Nov 29 2008

If you want to understand the terrorist threat

Category: Islam,terrorismharmonicminer @ 10:23 am

In India, there are 143 200 known dead (!), and 700 wounded, with the death toll rising, as more bodies are found and people die of their wounds. There will be lots of investigation and speculation, but in the end, there isn’t much doubt that Islamic fascist terrorists are behind it.

There has been one claim of responsibility: a group calling itself the Deccan Mujahideen, which e-mailed news organizations on Thursday claiming it had carried out the attacks. The group, previously unknown, may be connected with (or even an alias of) the Indian Mujahedin, which claimed responsibility for several terrorist strikes earlier this year. Indian terrorism experts say that both are likely to have connections to, or simply be renamed versions of, older Indian militant groups such as the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Toiba or the Students Islamic Movement of India. (See pictures of two days of terror in Mumbai.)

Yet the scale and sophistication of the Mumbai attacks – which appear to have involved dozens of militants using assault rifles, grenades and explosives to simultaneously attack multiple targets – raise suspicions of involvement by more than one group, which would involve an unprecedented level of coordination.

“This is an operation of a very new type in India,” wrote Walid Phares on his well-respected Counterterrorism Blog. “The ’emirs’ have sent these armed elements in their 20s to strike at Indian psyche. One goal is to sink the Pakistani-Indian rapprochement … The goal is to target India as a power engaged in the war on terror but also to further destabilize the region, including Pakistan and its neighbor Afghanistan.”

So, my suggestions for reading, if you really want to understand the threat:

The Crisis of Islam by Bernard Lewis

The Looming Tower by Lawrence Wright

America Alone by Mark Steyn

The Al Qaeda Reader by Raymond Ibrahim

World War IV, by Norman Podhoretz

The Nuclear Jihadist by Douglas Frantz and Catherine Collins

These are each very different kinds of books.  Between them, they provide a reasonably rounded picture of the challenge.  If you have not read these books, and if you get most of your news and understanding about Islamic extremism from TV and the major media, you are probably ill informed about the situation we face.  Do you have enough imagination to foresee the possibility of an event in Los Angeles or Chicago paralleling recent events in Mumbai?  Or something worse?

The analysis of threats involves the same thing as a murder investigation: means, motive and opportunity.  The national security types think in terms of “intentions” and “capabilities”, i.e., there is little threat to the US from Great Britain’s military, even though it has significant capability, because it does not have the intent to attack the USA.

These books, between them, will help you understand the historical background and current status of Islamic extremism, identify the major players and their connections, and understand the steps that have been taken so far to prevent them from further success, as well as chronicling failures and identifying probable future threats.

Or, instead of finding out what’s really going on in the world, you can just hope the government is taking care of it, and that the New York Times is really telling you all you need to know.  Ignorance is bliss, for awhile.  Maybe if we just send more aid, and withdraw all American troops from the world, then they’ll just leave us alone.  Or not.

If, after reading these, you find that you have the desire to read more (and there is a LOT more), you can send email to me at  If there is interest, I’ll post another list.

UPDATE:  In response to a reader email, here is a counterpoint to what some see as the “too even-handed” approach to Islam by Bernard Lewis.  I guarantee you will learn some things.  Do you know what the Islamic doctrine of “abrogation” is?  If not, you need to read this book, because there’s probably a lot more you don’t know, and don’t even know you should be asking.

The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam and the Crusades by Robert Spencer

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