Magazine article Foreign Affairs

Jihad & Co.: Black Markets and Islamist Power

Magazine article Foreign Affairs

Jihad & Co.: Black Markets and Islamist Power

Article excerpt

Middle East Jihad & Co.: Black Markets and Islamist Power BY AISHA AHMAD. Oxford University Press, 2017, 336 pp.

This book is one of a kind, and so is its author. Ahmad is a female Muslim scholar born into a family of smugglers in Peshawar, Pakistan, who has engaged in extensive field research in two of the most dangerous places on earth: Afghanistan and Somalia. She offers a simple and compelling hypothesis regarding the relationship between business elites and jihadists. Anarchy of the type that prevails in Afghanistan and Somalia raises the costs of doing business and shrinks profits margins. By embracing Islam, sincerely or strategically, and cooperating with jihadists, businesspeople help construct a sort of "moral" black market in smuggled goods, in which actors voluntarily comply with contracts. …

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