In a review of ISIS: Inside the Army of Terror, by Michael Weiss and Hassan Hassan, Justin Vela writes: The rebellion by a younger generation of extremists against an older one is at the heart of the book. The battle over ideology and how to employ terror remains a key argument between ISIL and Al Qaeda today.
The unblinking ease with which the authors describe the horrific reality of this debate reflects the degree to which violence has become normalised in the age of ISIL. The authors’ use of the term “head-loppers” to describe men who have beheaded hundreds of Iraqis and Syrians, along with several Europeans, and US and Japanese citizens, is a rather graphic shorthand and one that’s indicative of how casual the daily horrors have become, at least at a distance.
And ominously, the conflicts are likely to get worse, the authors suggest. There are few options other than to fight ISIL, but a series of well-researched examples show how deeply the group has embedded itself within the largely conservative and previously disenfranchised communities they now rule. Mapping out how ISIL learnt to divide and conquer tribes in Sunni-dominated areas of Iraq and Syria, Hassan and Weiss show it to be an organisation that cleverly markets itself as both a defender against Iran and a mediator in tribal disputes. It allows local rule in many areas it conquers, but makes clear that an attack on any of its supporters will result in annihilation. This mixture of local empowerment and fear is key to its success, according to the authors. [Continue reading…]