Inside Jihad

Title:                      Inside Jihad

Author:                  Dr. Tawfik Hamid

Hamid, Tawfik (2015). Inside Jihad: How Radical Islam Works, Why It Should Terrify Us, How to Defeat It. Mountain Lake Park, MD: Mountain Lake Press

LCCN:    2014945085

BP182 .H357 2008


Date Updated:  March 2, 2017

Reviewed in The Intelligencer[1]

Why has radical Islam become such a deadly threat, and why does it dominate the Muslim world? Dr. Tawfik Hamid answers these and other questions about this evil movement. Hamid knows about radical Islam firsthand. In the early 1980s he was recruited into Jamaa Islamiya, a terror group led at the time by Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri, the man who went on to replace Osama bin Laden as leader of al-Qaeda.

Eventually Hamid rejected its distortions of the Quran and pursued the-reformation of lslam. Inside Jihad provides his opposition to the Islamic terror movement. As a medical doctor and an expert on the psychology of the jihadist mindset, he explains the roles that sex, fear, petrodollars, and the hijab for women have played in its proliferation, and details his plan for Islamic reformation to alter jihadist minds and end their reign of terror.

Complied and Reviewed by Hayden B. Peake[2]

Historians refer to the period in the 1930s when Winston Churchill was without a cabinet position as his “wilderness years.”[3] Although he had no official influence at the time, the future prime minister paid close attention to Germany’s illegal rearmament and would later write that, “My warnings over the last six years had been so numerous, so detailed, and were now so terribly vindicated, that no one could gainsay me.”[4] Dr. Tawfik Hamid finds himself in a parallel position with respect to the contemporary threat from radical Islam, and his book, Inside Jihad, seeks to alert the public before it is too late. What qualifications does he possess that justify his position?

By his telling, Dr. Hamid was born in Cairo in 1961 to a respectable Muslim family. He studied Islam in high school, where he was exposed to some anti-Christian views, but it wasn’t until he entered medical school to follow in his father’s footsteps that he became radicalized. Although he didn’t know it then, he soon found out that “medical schools at the time had become vanguards of fundamentalism in most Egyptian universities.” (p. 31) He was spotted by Jamaa Islamiya (Islamic Group), which prepared recruits for leadership positions in other jihadist organizations. He attended lectures by Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri—who would later become Osama bin Laden’s deputy and then leader ofal-Da’ida—and for the next three years—1979-1982—worked to become a jihadist, ready to “fight and kill the Russian invaders in the name of Allah.” (p. 51) At the same time, he gradually noticed conflicts between the Jamaa interpretations of the Quran and what the book actually said. Then, he learned of a plan to “kidnap a police officer at a medical school function and ‘bury him alive’” (p. 52) It didn’t happen, but this and other incidents led to his association with another Muslim group—the Quranics—who followed the traditional Quran, avoiding radical jihadist interpretations. In the end, he decided to leave Jamaa despite their threat, “Apostates such as you will be killed.” (p. 53)

Dr. Hamid then emigrated to the United States, where he attended Stanford and Georgetown universities and obtained degrees in internal medicine and cognitive psychology. He goes on to explain that, as the terrorist threat became “an intractable scourge” (p. 13) in the United States, he noticed that some observers failed to distinguish between the goals and beliefs of traditional Islam and the distorted dogma of Islamic radicalism, the perpetrators of the terror. Inside Jihad seeks to clarify the differences and to suggest what can be done to neutralize the threat.

Dr. Hamid identifies the “myths and misconceptions about Islam” and the root causes that distinguish it from jihadism. He argues, persuasively and ominously, that many world leaders do not realize that the principal cause of the radicalism is the version of Islam “currently taught and practiced in the vast majority of Muslim communities.” (p. 56) Then he discusses the “categories of Islamic belief” and what needs to be understood about each one. He sees undue emphasis on the distinction between Sunni and Shia Muslims—“they do not differ doctrinally in significant ways,” their murderous clashes notwithstanding. Their motivations and tactics are the same, he suggests. What should be studied in detail when considering Islamic terror are the differences “between Salafi Islam, or Salifisrn, and Sufi Islam,” and he deals with both in some detail. (p. 9)

In Dr. Hamid’s view, the West is losing the struggle against radical Islam, in part by refusing to criticize the reality of its actions while not recognizing—together with many Muslims—what must be done to reform the radicals. He discusses at length steps toward Islamic reformation.

Inside jihad concludes with an extensive account of “a strategic plan to defeat radical Islam” that draws on the information in the earlier chapters. Dr. Hamid offers no silver bullet solutions; instead, he focuses on what must be done to defeat Salafism and its goal of an Islamic world under Sharia law. In many ways, Inside Jihad is a deeply disturbing book, but one that should be taken seriously.

[1] The Intelligencer: Journal of U.S. Intelligence Studies (21, 3, Fall/Winter 2015, p.138 ).

[2] Hayden Peake in The Intelligencer (xx, x, Fall 2016, pp.  ) Peake is the Curator of the CIA’s Historical Intelligence Collection. He has served in the Directorate of Science and Technology and the Directorate of Operations. Most of these reviews appeared in recent unclassified editions of CIA’s Studies in Intelligence. Other reviews and articles may be found online at

[3] Gilbert, Martin (1981, 2012). Winston Churchill, The Wilderness Years: Speaking Out Against Hitler in the Prelude to War. London ; New York: Tauris Parke Paperbacks [LCCN: 2012454311]

[4] Churchill, Winston (1948, et al.). The Second World War. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, Vol. 1, The Gathering Storm [LCCN: 86144242]


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One Response to Inside Jihad

  1. Looks like a fascinating read.

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