The ISIS Apocalypse: The History, Strategy, and Doomsday Vision of the Islamic State

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The Islamic State is one of the most lethal and successful jihadist groups in modern history, surpassing even al-Qaeda. Thousands of its followers have marched across Syria and Iraq, subjugating millions, enslaving women, beheading captives, and daring anyone to stop them. Thousands more have spread terror beyond the Middle East under the Islamic State's black flag.

How did the Islamic State attract so many followers and conquer so much land? By being more ruthless, more apocalyptic, and more devoted to state-building than its competitors. The shrewd leaders of the Islamic State combined two of the most powerful yet contradictory ideas in Islam-the return of the Islamic Empire and the end of the world-into a mission and a message that shapes its strategy and inspires its army of zealous fighters. They have defied conventional thinking about how to wage wars and win recruits. Even if the Islamic State is defeated, jihadist terrorism will never be the same.

Based almost entirely on primary sources in Arabic-including ancient religious texts and secret al-Qaeda and Islamic State letters that few have seen - William McCants' The ISIS Apocalypse explores how religious fervor, strategic calculation, and doomsday prophecy shaped the Islamic State's past and foreshadow its dark future.

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About the author

William McCants directs the project on U.S. Relations with the Islamic World at the Brookings Institution. He is adjunct faculty at Johns Hopkins University and a former U.S. State Department senior adviser for countering violent extremism. McCants has a Ph.D. in Near Eastern Studies from Princeton University and lives in the Washington, D.C. area.
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Additional Information

Publisher
St. Martin's Press
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Published on
Sep 22, 2015
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Pages
256
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ISBN
9781466892705
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Language
English
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Genres
History / Middle East / Iraq
Political Science / Political Ideologies / Radicalism
Political Science / Terrorism
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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An authoritative guide to the rise of the Islamic State and its senior leadership.

How did the Islamic State grow from regional terrorist group to a brutal multinational bureaucratic machine? What are its goals? How can it be stopped?

In 2014 the Islamic State seemingly appeared out of nowhere, routing Iraqi forces, conquering Iraq's second-largest city, boldly announcing the establishment of a caliphate, and declaring itself the Islamic State (IS). Today, IS controls thousands of square miles and is attempting to govern millions of people.

In this definitive guide to the Islamic State and its senior leadership, Charles R. Lister traces its roots from the release of its notorious father figure, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, from a Jordanian prison and the group's formation in Afghanistan in the late-1990s, and finally to its stunning maturation in Iraq and Syria.

The West knows IS through its unrelenting propaganda war, with its deft use of social media and videos of horrific acts. Lister shares details of IS's sophisticated revenue machine, attempts at governing, and its formidable military.

With IS knocking on the doors of Lebanon, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia, Lister's portrait helps us understand what to expect next and recommends a course of action to defeat IS, extinguish extremism, and encourage a tolerant Islam across the Middle East.

This book includes a Who's Who in the Islamic State's senior leadership.

From the foreword by Ahmed Rashid

"The Islamic State is the best basic understanding available of the ISIS phenomena and how to deal with it."

The recruitment of ISIS terrorists may have begun as an extremist crusade in Iraq, but it has quickly become a global phenomenon that is taking hold of people from diverse backgrounds, cultures, and belief systems. The iconic image of a terrorist as an old, angry, middle-eastern man is long gone. It has since been replaced by young men and women of all races and religious upbringings, in tactical gear and ski masks, carrying heavy artillery. From the outside looking into the Islamic State, most people see these men and women as nothing more than evil terrorists with a psychotic penchant for violence. Internally, they perceive themselves as freedom fighters or mujahedeen, who violate the laws of men to protect their community according to the will of Allah.

Ultimately, neither of these perceptions are based in reality.

While some experts claim that terrorist recruitment is completely random, criminologist Kimberly Mehlman-Orozco has identified clear patterns which can be used to explain how regular people are being conscripted into terrorism. Using interviews with convicted terrorists, in-depth research and analysis of extremist propaganda, and case-specific details, Dr. Mehlman-Orozco provides nuanced theories into the methods of terrorist recruitment—methods which can be used to identify persons at high risk of being targeted.

The Jihadi Next Door provides unprecedented information that can be used to actually combat terrorism. By laying bare the tactics used by ISIS to deceive and exploit new recruits and exposing the veneer these extremists operate under, Dr. Mehlman-Orozco hopes to empower readers with the knowledge needed to prevent future recruitment and thereby preventing acts of terrorism.
On the morning of September 11, 2001, the entire world was introduced to Al Qaeda and its enigmatic leader, Osama bin Laden. But the organization that changed the face of terrorism forever and unleashed a whirlwind of counterterrorism activity and two major wars had been on the scene long before that eventful morning. In Al Qaeda, the Islamic State, and the Global Jihadist Movement: What Everyone Needs to Know, Daniel L. Byman, an eminent scholar of Middle East terrorism and international security who served on the 9/11 Commission, provides a sharp and concise overview of Al Qaeda, from its humble origins in the mountains of Afghanistan to the present, explaining its perseverance and adaptation since 9/11 and the limits of U.S. and allied counterterrorism efforts. The organization that would come to be known as Al Qaeda traces its roots to the anti-Soviet jihad in Afghanistan in the 1980s. Founded as the Soviets withdrew from Afghanistan, Al Qaeda achieved a degree of international notoriety with a series of spectacular attacks in the 1990s; however, it was the dramatic assaults on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on 9/11 that truly launched Al Qaeda onto the global stage. The attacks endowed the organization with world-historical importance and provoked an overwhelming counterattack by the United States and other western countries. Within a year of 9/11, the core of Al Qaeda had been chased out of Afghanistan and into a variety of refuges across the Muslim world. Splinter groups and franchised offshoots were active in the 2000s in countries like Pakistan, Iraq, and Yemen, but by early 2011, after more than a decade of relentless counterterrorism efforts by the United States and other Western military and intelligence services, most felt that Al Qaeda's moment had passed. With the death of Osama bin Laden in May of that year, many predicted that Al Qaeda was in its death throes. Shockingly, Al Qaeda has staged a remarkable comeback in the last few years. In almost every conflict in the Muslim world, from portions of the Xanjing region in northwest China to the African subcontinent, Al Qaeda franchises or like-minded groups have played a role. Al Qaeda's extreme Salafist ideology continues to appeal to radicalized Sunni Muslims throughout the world, and it has successfully altered its organizational structure so that it can both weather America's enduring full-spectrum assault and tailor its message to specific audiences. Authoritative and highly readable, Byman's account offers readers insightful and penetrating answers to the fundamental questions about Al Qaeda: who they are, where they came from, where they're going-and, perhaps most critically-what we can do about it. What Everyone Needs to Know® is a registered trademark of Oxford University Press.
**New York Times Bestseller**

Jay Winik brings to life in “gripping” detail (The New York Times Book Review) the year 1944, which determined the outcome of World War II and put more pressure than any other on an ailing yet determined President Roosevelt.

1944 was a year that could have stymied the Allies and cemented Hitler’s waning power. Instead, it saved those democracies—but with a fateful cost. Now, in a “complex history rendered with great color and sympathy” (Kirkus Reviews, starred review), Jay Winik captures the epic images and extraordinary history “with cinematic force” (Time).

1944 witnessed a series of titanic events: FDR at the pinnacle of his wartime leadership as well as his reelection, the unprecedented D-Day invasion, the liberation of Paris, and the tumultuous conferences that finally shaped the coming peace. But millions of lives were at stake as President Roosevelt learned about Hitler’s Final Solution. Just as the Allies were landing in Normandy, the Nazis were accelerating the killing of millions of European Jews. Winik shows how escalating pressures fell on an infirm Roosevelt, who faced a momentous decision. Was winning the war the best way to rescue the Jews? Or would it get in the way of defeating Hitler? In a year when even the most audacious undertakings were within the world’s reach, one challenge—saving Europe’s Jews—seemed to remain beyond Roosevelt’s grasp.

“Compelling….This dramatic account highlights what too often has been glossed over—that as nobly as the Greatest Generation fought under FDR’s command, America could well have done more to thwart Nazi aggression” (The Boston Globe). Destined to take its place as one of the great works of World War II, 1944 is the first book to retell these events with moral clarity and a moving appreciation of the extraordinary actions of many extraordinary leaders.
For years, scholars hypothesized about what Islamists might do if they ever came to power. Now, they have answers: confusing ones. In the Levant, ISIS established a government by brute force, implementing an extreme interpretation of Islamic law. On the opposite end of the spectrum, Tunisia's Ennahda Party governed in coalition with two secular parties, ratified a liberal constitution, and voluntarily stepped down from power. In Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood, the world's oldest Islamist movement, won power through free elections only to be ousted by a military coup. The strikingly disparate results of Islamist movements have challenged conventional wisdom on political Islam, forcing experts and Islamists to rethink some of their most basic assumptions. In Rethinking Political Islam, two of the leading scholars on Islamism, Shadi Hamid and William McCants, have gathered a group of leading specialists in the field to explain how an array of Islamist movements across the Middle East and Asia have responded. Unlike ISIS and other jihadist groups that garner the most media attention, these movements have largely opted for gradual change. Their choices, however, have been reshaped by the revolutionary politics of the region. The groups depicted in the volume capture the contradictions, successes, and failures of Islamism, providing a fascinating window into a rapidly changing Middle East. It is the first book to systematically assess the evolution of mainstream Islamist groups since the Arab uprisings and the rise of ISIS, covering 12 country cases. In each instance, contributors address key questions, including: gradual versus revolutionary approaches to change; the use of tactical or situational violence; attitudes toward the nation-state; and how ideology, religion, and political variables interact. For the first time in book form, readers will also hear directly from Islamist activists and leaders themselves, as they offer their own perspectives on the future of their movements. Islamists will have the opportunity to challenge the assumptions and arguments of some of the leading scholars of Islamism, in the spirit of constructive dialogue. Rethinking Political Islam includes three of the most important country cases outside the Middle East-Indonesia, Malaysia, and Pakistan-allowing readers to consider a greater diversity of Islamist experiences. The book's contributors have immersed themselves in the world of political Islam and conducted original research in the field, resulting in rich accounts of what animates Islamist behavior.
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