Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Book Review: Future Jihad

In light of the recent arrests of terrorists on both sides of the Atlantic, the book reviewed here has assumed an important immediacy.

Future Jihad: Terrorist Strategies Against America, footnoted and indexed, is a riveting read. In its “Introduction,” Dr. Phares begins with a short and emotional description of the events of 9/11 and refers to the day as “The Pearl Harbor of Terrorism.” Having analyzed the jihad phenomenon for twenty-five years prior to 9/11, Dr. Walid Phares, an expert on the Middle East and a senior fellow with the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, seeks to answer ten questions:
(1) Why did the jihadists launch the attacks of September 11?
(2) Are the jihadists planning on future wars?
(3) What can we do about these jihadists?
(4) Are they at war with us? Why? Since when?
(5) What did they want to achieve?
(6) Why didn't we know about it?
(7) Who obstructed our knowledge of it?
(8) Are they planning on future wars?
(9) Have these wars already started?
(10) What can we do about them?
Future Jihad provides historical background and ideological information, but not in an overbearing or difficult-to-understand manner. The opening chapter points out that jihad, a religious duty within Islam, dates from the seventh century and was officially a state business. Perhaps the most chilling material in the book can be found in Chapters 13 and 15, “Projecting Future Jihad” and “America: Jihad’s Second Generation,” respectively. In his concluding chapter, Dr. Phares warns, with some urgency,
“At the end of the next decade, historians will be asking many questions and will face the dilemma of hindsight....[A] stalemate could have been reached as well, if by the middle of this decade several opportunities have been lost.”
This final chapter gravely advises that Americans need to go beyond what they learn in the “educational establishment, which is now becoming an isolated bastion of denial.”

Dr. Phares has done a lifetime of research and is fluent in Arabic, thus able to understand what is being said in various terrorist chat rooms. He believes that proper identification of the adversary and an orderly progression of steps offer hope. Nevertheless, he also points out that jihad is capable of mutation in that a rising generation of jihadists is capable of adaptation, thereby promoting a more sophisticated level of operations.

Dr. Phares' recent commentary on this generation of jihadists was published on June 5, 2006. Excerpt from the introduction to that interview:
"One of the greatest myths about the War on Terror is that our enemy is a static force. Instead, the facts show that since 9/11, Islamist terrorism has been growing and changing in a profoundly dangerous way...."
Dr. Phares’ web site is here, and he also contributes to Counterterrorism Blog, an informative site for current developments related to the topics raised in Dr. Phares' book.

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