“Anatomy of Terror” Book Review in The Economist: The Roots of Jihad, from Afghanistan to the Banlieues
June 19, 2017

The Roots of Jihad, from Afghanistan to the Banlieues

The Economist

Charlie Hebdo, Bataclan, Brussels, Nice, Berlin, Manchester and now London. The trail of blood of what Gilles Kepel calls the “third wave” of jihad grows ever longer …

Ali Soufan, a Lebanese-born former FBI investigator, describes the other circle of jihadism: open-front jihad. “Anatomy of Terror” tells the stories of the leaders of al-Qaeda and IS (Islamic State.) Mr Kepel’s and Mr Soufan’s different styles and focuses reflect the experiences of the two authors, one an academic and the other a law-enforcement practitioner. They also say something about contrasting European and American priorities: for Europeans the pressing danger is at home; for America, the main enemies are still the organized groups abroad.

Mr Soufan is at his most interesting in describing in detail the ambiguous role of Iran in the arrest, and then the release, of senior al-Qaeda figures fleeing Afghanistan—including Hamza bin Laden, Osama’s son—to be used either as leverage or as attack dogs”. Mr Soufan has a warning, too: as IS is worn down, and its dispute with al-Qaeda over the declaration of the caliphate becomes moot, the two movements could reunite, posing an even graver menace to the West …


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