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Jihad Joe: Americans Who Go to War in the Name of Islam Hardcover – May 15, 2011
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From Publishers Weekly
Investigative journalist and documentary filmmaker Berger (Triple Cross) lifts the veil on the phenomenon of American jihadists in this timely and chilling examination. While most Americans were shocked when John Walker Lindh, the "American Taliban" and a U.S. citizen, was captured in Afghanistan in 2001, American citizens had been joining the international jihad for decades—Berger argues that at least 1,400 Americans have taken part in military jihad over the past 30 years. While most activity has taken place abroad, American jihadists also have struck at home—the 2009 Fort Hood, Tex., massacre, for example. Berger fears "it is likely that the American jihadist movement will succeed in a spectacular attack on home soil," and believes that knowing "why Americans take up the banner of jihad is the first step" will help to counter this problem. Drawing on detailed case studies of individual American jihadists, the author concludes that they are a diverse group and their "path to radicalization begins with a rock-solid belief that Muslims are a victim class." Berger's exposé painstakingly lays out the scope and character of the American jihadist movement and points the way to a national debate on solutions. (June)
New York Times: "J. M. Berger's "Jihad Joe," a sober, factual account of the Americans who have been lured to the cause of religious violence, offers a useful reminder that this phenomenon is nothing new, long predating the Sept. 11 attacks. ... At a time when some politicians and pundits blur the line between Islam and terrorism, Berger, who knows this subject far better than the demagogues, sharply cautions against vilifying Muslim Americans. ... It is a timely warning from an expert who has not lost his perspective."
Zenpundit: "Berger's work is detail-packed and focused, and a useful resource for that reason alone. But it is also and specifically the work of someone who has read and talked with and listened to the people he is writing about, and his work carries their voices embedded in his own commentary. It thus joins such works as Jessica Stern's Terror in the Name of God: Why Religious Militants Kill... Berger's is a book to read, certainly -- and more significantly perhaps, a book to admire."
Publisher's Weekly: "...Berger lifts the veil on the phenomenon of American jihadists in this timely and chilling examination. ... painstakingly lays out the scope and character of the American jihadist movement and points the way to a national debate on solutions."
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My only minor criticism is, I would have liked to see just a bit more discussion of the effect of humiliation, real or percieved, on the radicalization proccess. Since this is not a pyschological study of radicalization, it need not have been analyzed in clinical detail, but merely addressed in reference to the subjects and their choices.
I hope that Berger continues to write on this subject, which he clearly has a deep knowledge of. With Americans fighting in Syria as I write this, the world is providing ample material for another book.
It was interesting to see the distinction that our government made between jihadis and terrorists in the 1980s and very early 1990s. My own recollections post-9/11 is that any Muslims attempting to go overseas to fight would be considered a criminal even if the group being fought was not an American ally.
I would particularly recommend this book to young American Muslims who are just beginning to take on leadership roles in their mosques and other Muslim community organizations in the United States.