February 6, 2017


Donald Trump needs to read this book (Glenn L. Carle, Feb. 4th, 2017, Salon)

None too soon, the eminent terrorism scholar Peter R. Neumann explains in a nuanced assessment the nature of Islamic terrorism, the novel strengths and weaknesses of the "Islamic State" in Syria, and the likely threat from Islamic-inspired terrorism in the years -- decades -- to come. [...]

[N]eumann makes broader, more subtle points that some of us in the counterterrorism community have held for years: The West, or more accurately the modern world, faces a long-term series of hard-to-counter attacks. This is a problem primarily for intelligence, law enforcement and special forces to address; but the West does not face an existential threat to our civilization that need continue to shape and define our counterterrorism policies in overwhelmingly military, operational and reactive terms.

Neumann clearly makes an important distinction about the nature of "radical Islam": "I would not argue that the new jihadists have nothing at all to do with Islam, but it would be just as false to present their extreme interpretation as the sole, true version of the faith." The terrorists are "among the Salafists -- not among the 'mainstream Muslims.'"

Neumann succinctly describes the background to the terrorist threats facing the West using, like most terrorism experts, the seminal "four waves" schema developed a generation ago by David Rapoport. We are now living in the fourth wave of terrorism: the religious wave.

Neumann breaks down the Islamic State and the future of jihadism. He describes the genesis of the Islamic State from the frustrations in the Sunni population of Iraq in the wake of the American invasion; the upending and destruction of all traditional and existing institutions and distributions of power among the various groups that formed Iraq; the lasting reflexive resentments about the artificial imperial and foreign-imposed state borders of the Sykes-Picot agreement; and the tragically successful efforts of local jihadists -- notably the sociopathic Jordanian killer Abu Musab al-Zarqawi -- to foment a Sunni-Shia religious war.

Notably, despite the conventional view in the U.S., al-Qa'ida had nothing whatsoever to do with Iraq or Saddam Hussein, was a late arrival to the insurgency, never had much presence, never controlled Zarqawi in the least, and never accomplished much of anything, except to beg Zarqawi for money, because U.S. counterterrorism operations against al-Qa'ida had almost completely neutered it by 2004-5. According to Neumann, Zarqawi's "plan was to unleash a civil war so chaotic and so barbarous that the Americans would leave Iraq and the Sunni parts of the country would break away from the rest."

Instead, he unleashed the war of all against the Salafi.

Posted by at February 6, 2017 9:03 AM