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Jihad: The Rise of Militant Islam in Central Asia Reprint Edition

37 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0142002605
ISBN-10: 0142002607
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Editorial Reviews Review

In the aftermath of September 11, as Americans tried to figure out what they were up against, many of them turned to Ahmed Rashid's masterful book Taliban, the single best account of Afghanistan's murderous regime. With Jihad, Rashid offers an indispensable companion volume on five of Afghanistan's neighbors--Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan--and "the New Great Game" about to be waged over them between China, Russia, and the United States. "The vast, empty landscape dotted with oases of vibrant populations and political ferment, sitting on the world's last great untapped natural energy reserves, is almost as unknown to Westerners as it was to Europeans in the Middle Ages," writes Rashid, a Pakistani journalist with extensive experience reporting from the region. He describes the area's "growing instability," which he credits to a strain of militant Islam just like the form propagated by the Taliban and Osama bin Laden. One of the most interesting parts of Jihad concerns Juma Namangani, a shadowy rebel leader in Uzbekistan who has "cultivated an air of mystery that [is] even more extreme than that of the secretive [Taliban leader] Mullah Omar." Rashid concludes that radical Islam will remain popular in Central Asia as long as the governments there are oppressive. We ignore this part of the world at our peril, and there is no better guide to it than Rashid. --John Miller --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Publishers Weekly

As the events of September 11 showed, neglected areas of the Islamic world are feeding grounds for international terrorism. And as Rashid, author of the best-selling Taliban, shows in this important work, Islamic fundamentalism is gaining ground in Central Asia as well as it did in neighboring Afghanistan. Until 1991, the five Central Asian countries Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan and Tajikistan were part of the Soviet Union. As Rashid discloses, the decade since then has seen a region grown increasingly despotic and impoverished, even though the countries are rich in oil. He offers brief histories of the five countries that make up Central Asia before launching into the rise of Islam. The story line Rashid skillfully weaves is relatively straightforward: Islamist groups, barely tolerated during the waning days of the U.S.S.R., experienced a revival after Communist strictures against religion were lifted. Forced to go underground as post-Communist leaders used repression to ensure their own survival, these Islamist groups "would eventually become radicalized and violent" and outsiders from the Arab world further radicalized them. The strongest group, with ties to Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida, emerged in Uzbekistan and has been brutally repressed by President Islam Karimov. Rashid pointedly focuses on how the United States has looked the other way regarding Karimov's human rights abuses as Uzbekistan has offered support for the U.S.-led war on terrorism. Without international pressure on these regimes to follow human rights standards and end the corruption that has left the societies poor, Rashid argues that Central Asia could become the world's next tinder box. (Feb.)Forecast: Rashid has proven he deserves attention and readers. He will probably get media time, but the reading frenzy about the roots of terrorism could be waning, and this book's sales may not match those of Taliban.

Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; Reprint edition (December 31, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0142002607
  • ISBN-13: 978-0142002605
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.7 x 7.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #207,204 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Ahmed Rashid is a journalist who has been covering Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Central Asia for more than twenty years. He is a correspondent for the Wall Street Journal, Far Eastern Economic Review, Daily Telegraph, and The Nation, a leading newspaper in Pakistan. His #1 New York Times bestseller Taliban has been translated into more than twenty languages.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

41 of 42 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 12, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Having spent my whole life up until very recently living and working in Central Asia for the US goverment working with aid agencies, I long ago gave up on finding a book I could share with friends that could explain the Byzantine politics of this region. Here we have countries rich in resources filled with hard working, good people and ruled by dictators that America has unwisely allied with. These dictators are fueling the hatred that will be turned against the US by our enemies.
In fact years ago Rashid warned the west about the Taliban in several articles and had to stay out of that country for years because of the danger to his life.
While the author and I have very different political philosophies, I cannot disparage his journalism. It is thorough and insightful. If you want to understand this region, don't read a book by some Western journalist who spends two weeks here and two months in a public library doing research. Read a book by a man who grew up here and has covered this region for years.
The only people who won't like this book are the despots in the Central Asian nations who are eager to rob that region of it's riches while the eyes of the world are on Afghanistan and Iraq.
It's time to head Rashid's warnings before we end up with a whole region filled with Afghanistans and Iraqs...
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29 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Kerry Walters VINE VOICE on February 1, 2002
Format: Hardcover
This book is as well-conceived, well-researched, and well-written as Rashid's earlier *Taliban*. It makes a convincing case for why Islamic terrorist groups are likely to base their operations in coming years out of central Asia's ex-Soviet states.
Two points in particular are worth considering. The first is that the collapse of the Soviet Union is still continuing to send out shock waves no one could've predicted. The USSR's abuse of the central Asian republics and their ensuing dismal economic and political status today have created a seedbed for discontent. This is sad confirmation of the destructive legacy of imperialism, regardless of whether the imperialism is practiced by the political right or left. The scond point is that the Islamic extremism that's growing in the central Asian republics isn't at all homegrown. It's imported, largely from Saudi Arabia and wahabism. The homegrown Islam of the Asian states tends to be contemplative and pietistic--Sufism. But the new imported brand, rule-bound, rigid, and obsessed with recreating an international Caliphate, is beginning to destroy the native Sufi orientation.
Rashid's "Jihad,*, just like the earlier *Taliban,* has at least one clear lesson: economic penury and Western overbearing creates material and psychological conditions that can be manipulated by terrorists. The western powers ought to take this lesson to heart. Rashid points out that, despite the growth of militant Islam in the central Asian republics, the natives there aren't particularly anti-American as yet. It remains to be seen whether they stay that way. A great deal of their attitude will surely depend on U.S. foreign policy in the months to come.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Daniel Graf on February 22, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Jihad by Ahmed Rashid provides an explanation for the rise of militant Islam in Central Asia. I purchased this book because I enjoyed another of Rashid's works, Taliban, and because it was on sale. Within the first few pages, the significance of Rashid's book is obvious. For one, the author is an objective journalist (that term should be redundant but, sadly, it isn't) with first-hand experience in the region. And, more importantly, Jihad was largely written before 11 September 2001, before our national interest in religious extremism became colored by emotion and an agenda to support USA military efforts in the Middle East.

As argued by Rashid, the seeds of today's radical Islamic movement in Central Asia were planted by Stalin. The present borders of those republics -- Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan -- were drawn by that dictator explicitly to fragment ethnic allegiances, to try and force the local populations to become homogenized (but 2nd class) members of the Soviet empire. Collectivization caused further resentment, as did Bolshevik suppression of Islam. But all the latter accomplished was to push religious practice underground and give the people a rallying point to come together against the government.

When the Soviet Union collapsed in the early 1990s, leaving former Communist Party members as presidents of the five republics, the equilibrium changed. The government was still unpopular and oppressive, and Islam was still officially to be suppressed, but the governments had lost their power to achieve their objectives. With the repeal of Soviet control came the withdrawal of Soviet forces and resources. Militant Islamic groups, suddenly free(r) to seek their own agendas, rose up to divide and topple the reigning, impotent regimes.
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55 of 69 people found the following review helpful By M. A. ZAIDI on February 21, 2002
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The question remains are we the Victor Frankenstein who has turned our back on the monster we created?
The Western perception of Jihad, influenced considerably by the crusades in the middle age is one of an Islamic holy was fought against the non-believers. Contrary to this concept the prophet of Islam Muhammad professed Greater Jihad which is one where each Muslim attempts to become a better person and struggles to improve one self, in doing so benefits the community and society in which they live. To him Jihad is an inner struggle of moral discipline. The lesser Jihad takes place to rebel against an unjust tyrant ruler, irrespective of the ruler's beliefs. Today the jihadi movement from Taliban to Osama Bin Ladens Al Qaeda to the movements in Central Asian sates have conveniently ignored the greater jihad and opted for the lesser one, this choice was a means to complete their self-indulgent political gains. These movements have assassinated the faith and hijacked the religion. Nowhere in the Muslim writings or traditions does Islam sanction the killings of the innocent.
At the heights of the Islamic civilization during, the crusades to moors to Ottoman times Muslims were tolerant and respectful for other cultures and beliefs. Our present times we witness the lows of intolerance, where fanatics measure the goodness of society by the length of a mans beard or the thickness of a woman's veil. These new Islamic fundamentalist are not interested in transforming a corrupt society into a just one, they are un-interested in providing jobs, education or social benefits, they have no viable economic agenda or a political manifesto for good governance.
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