Absolutely Recommended, Some Flaws, But Many Illustrations and an Easy Read, September 29, 2016
I rate this book as a solid five because it is a very important collection of insights — including a buried but all important indictment of Saudi Arabian Wahhabism and Western Imperialism as the true roots of ISIS. The graphics are so exceptional that I urge the author to offer this book in Kindle form where color graphics and the easy jumps from picture to brief test to picture will make this book twice as valuable as its present form limited to black and white photos.
There is absolutely no question about the author's erudition or integrity. This is a man deeply steeped — as an observing Westerner — in Arabic culture, history, and language; in the political-economic history of the region; in the role of Islam as the foundation and the glue for society and the Islamic economy; and in the contributing factors including the US invasion of Iraq and the US dismantling of the Sunni officer corps in Iraq leading to ISIS. A solid five on intent and substance.
This is not a book as much as it is a very long Oxford-Cambridge level slide show. At one point I wondered if the book had been funded by the CIA's Covert Action Staff (CAS), with does stuff like this, via MI-6, which the author worked for. DISCLOSURE: I worked for CIA as a clandestine case officer and refused an assignment to CAS when I returned from three back to back field tours. There is no mention in this book of the role of Turkey in helping ISIS stage fake beheadings and manage a very fine psychological operations program against the West that makes them seem larger than they are. There is also no mention of the fact that the CIA has helped train and arm ISIS, and ISIS is in fact a theatrical agency intended to help justify the continued US military occupation of the region, including 44 bases surrounding Iran (of the 1,000 US bases all over the world — Russia has no more than 3 bases outside Russia). See my free online briefing at Tiny URL dot com /Saudi-Threat-2016.
As an obsessive reader across 98 categories of non-fiction, the first thing I look for in any book is an index and endnotes. This is such an important book that it troubles me that neither are offered. I recognize that this book in this form is vastly more readable and accessible to the average person interested in a “quick read” on Islam and ISIS, so I strongly recommend the book for anyone who wishes to grasp the most important facts this book presents:
01 Islam is not ISIS and ISIS is far removed from the best of Islam.
02 Only Muslims — the other 99% of Muslims who are not ISIS — can crush ISIS. MY COMMENT: they need to start by crushing Saudi Arabia's royal family that exports Wahhabism and terrorism and corruption — such as the $600M “donated” to the personal account of the Malaysian Prime Minister.
03 The West needs to butt out and stop supporting Arab dictators. MY COMMENT: The author avoids the spectre of Israel and the Israeli master plan to Balkanize the region, keeping it constantly unstable with a US presence that results in US taxpayers paying $30,000 a year for every Israeli man, woman, and child, roughly ten times what we give any other country. See also Ambassador Mark Palmer's utterly superb Breaking the Real Axis of Evil: How to Oust the World's Last Dictators by 2025.
POINTED OBSERVATION: I rarely review books I do not like, and if I give a book five stars I earnestly recommend it. The negative points below are offered in the spirit of making this work better and helping those who read it understand that it does have flaws — as a general rule I recommend that all readers assume that 20-25% of any given book is going to range from flat-out wrong to well-intentioned mis-perception. This is why multiple points of view (other books) are essential on everything.
The greatest overall omission in the book is the reality that ISIS is a combination of theater serving the Saudi-US-Israeli narrative, and ISIS is an employment service, its single most attractive aspect for most of its recruits is the offer of food, housing, and pay. It is juvenile — which the author is not but perhaps others modified this offering — to say that “madness” is the key characteristic of all those joining ISIS. A more accurate evaluation — the author is certainly capable of this — would be a combination of despair and anger. “Madness” as in the Madness of Queen Hillary? I don't think so.
It is a shame that the author does not do more with the work of Ahmet S. Yayla, a Turkish scholar now teaching in the US, who has done some superb direct interviews with ISIS members, see for instance, Isis Defectors: Inside Stories of the Terrorist Caliphate.
The author could also have done more to highlight the work of the Dutch teen-ager who knows more about ISIS than the entire US Intelligence community — explore this at PhiBetaIota dot net, search for Dutch teen-ager.
There are some errors of fact in the book, for example in accepting Al Qaeda as a real terrorist group rather than a PSYOP pre-cursor to ISIS, and accepting that Al Qaeda did 9/11 or that 19 of them were Saudi citizens (they did not and they were not, the Saudi's provided the passports, they were all patsies for the US-Israeli execution of the greatest false flag operation in history), along with specious claims that Syria used chemical weapons against its own public (that has in fact been a UK-US intelligence operation to fake the fact, the next fakery will be a chemical attack against US troops that “justifies” a US invasion of Syria — the early emails of UK contractors discussing this false flag operation are in the ether). Search for 9/11 @ Phi Beta Iota and syria gas site:phibetaiota.net as well as ISIS @ Phi Beta Iota.
The author is also facile if not dissembling when he blames ISIS for restoring slavery while claiming that slavery has been abolished all over the world. There are more slaves in the USA today than there were at the beginning of the Civil War — the Latino slaves on large agricultural tracts; the Asian slaves in textile sweatshops; the Eastern European slaves in the sex trade; and of course the black prisoners — more blacks have been put in jail in the USA to build furniture and manufacture license places since Bill and Hillary Clinton put forward the Crime Bill, than in all prior administrations. See in passing — the tip of the iceberg — Nobodies: Modern American Slave Labor and the Dark Side of the New Global Economy.
I also have a problem with the author's glorification of Malala Yousafzai, whom I consider to be another covert action / public influence operation whose Nobel Prize is as deserved as the one Barack Obama received for his first ten days in office. Her tragic suffering was plucked from obscurity by a very large very capable covert operations influence machine.
On balance the two most important points this book makes are that Islam is not ISIS and that the West needs to stop supporting Saudi Arabia. I agree.