Claiming more than three hundred lives, most of them Muslim, the attacks by ISIS in Turkey, Bangladesh, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia have created pandemonium. Since the early months of this year, ISIS has suffered a series of defeats. But the real lesson is that it will take much more than military victories to defeat ISIS.
The Terror Years: From al-Qaeda to the Islamic State
by Lawrence Wright
Lawrence Wright is one of the most lucid writers on the subject of Islamic extremism. His articles for The New Yorker have done a great deal to educate Americans who likely knew little about terrorism in the Middle East before September 11 and still are confused by it. His much-admired …
During the past few years, the CIA’s claim to having successfully tracked down Osama bin Laden through extensive intelligence work has come under scrutiny by a small group of skeptics. Seymour Hersh, the widely admired investigative journalist who uncovered the My Lai massacre in 1969, is perhaps the most insistent and vocal among them.
The Struggle for Pakistan: A Muslim Homeland and Global Politics
by Ayesha Jalal
The Army and Democracy: Military Politics in Pakistan
by Aqil Shah
No one should be surprised to read that in Pakistan the army has taken charge, established military courts, derailed democracy, brought television and other media under military control. Nor should one be surprised to learn that foreign policy and national security were being directly run by the army. Many similar situations have occurred in Pakistan since 1958, when the army first came to power in a gradual coup, declared martial law, and ruled for a decade. The country has for years been under partial military rule, outright martial law, or military authority disguised as presidential rule. But the arrangement that has evolved over the last six months is the strangest so far.
The Wrong Enemy: America in Afghanistan, 2001–2014
by Carlotta Gall
For forty years Pakistan has been backing Islamic extremist groups as part of its expansionist foreign policy in Afghanistan and Central Asia and its efforts to maintain equilibrium with India, its much larger enemy. Now Pakistan is undergoing the worst terrorist backlash in the entire region.
The advance of regime forces comes at a time when US President-elect Donald Trump has said that he would seek agreement with Russia on an end to the five-year Syrian war that has claimed more than 400,000 lives. Any such US-Russia deal would leave President Bashar al-Assad in place and now much strengthened. It would mean an American abandonment of the Syrian opposition and would give Russia a permanent presence in the Middle East. Yet one of the real victors in such an outcome would also be Iran.
The suicide bomber who killed seventy-two people on Easter Sunday in a park in Lahore, Pakistan has drawn condemnation from around the world. Far less noted, however, has been the attack’s devastating effect on relations between Pakistan’s army and civilian government, which threatens to bring further instability to the country’s Punjab heartland.
At least seven people were killed when, January 20 in Kabul, a suicide bomber drove a car laden with explosives into a minibus taking forty journalists and staff of Afghanistan’s Tolo TV home after a day at the office. With the Tolo TV massacre, public patience for President Ashraf Ghani is running out.
Much of the ISIS playbook in Paris—the meticulous planning, the selection of soft targets, the multiple simultaneous attacks by different teams used to create a sense of chaos in the streets, the mayhem created—was inspired by the extremist group LET’s attack in Mumbai in 2008. LET’s most important innovation in jihadi warfare is the use of mass attacks on civilian targets.