The Way of the Strangers: Encounters with the Islamic State

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The definitive account of the strategy, psychology, and fundamentalism driving the Islamic State, from the author of the groundbreaking Atlantic story “What ISIS Really Wants.”

“Fascinating, terrifying, occasionally blackly humorous.”—Steven Pinker, author of The Better Angels of Our Nature, on “What ISIS Really Wants”

Tens of thousands of men and women have left comfortable, privileged lives to join the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria—and kill for it. To them, its violence is beautiful and holy, and the caliphate a fulfillment of prophecy and the only place on earth where they can live and die as Muslims.

The Way of the Strangers is an intimate journey into the minds of the Islamic State’s most radical true believers. From the streets of Cairo to the mosques of London, Graeme Wood interviews supporters, recruiters, and sympathizers of the group. We meet an Egyptian tailor who once made bespoke suits for Paul Newman and now wants to live, finally, under Shariah; a Japanese convert who believes that the eradication of borders—one of the Islamic State’s proudest achievements—is a religious imperative; and a charming, garrulous Australian preacher who translates the group’s sermons and threats into English and is accused of recruiting for the organization. We also learn about a prodigy of Islamic rhetoric, now stripped of the citizenship of the nation of his birth and determined to see it drenched in blood. Wood speaks with non–Islamic State Muslim scholars and jihadists, and explores the group’s idiosyncratic, coherent approach to Islam.

The Islamic State is bent on murder and apocalypse, but its followers find meaning and fellowship in its utopian dream. Its first caliph, Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, has declared that he is the sole legitimate authority for Muslims worldwide. The theology, law, and emotional appeal of the Islamic State are key to understanding it—and predicting what its followers will do next.

Through character study and analysis, Wood provides a clear-eyed look at a movement that has inspired so many people to abandon or uproot their families. Many seek death—and they will be the terror threat of the next decade, as they strike back against the countries fighting their caliphate. Just as Lawrence Wright’s The Looming Tower informed our understanding of Al Qaida, Graeme Wood’s The Way of the Strangers will shape how we see a new generation of terrorists.

Praise for The Way of the Strangers

“Readers are taken on a global journey to meet the frothing fans of ISIS. . . . Wood wants to know these people, to get in their skin, to understand how they see the world. Unlike most journalists writing about Islam today, there is no partisan axe to grind here, no hidden agenda to subtly advance.”New Republic

“The best way to defeat the Islamic State is to understand it. And to do that, the best place to start is [The Way of the Strangers]. . . . A series of gripping, fascinating portraits. . . . Wood has the talented journalist’s skill for interview and observation. He’s an astute psychologist and a good writer to boot. . . . It’s a great read.”The Week

“[Graeme Wood] shows, convincingly, that the stifling and abhorrent practices of the Islamic State are rooted in Islam itself—not mainstream Islam, but in scriptures and practices that have persisted for centuries. . . . The Islamic State, such as it is, is a dangerous place, and Wood’s book amounts to a tour around its far edges.”—Dexter Filkins, The New York Times Book Review 
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About the author

Graeme Wood is a national correspondent for The Atlantic. He has written for The New Republic, The New Yorker, Bloomberg Businessweek, The American Scholar, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and many other publications. He was the 2014–2015 Edward R. Murrow Press Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, and he teaches in the political science department at Yale University.


From the Hardcover edition.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Random House
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Published on
Dec 20, 2016
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Pages
352
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ISBN
9780812988765
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Features
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Language
English
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Genres
History / Middle East / General
Political Science / Terrorism
Religion / Islam / General
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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A riveting, panoramic look at “homegrown” Islamist terrorism from 9/11 to the present
 
Since 9/11, more than three hundred Americans—born and raised in Minnesota, Alabama, New Jersey, and elsewhere—have been indicted or convicted of terrorism charges. Some have taken the fight abroad: an American was among those who planned the attacks in Mumbai, and more than eighty U.S. citizens have been charged with ISIS-related crimes. Others have acted on American soil, as with the attacks at Fort Hood, the Boston Marathon, and in San Bernardino. What motivates them, how are they trained, and what do we sacrifice in our efforts to track them?
 
Paced like a detective story, United States of Jihad tells the entwined stories of the key actors on the American front. Among the perpetrators are Anwar al-Awlaki, the New Mexico-born radical cleric who became the first American citizen killed by a CIA drone and who mentored the Charlie Hebdo shooters; Samir Khan, whose Inspire webzine has rallied terrorists around the world, including the Tsarnaev brothers; and Omar Hammami, an Alabama native and hip hop fan who became a fixture in al Shabaab’s propaganda videos until fatally displeasing his superiors.
 
Drawing on his extensive network of intelligence contacts, from the National Counterterrorism Center and the FBI to the NYPD, Peter Bergen also offers an inside look at the controversial tactics of the agencies tracking potential terrorists—from infiltrating mosques to massive surveillance; at the bias experienced by innocent observant Muslims at the hands of law enforcement; at the critics and defenders of U.S. policies on terrorism; and at how social media has revolutionized terrorism.
 
Lucid and rigorously researched, United States of Jihad is an essential new analysis of the Americans who have embraced militant Islam both here and abroad.

— Washington Post, Notable Non-Fiction Books in 2016
In the dark days immediately after 9/11, the CIA turned to Dr. James Mitchell to help craft an interrogation program designed to elicit intelligence from just-captured top al-Qa'ida leaders and terror suspects.  

A civilian contractor who had spent years training U.S. military members to resist interrogation should they be captured, Mitchell, aware of the urgent need to prevent impending catastrophic attacks, worked with the CIA to implement "enhanced interrogation techniques"--which included waterboarding.

In Enhanced Interrogation, Mitchell now offers a first-person account of the EIT program, providing a contribution to our historical understanding of one of the most controversial elements of America's ongoing war on terror.  Readers will follow him inside the secretive "black sites" and cells of terrorists and terror suspects where he personally applied enhanced interrogation techniques.

Mitchell personally questioned thirteen of the most senior high-value detainees in U.S. custody, including Abu Zubaydah; Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, the amir or "commander" of the USS Cole bombing; and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the mastermind behind the September 11, 2001, terror attacks--obtaining information that he maintains remains essential to winning the war against al-Qa'ida and informing our strategy to defeat ISIS and all of radical Islam.

From the interrogation program's earliest moments to its darkest hours, Mitchell also lifts the curtain on its immediate effects, the controversy surrounding its methods, and its downfall. He shares his view that EIT, when applied correctly, were useful in drawing detainees to cooperate, and that, when applied incorrectly, they were counter-productive.  He also chronicles what it is like to undertake a several-years-long critical mission at the request of the government only to be hounded for nearly a decade afterward by congressional investigations and Justice Department prosecutors.

Gripping in its detail and deeply illuminating, Enhanced Interrogation argues that it is necessary for America to take strong measures to defend itself from its enemies and that the country is less safe now without them than it was before 9/11.
WINNER OF THE 2016 PULITZER PRIZE FOR GENERAL NONFICTION

“A Best Book of 2015”—The New York Times, The Washington Post, People Magazine, San Francisco Chronicle, Kansas City Star, and Kirkus Reviews

In a thrilling dramatic narrative, awarded the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction, Joby Warrick traces how the strain of militant Islam behind ISIS first arose in a remote Jordanian prison and spread with the unwitting aid of two American presidents.
 
   When the government of Jordan granted amnesty to a group of political prisoners in 1999, it little realized that among them was Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a terrorist mastermind and soon the architect of an Islamist movement bent on dominating the Middle East. In Black Flags, an unprecedented character-driven account of the rise of ISIS, Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Joby Warrick shows how the zeal of this one man and the strategic mistakes of Presidents Bush and Obama led to the banner of ISIS being raised over huge swaths of Syria and Iraq.
   Zarqawi began by directing terror attacks from a base in northern Iraq, but it was the American invasion in 2003 that catapulted him to the head of a vast insurgency. By falsely identifying him as the link between Saddam and bin Laden, U.S. officials inadvertently spurred like-minded radicals to rally to his cause. Their wave of brutal beheadings and suicide bombings persisted until American and Jordanian intelligence discovered clues that led to a lethal airstrike on Zarqawi’s hideout in 2006.
   His movement, however, endured. First calling themselves al-Qaeda in Iraq, then Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, his followers sought refuge in unstable, ungoverned pockets on the Iraq-Syria border. When the Syrian civil war broke out in 2011, and as the U.S. largely stood by, ISIS seized its chance to pursue Zarqawi’s dream of an ultra-conservative Islamic caliphate.
   Drawing on unique high-level access to CIA and Jordanian sources, Warrick weaves gripping, moment-by-moment operational details with the perspectives of diplomats and spies, generals and heads of state, many of whom foresaw a menace worse than al Qaeda and tried desperately to stop it. Black Flags is a brilliant and definitive history that reveals the long arc of today’s most dangerous extremist threat.


From the Hardcover edition.
¿Qué es el Estado Islámico? ¿De dónde surgió? ¿Cuáles son sus intenciones?

La guerra del fin de los tiempos, un viaje fascinante y profundo por las mentes de los verdaderos creyentes en el Estado Islámico, nos revela su psicología, su carácter y sus objetivos.

De las calles de El Cairo a las mezquitas de Londres pasando por las afueras de Melbourne, Wood sigue los pasos y entrevista a defensores, reclutadores y miembros del grupo yihadista más infame del mundo. Nos encontramos con un sastre egipcio que pasó de hacerle trajes a medida a Paul Newman a vivir bajo la sharia; un converso australiano que se dedica a traducir al inglés los sermones y las amenazas del grupo; y un clérigo musulmán autodidacta decidido a ver Estados Unidos, su nación de nacimiento, empapada en sangre.

Basado en un acercamiento sin precedentes a miembros de alto rango del Estado Islámico, este libro es una inmersión en el dogma apocalíptico sobre el que reposa la visión del mundo de este grupo. Solo si aceptamos que el Estado Islámico verdaderamente cree que el fin está cerca podremos entender su estrategia y predecir sus próximos movimientos.

Graeme Wood ofrece también un imponente y oportuno análisis aclaratorio de las diferencias y divisiones fundamentales dentro del islam, lo que da lugar a una imagen compleja y matizada que rompe por completo con los estereotipos a menudo engañosos que prevalecen en Europa.

Reseñas:
«Fascinante e indispensable. Un viaje al fin de la noche alrededor del mundo. Como individuos, los hombres con los que se topa son inadaptados, incluso perdedores. Pero su ideología milenaria los convierte en las personas más peligrosas del planeta.»
Niall Ferguson

«Un viaje global al encuentro de los rabiosos fans del Estado Islámico. A diferencia de la mayoría de los periodistas que escriben sobre el islam hoy en día, en Woodno hay visión sesgada ni una agenda oculta.»
The New Republic

«La mejor manera de vencer al Estado Islámico es entenderlo. Y para ello, la mejor manera de empezar es este libro. Una gran lectura. Deberían leer este libro.»
The Week

«El Estado islámico es un lugar peligroso, y este libro es un recorrido por sus extremos.»
Dexter Filkins, The New York Times Book Review

«Digno de Conrad. El libro más entretenido escrito sobre el estado islámico. La parte cómica emerge principalmente del desequilibrio entre la escala de las pretensiones y ambiciones de sus personajes y la banalidad de sus vidas cotidianas. Apasionante, serio y revelador.»
New Statesman

«Imprescindible. Wood desmantela una serie de reconfortantes engaños.»
National Review

«Esta es la obra definitiva sobre los orígenes, los planes y el significado de la organización terrorista más peligrosa del mundo. Wood es intrépido, incesantemente curioso y magnéticamente atractivo. Un logro.»
The Atlantic

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