Thursday, March 10th, 2016
Authors: Anders Strindberg and Mats Wärn
Published by: Polity Press, 2011
Reviewed by: Randy Brawley
Seeing Islamism Clearly for the First Time
Reading, Islamism: Religion, Radicalization, and Resistance, reminded me of the first time I was fitted for glasses. I knew I wasn’t seeing clearly, but had no idea just how distorted my view of the world was until the optometrist let me see through the proper lens. Similarly, “Islamism,” provides the reader with a new hermeneutic lens with which to understand Islamism. Specifically, Anders Strindberg and Mats Wärn contrast the work of renowned ‘terrorism experts’ who have only looked at Islamism based on the “Etic (the researcher’s perspective),” rather than the “Emic (the research subject’s perspective) …” I acquired a distorted view of Islam from similar ‘experts’ that spoke at a terrorism conference I hosted at the Pentagon almost a decade ago. At that conference, I “learned of the pathology of Islam that leads Muslims to be more violent and prone to terrorism than peace-loving Christians.” Now, after reading Islamism, I see Islamism for what it is. At its most basic, Islamism is the application of a religion’s morals over the particular local conditions. However, Strindberg and Wärn aptly establish that Islamism is much more. For example, Islamism has been a rallying point for post-colonial subjects as they revolt from the violent and corrupt repression of their colonial masters, who have typically been from Western, ‘Christian’ countries. Islamism, provides insight into what Islamism is, what it isn’t, and what might be real vs. mythical threats.
Tuesday, January 26th, 2016
Group Name: Lashkar-e-Taiba
Principal Ideology: Muslim
Area of Operation: Pakistan, India, Afghanistan
Leadership: Pakistan’s intelligence (ISI)
Affiliated Groups: Al-Qaeda and ISI
Principal Enemy: India
Tactics: Asymmetric warfare
Lashkar-e-Taiba(LeT), or literarily “The army of God” is a sub-national politically violent (SPV) group motivated by the integration of Kashmir with Pakistan. LeT is considered one of the most capable, experienced, funded and politically backed SPV groups in the world, receiving open support from the state of Pakistan. The LeT is most commonly recognized for the 2008 Mumbai attacks. Following the Mumbai attacks, there was concern that the United States could be at risk for a similar attack, and although the LeT is entirely capable of deploying such an attack in the United States, it is unlikely. Analysis of the LeT using Social Identity Theory (SIT) can provide us with a framework to understand why they operate in a specific region, why they deploy distinctive tactics, why they are so resilient, the type of threat they pose to the US, and why the LeT should be monitored closely.