The rise of militant jihadist groups is one of the greatest international security crises in the world today. In civil wars across the modern Muslim world, Islamist groups have emerged out of the ashes, surged dramatically to power, and routed their rivals on the battlefield. From North Africa to the Middle East to South Asia, these jihadist groups have seized large swaths of territory and consolidated political control over disparate ethnic and tribal communities.
Out of the most broken and ungovernable places on earth, they have built radical new jihadist proto-states out of enduring anarchy.
Why have these ideologically-inspired Islamists been able to build state-like polities out of enduring civil war stalemate, while so many other powerful armed groups have failed to gain similar traction? What makes jihadists win? In Jihad & Co., Aisha Ahmad argues that there are hard economic reasons behind Islamist success. By tracking the financial origins of jihadists in Afghanistan, Somalia, Pakistan, Mali, and Iraq she uncovers the secret role an important but often-overlooked
class plays in bringing Islamist groups to power: the local business community.
To uncover the hidden nexus between business and Islamist interests in civil war, Ahmad journeys into war-torn bazaars to meet with these jihadists and the smugglers who financed their rise to power. From the arms markets in the Pakistani border region to the street markets of Mogadishu, their stories reveal a powerful economic logic behind the rise of Islamist power in civil wars. Behind the fiery rhetoric and impassioned ideological claims is the cold hard cash of the local war economy. By
bringing the reader from the mosque to the market, Ahmad explains exactly why business, far more than religion, explains the rise of militant Islamist power across the modern Muslim world.
Assistant Professor of Political Science, University of Toronto
Preface Chapter 1: Mosques and Markets Chapter 2: Black Flags in the Bazaar: The Making of Modern Islamist Proto-States Chapter 3: Mafia and Mujahideen: Trafficking and Trust-Building under Soviet Occupation Chapter 4: Traders and Taliban: Business Interests and Islamist Power in Afghanistan Chapter 5: Beards for Business: The Origins and Evolution of the Mogadishu Mafia Chapter 6: The Price of Protection: The Rise of the Islamic Courts Union Chapter 7: The Blowback Effect: International Intervention and the Collapse of the Proto-State Chapter 8: The Proto-State Goes Global: Criminal Business Networks and Jihadist Power across the Muslim World Appendix: Methodology and Field Research