reasoned argument by a leading politically moderate Palestinian academic of the need to come up with workable solutions to the seemingly intractable Israeli-Palestinian state. Following his account of the history of the conflict, from the perspective of a Palestinian, as a sensible optimist he concludes that “while a two-state solution now seems impossible on practical grounds, it still makes sense to say it is possible in theory, with the gap between theory and practice being any unexpected combination of new decisions and actions, regional or worldwide, that would make what now seems impossible a reality.” (p. 218) The author is the President of Al-Quds University in Jerusalem.

Hermia Oliver, The International Anarchist Movement in Late Victorian London [Routledge Library Editions: Terrorism and Insurgency, Volume 7] (New York, NY: Croom Helm/St. Martin’s Press, 1983/Routledge, 2015), 188 pages, US $100.00 [Hardcover], US $ 36.00 [Paperback], ISBN: 978-1-138-89970-4.

With anarchism considered by David Rapoport to constitute the first historical wave of modern terrorism, this volume is an important contribution to the literature on the international anarchist movement’s ideology, leaders, and activities in London, beginning in the early 1880s. The volume’s chapters discuss topics such as the primary London anarchist groups, their “propaganda by the deed” activities, their political journals, and leading figures. One of the author’s conclusions is that “the anarchists failed to achieve working-class unity, not only because of rival socialists and sectarian differences, but precisely because they opposed all organization.” (p. 153)

Peter A. Olsson, The Making of a Homegrown Terrorist: Brainwashing Rebels in Search of a Cause (Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger/ABC-CLIO, LLC, 2014), 198 pages, US $ 37.00 [Hardcover], ISBN: 978-1-4408-3101-0.

In this book, the author, a retired psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, applies his experience in working with individuals with disordered personalities to analyze the pathways of individuals in Western countries, especially the U.S., into becoming homegrown violent extremists. It is a highly insightful analysis. It begins with an overview of the psychological characteristics of the types of groups and leaders that recruit such individuals, which is similar to those that exploitive-destructive cults use to “actively seek to alienate all their members from potential moderating influences found in healthy modern families, communities, and churches of origin.” (p. 7) In such cult-like terrorist groups, the author observes, “The destructive cult leader becomes a father/God/prophet himself.” (p. 7) The author is also insightful when he notes that many of the individuals who join such destructive cults/terrorist groups are what are termed “in-betweeners” – persons who are vulnerable “to seduction by an exploitive cult….They are often lonely and are in life transitions.” (p. 10) This psychological framework is then applied to examining how they play out in detailed case histories of a spectrum of homegrown terrorists. These include, as jihadists, Adam Gadahn, John Walker Lindh, Nidal Hasan, Jose Padilla, Richard Reid, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab; as far right-wing extremists and other fringes such as Timothy McVeigh and Ted Kaczynski; and as far-left extremists such as Bill Ayers and his Weather Underground.

Various recruiting mechanisms are also discussed, such as the Internet’s extremist websites and extremist prison chaplains. The Appendices include a useful timeline of homegrown terrorist activities and a glossary of key concepts and definitions.

Shane O’Mara, Why Torture Doesn’t Work: The Neuroscience of Interrogation (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2015), 336 pages, US $ 29.95 [Hardcover], ISBN: 978-0-674-74390-8.

This is an interesting and well-reasoned account of why the torture of prisoners to elicit information, particularly in the case of suspected terrorists, should be banned because it is ineffective. As the author writes, “The empirical reality is this: the intelligence obtained through torture is so paltry, the signal-to-noise ratio so low, that proponents of torturing detainees are left with an indefensible case when the pro-torture case is examined…against other, effective, noncoercive methods.” (p. 2) This argument is advanced by examining types of torture such as technology to detect deception, the impact of stress and pain on the brain, and drowning, cooling, heating, and starving the brain. In his conclusion, the author writes that “I will not pretend that there is an easy solution available for eliciting reliable, truthful information from captives. Rather, I am making the obvious point that this is an area that experimental social psychology can address quickly and readily…” (p. 265) The author is Professor of Experimental Brain Research at Trinity College, Dublin, and Director of the Trinity College Institute of Neuroscience.

Joshua Partlow, A Kingdom of Their Own: The Family Karzai and the Afghan Disaster (New York, NY: Alfred A. Knopf, 2016), 432 pages, US $ 30.00 [Hardcover], ISBN: 978-0-3079-6264-5.

This is an excellent and detailed account by a former Washington Post Kabul bureau chief of the Karzai family who had dominated Afghanistan’s political life for some 10 years, with Hamid Karzai serving as the country’s President from December 2004 to the end of September 2014. The significance of the Karzai family, the author explains, is that their rise and fall represent the deterioration of Afghanistan, as well. As he writes, “The president and his brothers began as symbols of a new Afghanistan: moderate, educated, fluent in East and West – the antithesis of the brutish and backward Taliban regime, which blew up Buddha statues and banned kids from flying kites.” (p. 8) With Hamid Karzai “celebrated around the world as a unifier and peacemaker,” by 2011 “the Karzai name had become shorthand for corruption, greed, and a bewildering rage at America. His family had descended into deadly feuds and scrambles for money….President Karzai’s relations with U.S. diplomats and soldiers amounted to little but distrust and traded insults.” (pp. 8-9)

Edwy Plenel [Translated by David Fernbach], For the Muslims: Islamophobia in France (New York, NY: Verso, 2016), 112 pages, US $ 10.46 [Paperback], ISBN: 978-1-78478-486-7.

This is a plea by a prominent French journalist of the need during this especially turbulent period in France “to oppose instances of Islamophobic, racist, xenophobic violence case by case. We must counter it with a competing imaginary, a creative and mobilizing one that uplifts and liberates.” (p. 73)

John Sifton, Violence All Around (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2015), 336 pages, US $ 27.95 [Hardcover], ISBN: 978-0-674-05769-2.

This is an interesting and provocative first-hand account by a Human Rights Watch staffer about the human phenomenon of violence: “what it is, what it does, and how we think and speak about it.” (p. ix) His accounts discuss the use of violence from the period of Taliban rule in Afghanistan prior to 9/11 through the political and social upheaval in post-2011 Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Syria. Running through these accounts are the topics of military campaigns, including military air power, the psychology of killing, the linguistics of war, theories of nonviolence, and other questions, such as “Why do humans come together to do violence? Why do people find it difficult to kill other people? What is terrorism? Why are we so fascinated by war,” and why does war provoke so much excess carnage, as well as “fierce obstinacy of both civilians and combatants…” (p. x)

Jeffrey D. Simon, Lone Wolf Terrorism: Understanding the Growing Threat (Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 2016), 331 pages, US $ 18.00 [Paperback], ISBN: 978-1-63388-237-9.

This paperback edition of the book’s 2013 hardcover edition includes a new preface which updates the author’s previous findings. These include new cases of lone wolf terrorist attacks, such as the husband-and-wife shootings in San Bernardino, CA, in December 2015 (which may not have been a ‘pure’ lone wolf type attack) and Omar Mateen’s June 2016 shooting rampage at the nightclub in Orlando, FL. The author observes that what makes lone wolves so dangerous is that “they often fly under the radar, making the job of law enforcement extremely difficult in terms of trying to prevent these violent acts.” (p. vii) The author also points out that lone wolves “cut across the political and religious spectrum, with militant far right-wing lone operatives also active in carrying out such attacks. Also valuable is the author’s observation that the violence launched by lone wolves can be highly lethal because “terrorist attacks are not always complex operations that require detailed planning, resources, training, and leadership directed by a group.” (p. ix) The author is president of Political Risk Assessment Company, Inc., in Los Angeles, CA.

Sophie Wahnich, In Defence of the Terror: Liberty or Death in the French Revolution (New York, NY: Verso, 2015), 144 pages, US $ 11.86 [Paperback], ISBN: 978-1-78478-202-3.

In this theoretical essay, the author, a French historian, examines the use of terrorism in the French Revolution from 1789 to 1799. One of the central questions discussed in the essay is “How was the dread instilled in the revolutionaries by their enemies overcome and transformed into the demand for terror? And beyond this, how was this demand understood and accepted? And finally, what did the Terror found, or seek to found?” (p. 36) The author concludes that “The revolutionary Terror, which is attacked for its revolutionary tribunal, its law of suspects and its guillotine, was a process welded to a regime of popular sovereignty in which the object was to conquer tyranny or die for liberty. This Terror was willed by those who, having won sovereign power by dint of insurrection, refused to let this be destroyed by counter-revolutionary enemies.” (p. 97) This book, which was translated from French into English, is a difficult read, so readers may turn to other books for insights on these issues.

Veronica Ward and Richard Sherlock (Eds.), Religion and Terrorism: The Use of Vilence in Abrahamic Monotheism (Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2014), 218 pages, US $ 84.00 [Hardcover], ISBN: 978-0-7391-8568-1.

The contributors to this interesting volume examine the nexus of religion and terrorism. Specifically, they focus on how religious doctrine has become “a powerful tool and motivator for individuals and groups in their willingness to engage in acts of terror.” (p. 1) The texts of the principal monotheistic religions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam are examined, particularly how they are interpreted by extremist groups to employ terrorism “as the appropriate means to gain God’s favor and blessing.” (p. 1) The introductory chapter sets the stage for the discussion by defining terrorism and its targets, as well as the cognitive, psychological, and social organization of religion. This culminates with a discussion of religious terrorism, which is explained as the product of motivations that “come from a divine or sacred source that requires obedience to a sacred way of life, and to beliefs that are given by a transcendent source.” (p. 10) The volume’s chapters explain the phenomenon of religious terrorism in the cases of Christian fundamentalism and extremism, Jewish extremism’s use of terrorism, “Islamic” religious terrorism, the Muslim ideologies of martyrdom, and the role of religion and religious teachings in al Qaida. The co-editors are professors at Utah State University, where Dr. Ward is an associate professor of political science and Dr. Sherlock a professor of philosophy.

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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