Must Read Articles on Extremism
Articles are not listed in any particular order. All are recommended for an improved understanding of the topic.
The Radicalization of Sunni Jihadist Groups and Their Development of a Total War Doctrine
Journal of Liberal Arts and Humanities
I strongly recommend reading this. I am very impressed with the comprehensive nature of this discussion on the evolution of thought among current extremist groups. The presence of this document on my list of must reads is an indication of how useful I think it is.
The Evolution of the Salafi-Jihadist Threat
Seth G. Jones, Charles Vallee, Danika Newly, Nicholas Harrington, Clayton Sharb, Hannah Byrne
Center for Strategic and International Studies Transnational Threats Project
An excellent discussion on the development of salafi-jihadi groups from 1980 to 2018. The report is full of critical information. One bit of disturbing data is that the estimate of fighters in 2018 is 270% higher than 2001. A lot more is in here and it is worth reading to get to it.
Anatomy of Terror: What Makes Normal People Become Extremists?
16 August 2017
This article is really great! I do not know how I did not read it when it was first published, but this needs to be read. It is about 5,000 words and intellectually more challenging than most products, but the author does a great job of making his material accessible and he connects the academic with the practical.
The Management of Savagery: The Most Critical Stage Through Which the Umma Will Pass
Abu Bakr Naji
Cambridge, Massachusetts: John M. Olin Institute for Strategic Studies
23 May 2006
This is the referenced source for the method of operation used by the Islamic State and al-Qaeda and explains their perception of violence as a means to an end.
The ISIS’ ‘Management of Savagery’ in Iraq
The World Post
June 30, 2014 [updated August 30, 2014]
This is a good summary of The Management of Savagery and its relevance to ISIS’ operations and their overall philosophy. Read this before you read the larger Management of Savagery to put that document in present context.
The Master Plan: For the New Theorists of Jihad, Al Qaeda is Just the Beginning
The New Yorker
11 September 2006
Lawrence Wright is one of the best authors writing about extremist ideologies in practice. Here he places the conduct of ISIS in the context of ideological theorists.
In Interview, Top Indonesian Muslim Scholar Says Stop Pretending That Orthodox Islam and Violence Aren't Linked
2 September 2017
One rarely reads such a candid assessment of the connection of the traditional/fundamental interpretations of the Islamic faith to the current level of violence from an Islamic leader/scholar. I have interacted with the Nahdlatul Ulama and their representatives and find that they are serious about gaining control of the narrative space of Islam from the violent extremists who have driven the debate since 9/11 (at least). The Nahdlatul Ulama seek to redefine the relationship between Muslims and their respective states and the minority or majority non-Muslim populations with whom they live. I wish Yahya Cholil Staquf and his organization all the success possible in this effort.
The Jihadi Threat: ISIS, al-Qaeda, and Beyond
Robin Wright, et al.
United States Institute of Peace
December 2016/January 2017
A great summary of where the jihadi threat came from, where it has gone, and where it may be going. For the size of the document, this is a must read for understanding the present and possible futures of ISIS and al-Qaeda.
Exploiting Disorder: al-Qaeda and the Islamic State
International Crisis Group
14 March 2016
An explanation of the four waves of jihadism since the early 1990s. This document offers support to the argument that ISIS is not the primary threat to any belligerent country.
From Calvin to the Caliphate: What Europe's Wars of Religion Tell Us About the Modern Middle East
John M. Owen IV
May/June 2015 Issue
I have serious issues with this article. I flat out disagree with the basic premises of the author and his conclusions. However, this is well written and it makes an argument that many smart people tend to make. Therefore, I think it is very much worth reading.
The Four Waves of Global Jihad, 1979-2017
Glenn E. Robinson
Middle East Policy, Vol. XXIV, No. 3, 70-88
This is an excellent summary of the transformation of jihadist thought over the last forty years. A must read to understand both how things developed over time and how it may continue to look in the near future.