Islamic State stunned the world when it overran an area the size of Britain on both sides of the Iraq-Syria border in a matter of weeks and proclaimed the birth of a new Caliphate. In this timely and important book, Abdel Bari Atwan draws on his unrivalled knowledge of the global jihadi movement and Middle Eastern geopolitics to reveal the origins and modus operandi of Islamic State. Based on extensive field research and exclusive interviews with IS insiders, Atwan outlines the group's leadership structure, as well as its strategies, tactics and diverse methods of recruitment. He traces the Salafi-jihadi lineage of IS, its ideological differences with al-Qa'ida and the deadly rivalry that has emerged between their leaders. Atwan also shows how the group's rapid growth has been facilitated by its masterful command of social media platforms, the 'dark web', Hollywood 'blockbuster'-style videos, and even jihadi computer games, producing a powerful paradox where the ambitions of the Middle Ages have re-emerged in cyber-space.As Islamic State continues to dominate the world's media headlines with horrific acts of ruthless violence, Atwan considers the movement's chances of survival and expansion, and offers indispensable insights on potential government responses to contain the IS threat.
Abdel Bari Atwan is a Palestinian writer and journalist. He was the editor-in-chief at the London-based daily al-Quds al-Arabi for twenty-five years and now edits the Rai al-Youm news website - the Arab world's first Huffington Post-style outlet. He is a regular contributor to a number of publications, including the Guardian and Scottish Herald, and is a frequent guest on radio and television, including regular stints on the BBC's Dateline London. Atwan interviewed Osama bin Laden twice in the late 1990s and has cultivated uniquely well-placed sources from within the various branches of al-Qa'ida and other jihadi groups, including IS, over the last twenty years. His other books include The Secret History of al-Qa'ida and After bin Laden: Al-Qa'ida, The Next Generation, as well as a memoir, A Country of Words: A Palestinian Journey from the Refugee Camp to the Front Page. www.bariatwan.com
Introduction; 1. Masters of the Digital Universe; 2. The Origins - Part One: Iraq; 3. The Origins - Part Two: The Taliban, al-Qa'ida and IS; 4. The Origins - Part Three: Syria; 5. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi: A Portrait of 'Caliph Ibrahim'; 6. Consolidation and Expansion; 7. Within Islamic State; 8. The Management of Savagery; 9. The Caliph's Foreign Fighters; 10. A Dangerous Game: The West's Attempts to Exploit Radical Islam; 11. Saudi Arabia, Wahhabism and Islamic State; Conclusion; Acknowledgements; Notes; Index