Academic journal article Middle East Quarterly

Jihadism Transformed: Al-Qaeda and Islamic State's Global Battle of Ideas

Academic journal article Middle East Quarterly

Jihadism Transformed: Al-Qaeda and Islamic State's Global Battle of Ideas

Article excerpt

Jihadism Transformed: Al-Qaeda and Islamic State's Global Battle of Ideas. Edited by Simon Staffell and Akil Awan. New York: Oxford University Press, 2016. 296 pp. $45.

Jihadism Transformed contains eleven essays of varying quality, mostly focusing on the two main competing global Sunni jihadist movements: al-Qaeda and the Islamic State. The book examines, in particular, the narratives these groups have developed and exploited to attract recruits in different parts of the world, both in the Muslim-majority lands that represent epicenters of jihadism and in the West. The exception is an essay by Christopher Anzalone of McGill University that looks at Shiite militant mobilization in response to the perceived Sunni jihadist threat, especially in Syria.

Elisabeth Kendall of Oxford University, who has done extensive field work in Yemen, represents one of the better contributors, offering important insights into the contrasting narratives of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and the Islamic State's Yemen "provinces." AQAP, she shows, is more attuned to the local environment, making use of poetry and other local cultural material to attract an audience. In contrast, the Islamic State's less successful Yemen provinces have been too monochromatic, simply trying to exploit the Sunni-Shiite sectarian dynamic embodied in the civil war roiling in Yemen. …

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