Anatomy of Terror

Title:                      Anatomy of Terror

Author:                Ali Soufan

Soufan, Ali H. (2017). Anatomy of Terror: From The Death of Bin Laden to The Rise of the Islamic State. New York: W. W. Norton & Company

LCCN:    2016055805

HV6431 .S6465 2017

Summary

  • A compelling, definitive account of how and why bin Laden’s ideology keeps rising from the dead. When Osama bin Laden was killed by a U.S. Navy SEAL, many prophesied al-Qaeda’s imminent demise. In reality the opposite has occurred. Why? Watching the Arab Spring from his Pakistani safe house, bin Laden had seen an historic opportunity: “The next stage will be the return of the caliphate.” In the six years since bin Laden’s death, al-Qaeda’s affiliates metastasized, and the Islamic State, its most brutal spinoff, proclaimed itself the reborn caliphate bin Laden had foreseen. Anatomy of Terror is told through the stories of the flagbearers of today’s Islamic radicalism, including a Jordanian drug dealer, an air force colonel who served Saddam Hussein, a reclusive Iraqi bookworm, and one of bin Laden’s own sons. Ali Soufan, a top counterterrorism operative, lays bare the psychology and inner workings of al-Qaeda, the Islamic State, and their spawn and shows how the propagation of terrorism can be stopped.

Contents

  • Introduction : friends and enemies — Prologue : the old man of the mountain — The snake with broken teeth — Allegience — The disaster — The emir of the strangers — Doctor, wise man, teacher, traitor — The Syrian wars — Those who loose and bind — Steadfast sons — Conclusion : slaying the hydra.

Subjects

Date Posted:      June 1, 2017

Review by Michiko Kakutani[1]

In his revealing and timely new book, Anatomy of Terror, the former F.B.I. special agent Ali Soufan compares Al Qaeda and its vicious spinoff, the Islamic State, to the Hydra from Greek mythology: Cut off one head and two more quickly sprout.

More than a decade and a half after Sept. 11, and a half-dozen years after the killing of Osama bin Laden, he writes, “the cancer of bin Ladenism has metastasized across the Middle East and North Africa and beyond, carried by even more virulent vectors.”

“Whereas on 9/11 Al Qaeda had around 400 members,” he goes on, “today it has thousands upon thousands, in franchises and affiliates spread from the shores of the Pacific to Africa’s Atlantic seaboard.” And he notes that bin Laden’s 20-something son Hamza—who “grew up with a fervor for jihad and a determination to follow” in his father’s footsteps—is “being prepared for leadership” with several of his father’s most trusted lieutenants. Meanwhile, the Islamic State has brought mass murder to Iraq and Syria, and conducted or inspired attacks in more than two dozen countries; the group claimed responsibility for last week’s deadly bombing in Manchester, England.

As he did in his best-selling 2011 book, The Black Banners[2], Soufan writes with immense knowledge and authority. He was the lead investigator of the bombing of the American destroyer Cole and a supervisor of counterterrorism operations and the investigation of events surrounding Sept. 11. He was instrumental in identifying the Sept. 11 hijackers and Khalid Shaikh Mohammed as the architect of those attacks, and he extracted such crucial information not by torture or “enhanced interrogation techniques” (E.I.T.s), but by building a rapport with his subjects, sparring with them over interpretations of the Quran, and using old-fashioned logic and psychology.

Soufan, who left the F.B.I. in 2005, has been an outspoken critic of the Bush administration’s so-called E.I.T.s, arguing that torture is both morally wrong and ineffective and dangerous—generating false leads and unreliable information, and helping terrorists find new recruits.

In The Black Banners, Soufan provided a compelling insider’s account of American efforts to track down the perpetrators of Sept. 11, and recounted the story of Al Qaeda up through the death of bin Laden. His new book covers some of the same ground, but focuses on that terrorist group after bin Laden’s death, and how it and the Islamic State have evolved since—their different philosophies and divergent trajectories, and how the personalities of their leaders have shaped the organizations. Of the relationship between the soft-spoken bin Laden and Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi, the fiery militant who founded the group that would become the Islamic State, Soufan quotes an intelligence officer: It was a case of “loathing at first sight.”

Much of this has been covered in books like Black Flags: The Rise of ISIS[3] by Joby Warrick, ISIS: Inside the Army of Terror by Michael Weiss and Hassan Hassan[4], and ISIS: The State of Terror[5] by Jessica Stern and J. M. Berger. But Soufan brings firsthand, on-the-ground experience hunting down and interrogating Qaeda members. Anatomy of Terror not only tells a gripping story but is filled with insights that put today’s terror attacks by the Islamic State and Al Qaeda in perspective with the history and complicated geopolitics of the region.

Soufan underscores the disastrous role that the United States invasion of Iraq and its bungled occupation played in fueling terrorism, creating chaos and a power vacuum in Iraq—the perfect incubator for insurgent violence and bloodshed. Two calamitous decisions made by the Americans (dissolving the Iraqi Army and banning members of Saddam Hussein’s Baath Party from positions of authority) would prove fateful. Soufan writes that embittered and unemployed “former Baathists soon became the backbone of the new Islamic State of Iraq.” He adds, “With their governmental, intelligence, and military experience, these men made themselves essential both to ISI’s battlefield achievements and to the terror tactics it has deployed against ordinary citizens.”

He lucidly describes the nefarious modus operandi (borrowed, in part, from Hussein’s regime) by which ISI—which would be renamed ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) or ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria), and later simply IS, the Islamic State—began aggressively conquering territory in Iraq and Syria in 2013. It would start, in each town, by opening what appeared to be a religious community center, then selecting fervent young men “to inform on their neighbors and spy on any rival rebel groups in the area.”

While gathering intelligence and blackmail material on residents, Soufan explains: “ISIL would begin concentrating its fighters in the area—typically foreigners who would have less compunction about killing or subjugating the natives. When the local faction judged that it had amassed enough manpower and enough leverage with the local population, it would go public and seize the municipal government, violently if necessary.” Leaders of rival groups would be assassinated, and anyone who opposed ISIL’s rule would be killed—terror tactics that compelled allegiance from local tribes.

In other chapters, Soufan gives a detailed portrait of Al Qaeda’s more bureaucratic operation, describing bin Laden’s long view of history and his penchant for micromanagement. (“Please send me the résumés of all the brothers who might be nominated for high administrative positions now or in the future.”)

Such passages give a keen sense of how these terrorist groups operate day to day. Soufan also uses some of the techniques he learned as an interrogator to get inside the heads of his subjects, mapping the factors that lead many to become jihadis, and the ways Al Qaeda and the Islamic State use publicity and propaganda to recruit members and promote their brand.

“Know your enemy,” he quotes Sun Tzu, adding that empathy is a useful tool in this war—“not in the colloquial sense of sharing another person’s perspective, but in the clinical sense of being able to see the world through another person’s eyes.” By understanding Al Qaeda and the Islamic State, he writes, we can better “combat the destructive ideology they represent.”

[1] Michiko Kakutani, “A Former F.B.I. Agent on Terrorism Since the Death of Bin Laden,” New York Times (May 29, 2017). A version of this review appears in print on May 30, 2017, on Page C1 of the New York edition with the headline: “Bin Laden Is Gone. His Hydra Thrives.” Follow Michiko Kakutani on Twitter: @michikokakutani

[2] Soufan, Ali H. (2011) with Daniel Freedman. The Black Banners: The Inside Story of 9/11 and the War Against al-Qaeda. New York: W.W. Norton & Co.

[3] Warrick, Joby (2015). Black Flags: The Rise of ISIS. New York: Doubleday

[4] Weiss, Michael (2015), and Hassan Hassan. ISIS: Inside The Army of Terror. New York, NY: Regan Arts

[5] Stern, Jessica (2015) and J.M. Berger. ISIS: The State of Terror. New York, NY: Ecco Press, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers

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ISIS the State of Terror

Title:                      ISIS the State of Terror

Author:                Jessica Stern

Stern, Jessica (2015) and J.M. Berger. ISIS: The State of Terror. New York, NY: Ecco Press, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers

LCCN:    2014481578

HV6433.I722 S74 2015

Summary

  • “Two of America’s leading experts on violent extremism and terrorism explain the genesis, evolution, and implications of today’s most barbaric jihadist army, Islamic State–and how we can fight it”– from publisher.
  • Though terrorist groups are a fixture of contemporary politics and warfare, the world has never witnessed the degree of sheer brutality demonstrated by the group known as ISIS– the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. Its sadistic disregard for human life, sophisticated use of social media, acquisition of territory, and ability to attract foreign fighters is unprecedented. Stern and Berger analyze the tools ISIS uses both to frighten innocent citizens and lure new soldiers, and offer practical ideas on potential government responses.

Contents

  • The rise and fall of al Qaeda in Iraq — The rise of ISIS — From vanguard to smart mob — The foreign fighters — The message — Jihad goes social — The electronic brigades — The AQ-ISIS war — ISIS’s psychological warfare — The coming final battle? — The state of terror.

Subjects

Date Posted:      June 1, 2017

Review by Michiko Kakutani[1]

The Islamic State and its atrocities—beheadings, mass executions, the enslavement of women and children, and the destruction of cultural antiquities—are in the headlines every day now. The terror group not only continues to roll through the Middle East, expanding from Iraq and Syria into Libya and Yemen, but has also gained dangerous new affiliates in Egypt and Nigeria and continues to recruit foreign fighters through its sophisticated use of social media.

Given the ascendance of the Islamic State (also known as ISIS or ISIL), it’s startling to recall that in January 2014, President Obama referred to it as a “J.V. team,” suggesting that it did not pose anywhere near the sort of threat that Al Qaeda did.

Since then, yards of copy and scores of pixels have been devoted to trying to chronicle and comprehend the group. Two new books pull together and analyze a lot of material on it. Although much of their coverage (on matters like the organization’s use of social media, its fueling of sectarian hatred and its combination of ultraviolence with civil governance) will be familiar to those who follow the news, the authors do nimble jobs of turning their copious research and their own expertise on terrorism into coherent, accessible narratives that leave us with an understanding of the Islamic State’s history and metastasis, and its modus operandi.

ISIS: Inside the Army of Terror[2] by the journalists Michael Weiss and Hassan Hassan, draws upon the authors’ extensive reporting—including interviews with dozens of ISIS associates in Iraq and Syria, among them religious clerics, fighters, security officials and sympathizers—to give readers a fine-grained look at the organization’s evolution through assorted incarnations (Al Qaeda in Iraq, the Mujahidin Advisory Council and the Islamic State of Iraq) and its operations today. ISIS: The State of Terror by the Harvard terrorism scholar Jessica Stern and J. M. Berger, a contributor to Foreign Policy magazine, covers much of the same ground but with less granular detail. The authors also offer some vague recommendations on how they think the West should deal with the Islamic State: focus on “containment and constriction” rather than overwhelming military force, and exert more effective control of the digital battleground. (“Our power over the Internet is the equivalent of being able to control the weather in a ground war.”)

The most compelling sections of the Stern-Berger book are devoted to comparing ISIS and Al Qaeda. The authors describe Al Qaeda as an exclusive “vanguard movement,” a “cabal that saw itself as the elite intellectual leaders of a global ideological revolution that it would assist and manipulate.” Through the 1990s, they write, Al Qaeda “grew into a corporation, with a payroll and benefits department, and operatives who traveled around the world inserting themselves into local conflicts.”

ISIS, in contrast, is more of a populist start-up operation. Online, Ms. Stern and Mr. Berger note, “it amassed and empowered a ‘smart mob’ of supporters,” polling “its constituents and making shrewd calls about when to listen and who could safely be ignored.”

Al Qaeda’s vision for the restoration of the Islamic caliphate, they write, “is framed squarely in the long term”—”an idealized future that its leaders did not expect to see realized in their lifetimes.” Using “a classic extremist trope” (the defense of one’s own identity group against aggression), the authors assert, Osama bin Laden’s organization “framed its pitch to potential recruits in more relatable terms as ‘doing the right thing.’ “

The Islamic State, Mr. Berger and Ms. Stern say, dispensed with such intellectual argumentation and instead emphasized horrific violence (which served to stimulate and attract disaffected, angry young men) combined with the promise of a building “a Muslim society with all the trappings.” This utopian vision of “food aplenty, industry, banks, schools, health care, social services, pothole repair—even a nursing home with the insurgents’ unmistakable black flag draped over the walls,” they write, served as “a call for noncombatants, men and women alike, to build a nation-state alongside the warriors, with a role for engineers, doctors, filmmakers, sysadmins, and even traffic cops.”

Mr. Weiss and Mr. Hassan describe the Islamic State not only as a terrorist organization but also as “a slick propaganda machine effective at disseminating its message,” “a mafia adept at exploiting decades-old transnational gray markets for oil and arms trafficking,” a “conventional military that mobilizes and deploys foot soldiers” with professional acumen, and a “sophisticated intelligence-gathering apparatus that infiltrates rival organizations and silently recruits within their ranks before taking them over.”

As Mr. Weiss and Mr. Hassan see it, many reluctant supporters regard the Islamic State as “the only option on offer for Sunni Muslims who have been dealt a dismal hand in the past decade—first losing control of Iraq and now suffering nationwide atrocities, which many equate to genocide, in Syria. They view the struggle in the Middle East as one between Sunnis and an Iranian-led coalition, and they justify ultraviolence as a necessary tool to counterbalance or deter Shia hegemony.” The Islamic State has viciously exploited this sense of sectarian grievance, trying to fan the flames of civil war and incite Shia militias to violence—which the group could then hold up as proof to Sunnis that they “have no hope but the caliphate.”

These books note that in Iraq the sectarianism of Nuri Kamal al-Maliki (a polarizing figure who as prime minister increasingly moved to disenfranchise Sunnis and purge prominent Sunni leaders from the government) served only to push more Sunnis into the embrace of the Islamic State.

Both books also provide lucid assessments of the role that missteps and disastrous decision-making on the part of the United States played in fueling the rise of the Islamic State and its antecedents and affiliates. Ms. Stern and Mr. Berger write that the 2003 invasion of Iraq “reinforced jihadi claims about America’s hegemonic designs on the Middle East, providing a recruiting bonanza at a time when the terrorists needed it most.” They add that “while some politicians wanted to see Iraq during the allied invasion as a roach motel, we see it more like a hornet’s nest—with allied bombs and bullets spreading the hornets ever further, throughout the region and beyond.”

The occupation and postwar planning would prove equally disastrous. Both books remind us that decisions announced by L. Paul Bremer III, the top American civilian administrator in Iraq, in 2003—to dissolve the Iraqi Army and to ban Baath Party members from government—resulted in huge numbers of angry, unemployed Iraqis, easily recruited into a burgeoning insurgency and a dangerous lack of security. In fact, Mr. Weiss and Mr. Hassan contend that most of the Islamic State’s “top decision makers served in Saddam Hussein’s military or security services,” and in that sense, “ ‘secular’ Baathism has returned to Iraq under the guise of Islamic fundamentalism.”

Finally, both books point out that the United States’ withdrawal of troops from Iraq in 2011 and the Obama administration’s political disengagement have had lasting consequences for what Mr. Weiss and Mr. Hassan call “the country’s future instability.”

“The rise of ISIS,” Mr. Berger and Ms. Stern conclude, “is to some extent, the unintended consequence of Western intervention in Iraq. Coalition forces removed a brutal dictator from power, but they also broke the Iraqi state. The West lacked the patience, the will, and the wisdom to build a new, inclusive one. What remained were ruins.” They quote King Abdullah II of Jordan saying that the battle with ISIS will be a “generational fight.”

Mr. Weiss and Mr. Hassan sound an even more pessimistic note. “The army of terror,” they write at the end of their book, “will be with us indefinitely.”

[1] Michiko Kakutani New York Times (April 2, 2015). A version of this review appears in print on April 3, 2015, on Page C21 of the New York edition with the headline: “An Army of Terror Like No Other”. Follow Michiko Kakutani on Twitter: @michikokakutani

[2] Weiss, Michael (2015), and Hassan Hassan. ISIS: Inside The Army of Terror. New York, NY: Regan Arts

Posted in Terrorism | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

ISIS

Title:                      ISIS

Author:                Michael Weiss

Weiss, Michael (2015), and Hassan Hassan. ISIS: Inside The Army of Terror. New York, NY: Regan Arts

LCCN:    2015930621

HV6433.I722 W45 2015

Summary

  • “How did a group of religious fanatics, clad in black pajamas and armed to the teeth, manage to carve out a violent, fundamentalist “Islamic state” in wide swaths of Syria and Iraq? How did the widely celebrated revolution against Syrian dictator Bashar Assad descend into a movement led by a psychopathically violent band of jihadists dedicated to the destruction of America? And just who are these brutal Islamic militants—many speaking unaccented English and holding European passports—beheading Western hostages in slickly produced videos? In ISIS: Inside the Army of Terror, Syrian journalist Hassan Hassan and American analyst Michael Weiss explain how the terrorists of ISIS evolved from a nearly defeated insurgent group into a jihadi army—armed with American military hardware and the capability to administer a functioning state. Weiss and Hassan, who have both been on the frontlines of the Syrian revolution, have interviewed dozens of experts, American military and intelligence officials, and ISIS fighters to paint the first comprehensive picture of the rise and expansion of America’s most formidable terrorist enemy. ISIS: Inside the Army of Terror is destined to become the standard text on a terror group that, unfortunately, shows no signs of going away” — provided by publisher.

Subjects

Date Posted:      June 1, 2017

Two accounts—from Michael Weiss and Hassan Hassan, and from Patrick Cockburn[1]—offer contrasting perspectives on the rise of jihadism in the Middle East

Review by Robin Yassin-Kassab[2]

ISIS feeds first on state dysfunction, second on Sunni outrage. In Iraq, Sunni Arabs are a minority displaced from their privileged position by America’s invasion. Their revanchism[3] is exacerbated by the sectarian oppression practiced by the elected but Iranian-backed government. In Syria, Sunnis are an oppressed majority, the prime targets of a counter-revolutionary tyranny headed by mafias but claiming and exploiting Alawi sectarian identity.

Under other names, ISIS first grew in Iraq, as it would later in Syria, by exploiting resistance to occupation, American in the first case, that of a delegitimized regime in the other. Drawing on research by the Guardian’s Martin Chulov, Michael Weiss and Hassan Hassan show how Syria’s regime once collaborated with Iraqi Baathists and Salafist extremists, helping terrorists move to American-occupied Iraq, where their attacks against Shia civilians eventually precipitated civil war. This troublemaking was President Assad’s message to the US to leave his regime alone.

Eventually the jihadists were driven out of Iraq by the US-backed Awakening Movement. Their moment returned in 2013, when the Iraqi government repressed peaceful Sunni protests with live fire. Heading a Baathist-Islamist coalition, ISIS then captured huge swathes of the country and set about its reign of terror.

Weiss and Hassan have produced a detailed and readable book. Their informants include American and regional military officials and intelligence operatives, defected Syrian spies and diplomats, and—most fascinating of all—Syrians who work for ISIS (these are divided into categories such as politickers, pragmatists, opportunists and fence-sitters). The authors provide useful insights into ISIS governance—a combination of divide-and-rule, indoctrination and fear—and are well placed for the task. Hassan, an expert on tribal and jihadist dynamics, is from Syria’s east. Weiss reported from liberated al-Bab, outside Aleppo, before ISIS took it over.

Cockburn’s book is more polemic than analysis. While Weiss and Hassan give a sense of the vital civil movements that coincide with jihadism and Assadism in Syria, Cockburn sees only an opposition that “shoots children in the face for minor blasphemy”. He concedes the first revolutionaries wanted democracy, but still talks of “the uprising of the Sunni in Syria in 2011”. By 2014, he writes, “the armed opposition” to Assad was “dominated by ISIS”. Yet from January 2014, in response to popular pressure, every Syrian oppositional militia declared war against ISIS, pushed it out of the north-west, and weakened it in its eastern strongholds. They gave hundreds of lives in this battle. Compare the success of these “farmers and dentists” (as Barack Obama disparagingly called them) to the failure of the US-trained Iraqi army, which in June fled from a small ISIS force in Mosul. ISIS brought the American weapons it captured to bear on Syria, and surged back to the areas it had lost.

For Cockburn, Sunni jihadism is an essence without context. The war on terror failed, he says, because it didn’t fully engage with Sunni states such as Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. He blames—rightly—Saudi Arabia’s Wahhabi ideology, a form of Islamism “that imposes sharia law” for the ideological background from which ISIS arises. Repeatedly he uses the comparison of Sunni jihadists to Nazis and Shia to Jews. He is almost silent, however, on the more immediate background.

For him, it is the Syrian opposition that “has allowed or encouraged the conflict to become a vicious sectarian war”. He doesn’t consider that Assad might have had something to do with it, by sending Alawi death squads into Sunni villages to murder and rape, or by releasing violent Salafists from prison in 2011 at the same time he was targeting secular, peaceful activists for detention and assassination. Nor does he blame the Iranian- ISIS backed Shia jihadist militias from Lebanon and Iraq who fight on Assad’s frontlines.

Cockburn exaggerates western support of the Syrian opposition, when the Americans’ main role was to prevent Arab states from sending the heavy weaponry Syrians so desperately needed to resist Assad’s blitzkrieg. One justification given by commentators for the failure to support the Free Army early on was that Islamists might benefit. Of course, the opposite happened—starved for funds, guns and ammunition, the moderate leadership was unable to win loyalty, or establish central control and discipline. Many of its fighters either despaired and left the country or gravitated towards the much better-funded Islamist brigades. Unhindered, Assad’s barrel bombs and scuds implemented a scorched-earth strategy, traumatizing Syrians and producing a vacuum in which jihadism flourished.

Cockburn has conducted no interviews with fighters. His informants tend to be government officials or those steered into his path by these officials, ranging from “one senior Iraqi source” to “an intelligence officer from a Middle East country neighboring Syria”. Unlike Cockburn, I have visited liberated parts of Syria unembedded, and have maintained contacts with democratic activists who oppose, and are targeted by, both Assad and ISIS.

Increasingly a deluded “realism” calls for cooperation with Assad against the greater jihadist enemy. It was precisely in order to provoke these calls that Assad did his utmost to create a jihadist threat, and why—until June 2014, when ISIS became a threat to his regime—he refrained from bombing the organization. Even today, when the Free Army and ISIS fight, Assad bombs the Free Army. Former State Department official Fred Hof describes the unofficial ISIS-Assad collusion like this: “Their top tactical priority in Syria is identical: destroy the Syrian nationalist opposition.”

[1] Cockburn, Patrick (2016). The Age of Jihad: Islamic State And The Great War for the Middle East. London: New York: Verso

[2] Robin Yassin-Kassab, “Isis: Inside the Army of Terror; The Rise of Islamic State—review. Two accounts—from Michael Weiss and Hassan Hassan, and from Patrick Cockburn—offer contrasting perspectives on the rise of jihadism in the Middle East,” The Guardian (28 March 2015)

[3] A policy of retaliating, especially by a nation or group to regain lost territory or standing; revenge.

Posted in Terrorism | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

The Age of Jihad

Title:                      The Age of Jihad

Author:                Patrick Cockburn

Cockburn, Patrick (2016). The Age of Jihad: Islamic State And The Great War for the Middle East. London: New York: Verso

LCCN:    2016449025

DS63.123 .C43 2016

Summary

  • “Presented in … diary form, this substantial volume draws together a careful selection of Cockburn’s writings from the frontlines of the conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria, interspersed with thoughtful analyses and contemporary, original reflection. What emerges is the fine grain and nuance of an unfolding tragedy in which, in contrast to the often facile proclamations of politicians and much of the media: “These are not black-and-white situations, good guys against bad, vile tyrant against a risen people like a scene out of Les Miserables. It is astonishing and depressing to see Western governments committing their countries to wars without recognizing this basic fact.” The conflicts being fueled by such misunderstandings are today spilling over to cities in the West, provoking a backlash that learns little from recent history and is likely only to make things worse.–Publisher.

Contents

  • Part 1. Afghan prelude — The overthrow of the Taliban, Afghanistan, 2001 — Part 2. The occupation of Iraq, Iraq, 1990-2003 — Iraq under sanctions, Iraq, 2003 — Regime change, Iraq, 2003 — Resistance, Iraq, 2004 — Bombs and ballots, Iraq, 2005 — Civil war, Iraq, 2006-7 — Drawdown, Iraq, 2007-10 — Part 3. Afghan reprise — The return of the Taliban, Afghanistan, 2009-2012 — Part IV: The Arab Spring — Mission creep, Libya, 2011 — The “Somalianisation” of Libya, Libya, 2012-14 — Yemen in the crossfire, Yemen, 2009-15 — Sectarian venom, Bahrain, 2011 — Part 5. Syria: Revolution and counter-revolution — From revolution to sectarian war, Syria, 2011-13 — Syrian catastrophe, Syria, 2013-14 — Part 6. Birth of a caliphate — Ten years on, Iraq, 2013 — Iraq on the brink, Iraq, 2013-2014 — The Islamic State expands, The Caliphate, 2014 — The Islamic State remains, The Caliphate, 2014-2015 — Life in the Caliphate, The Caliphate, 2015 — The Islamic State at bay, The Caliphate, 2015-2016 — Afterword : Eight wars.

Subjects

Notes

  • Originally published: Chaos and Caliphate. New York  OR Books, 2016.

Date Posted:      June 1, 2017

Reviewed at Weiss, Michael (2015), and Hassan Hassan. ISIS: Inside The Army of Terror. New York, NY: Regan Arts

Posted in Terrorism | Tagged , | 1 Comment

National Security Intelligence

Title:                      National Security Intelligence

Author:                 Loch Johnson

Johnson, Loch K. (20017). National Security Intelligence (2nd ed.) Cambridge, UK; Malden, MA: Polity

LCCN:    2016039810

JK486.I6 J64 2017

Summary

  • “National security intelligence is a vast, complex, and important topic, made doubly hard for citizens to understand because of the thick veils of secrecy that surround it. In the second edition of his definitive introduction to the field, leading intelligence expert Loch K. Johnson guides readers skilfully through this shadowy side of government. Drawing on over forty years of experience studying intelligence agencies and their activities, he explains the three primary missions of intelligence: information collection and analysis, counterintelligence, and covert action, before moving on to explore the wider dilemmas posed by the existence of secret government organizations in open, democratic societies. Recent developments including the controversial leaks by the American intelligence official Edward J. Snowden, the U.S. Senate’s Torture Report, and the ongoing debate over the use of drones are explored alongside difficult questions such as why intelligence agencies inevitably make mistakes in assessing world events; why some intelligence officers choose to engage in treason against their own country on behalf of foreign regimes; and how spy agencies can succumb to scandals -including highly intrusive surveillance against the very citizens they are meant to protect. Comprehensively revised and updated throughout, National Security Intelligence is tailor-made to meet the interests of students and general readers who care about how nations shield themselves against threats through the establishment of intelligence organizations, and how they strive for safeguards to prevent the misuse of this secret power”– Provided by publisher.

Contents

  • Machine generated contents note: Contents About the Author List of Figures and Tables List of Abbreviations Preface: The Study of National Security Intelligence Acknowledgments 1 National Security Intelligence: The First Line of Defense 2 Intelligence Collection and Analysis: Knowing about the World 3 Covert Action: Secret Attempts to Shape History 4 Counterintelligence: The Hunt for Moles 5 Safeguards against the Abuse of Secret Power 6 National Security Intelligence: Shield and Hidden Sword of the Democracies Notes Suggested Readings Index.

Subjects

Date Posted:      May 15, 2017

Reviewed in The Intelligencer[1]

“The world of intelligence is myth-ridden in the popular imagination. Loch Johnson, one of most eminent and experienced of scholars on the subject, here supplies an excellent, compact, and readable introduction that makes the principal aspects of intelligence refreshingly intelligible to all.” —Richard K. Betts, Columbia University

“… a wonderful asset for those professors aiming to introduce students to the complexities, the dangers, and the importance of the U.S. intelligence establishment. The painful truth is that most Americans know very little about our government’s intelligence agencies beyond what they have learned from movies, television shows, and lurid headlines. This book can work wonders in educating students (and indeed, ordinary citizens) seeking to understand intelligence. It is well-written, and manages to combine brevity with depth and nuance.” — David Barrett, Villanova University

In the second edition of his definitive introduction to the field, leading intelligence expert Loch K. Johnson explains the three primary missions of intelligence: information collection and analysis, counterintelligence, and covert action, before moving on to explore the wider dilemmas posed by the existence of secret government organizations in open, democratic societies. Recent developments including the controversial leaks by the contractor Edward J. Snowden, the US Senate’s Torture Report, and the ongoing debate over the use of drones are explored alongside difficult questions such as why intelligence agencies inevitably make mistakes in assessing world events; why some intelligence officers choose to engage in treason against their own country on behalf of foreign regimes; and how spy agencies can succumb to scandals—including highly intrusive surveillance against the very citizens they are meant to protect.

 

 

[1] Reviewed in The Intelligencer: Journal of U.S. Intelligence Studies (22, 3, Winter 2016-17, p. 139).

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MacArthur’s Spies

Title:                      MacArthur’s Spies

Author:                Peter Eisner

Eisner, Peter (2017). MacArthur’s Spies: The Soldier, The Singer, And The Spymaster Who Defied The Japanese in World War II. New York: Viking

LCCN:    2016056837

D810.S7 E396 2017

Contents

  • The war — Occupation — Survival — Fame — Telling the story.

Subjects

Date Posted:      May 12, 2017

Reviewed in The Intelligencer[1]

MacArthur’s Spies reads like Casablanca set in the Pacific, filled with brave and daring characters caught up in the intrigue of war—and the best part is that it’s all true!” —Tom Maier

On January 2, 1942, Japanese troops marched into Manila unopposed by US forces. Manila was a strategic port, a romantic American outpost and a jewel of a city. Tokyo saw its conquest of the Philippines as the key in its plan to control all of Asia, including Australia. Thousands of soldiers surrendered and were sent on the notorious eighty-mile Bataan Death March. But thousands of other Filipinos and Americans refused to surrender and hid in the Luzon hills above Bataan and Manila. This is the story of three of them, and how they successfully foiled the Japanese for more than two years, sabotaging Japanese efforts and preparing the way for MacArthur’s return.

From a jungle hideout, Colonel John Boone, an enlisted American soldier, led an insurgent force of Filipino fighters who infiltrated Manila as workers and servants to stage demolitions and attacks.

“Chick” Parsons, an American businessman, polo player, and expatriate in Manila, was also a US Navy intelligence officer. He escaped in the guise of a Panamanian diplomat, and returned as MacArthur’s spymaster, coordinating the guerrilla efforts with the planned Allied invasion.

And, finally, there was Claire Phillips, an itinerant American torch singer with many names and almost as many husbands. Her nightclub in Manila served as a cover for supplying food to Americans in the hills and to thousands of prisoners of war. She and the men and women who worked with her gathered information from the collaborating Filipino businessmen; the homesick, English-speaking Japanese officers; and the spies who mingled in the crowd.

[1] Reviewed in The Intelligencer: Journal of U.S. Intelligence Studies (22, 3, Winter 2016-17, pp. 138-139).

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The Counterintelligence Chronology

Title:                      The Counterintelligence Chronology

Author:                  Edward Mickolus

Mickolus, Edward F. (2015). The Counterintelligence Chronology: Spying By And Against The United States From The 1700s Through 2014. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company, Inc.,

LCCN:    2015025616

UB271.U5 M53 2015

Summary

  • “This book summarizes hundreds of cases of espionage for and against U.S. interests and offers suggestions for further reading. Milestones in the history of American counterintelligence are noted. Charts describe the motivations of traitors, American targets of foreign intelligence services and American traitors and their foreign handlers. The author discusses trends in intelligence gathering and what the future may hold”– Provided by publisher.

Subjects

Date Posted:      May 12, 2017

Note at Amazon.com[1]

Spying in the United States began during the Revolutionary War, with George Washington as the first director of American intelligence and Benedict Arnold as the first turncoat. The history of American espionage is full of intrigue, failures and triumphs–and motives honorable and corrupt. Several notorious spies became household names–Aldrich Ames, Robert Hanssen, the Walkers, the Rosenbergs–and were the subjects of major motion pictures and television series. Many others have received less attention.

This book summarizes hundreds of cases of espionage for and against U.S. interests and offers suggestions for further reading. Milestones in the history of American counterintelligence are noted. Charts describe the motivations of traitors, American targets of foreign intelligence services and American traitors and their foreign handlers. A former member of the U.S. intelligence community, the author discusses trends in intelligence gathering and what the future may hold. An annotated bibliography is provided, written by Hayden Peake, curator of the Historical Intelligence Collection of the Central Intelligence Agency.

[1] See Amazon.com

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