Readings on the Islamic State

By Erik Goepner

What ISIS Really Wants” by Graeme Wood, The Atlantic

A provocative and interesting article, Wood suggests that while much of what the Islamic State does makes no sense to a Western mind, their actions are, largely, sensible “in light of a sincere, carefully considered commitment to returning civilization to a seventh-century legal environment, and ultimately to bringing about the apocalypse.”

Wood goes on to assert that the Islamic State is, as they claim, Islamic. He yields the point that IS has attracted some psychopaths, but that the preaching of IS results from “coherent and even learned interpretations of Islam.”

Of particular interest to policy makers, Wood argues that ignoring IS’ “intellectual genealogy” will promote U.S. responses that inadvertently strengthen the group. Similarly, he cautions against assuming that if religious ideology does not matter much in Washington, it must not matter in Iraq and Syria.

What is the State of Islamic Extremism: Key Trends, Challenges and Implications for U.S. Policy?

Testimony before the House Armed Services Committee, 13 February, by Lt Gen (ret) Flynn, Dr. Lynch, professor at George Washington, and William Braniff, Executive Director National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism.

Of note, Mr. Braniff referenced scholarly research that suggests one of the critical predictors of increased terrorist group lethality is competition among terrorist groups. Each group attempts to “outbid” the others in terms of attacks.

Image Credit: Mo Riza

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