Tapestry of Terror: A Portrait of Middle East Terrorism, 1994-1999
Tomarchio, Jack Thomas, Naval War College Review
Chasdi, Richard J. Tapestry of Terror: A Portrait of Middle East Terrorism, 1994-1999. Lanham, Md.: Lexington, 2002. 507pp. $80
This is a book only a statistician could love. This reviewer is not a statistician. Chasdi, a visiting assistant professor of international relations at the College of Wooster, presents a quantitative analysis of the terrorist phenomena in four regions of the Middle East: Algeria, Egypt, Turkey, and Palestine and Israel. Purportedly Chasdi attempts to examine the antecedent events and conditions in the four subject nation-states with an eye toward understanding why terrorism occurs at the systems or operational level as well as at the state and subnationalactor levels. He hopes that in doing so he will give counterterrorism planners and policy makers data to help them better craft counterterrorism policy in the future. If this sounds complex, it is. Chasdi's complicated quantitative analysis coupled with his turgid and at times unfathomable prose makes the effort even more difficult.
Tapestry of Terror is the second of a projected trilogy studying the root causes of Middle Eastern terrorism. In his first volume, Serenade of Suffering, Chasdi examines terrorism in the context of the contemporary Israeli-Palestinian-Arab conflict. He throws a wider net in his second work by examining conditions in countries as diverse as Turkey and Algeria, as well as the more widely studied Israeli, Palestinian, and Egyptian varieties of terrorism. Because comparatively less has been written about terrorism in Algeria and Turkey, these two sections are uniquely interesting. In the section relating to Algeria, Chasdi devotes considerable time to the Islamic Salvation Front, the Armed Islamic Group (GIA), and some relatively obscure splinter groups of the GIA. Unfortunately, Chasdi's examination of them falls short. Much of his analysis does not really address the basic questions of who these groups are or what constitutes their ideologies, their political, social, and religious goals, and how they differ from each other. Rather, Chasdi devotes most of his effort to studying the current state of the scholarship on different Algerian terrorist movements. …