Thursday, November 24, 2016

Rise of ISIS by Jay Sekulow (Book Review #63 of 2016)

Rise of ISIS: A Threat We Can't Ignore

(I finished this book concurrently with other books examining Al Qaeda and the rise of ISIS in the Middle East and this review should be read in the context of the other books. A list of many of the books is at the bottom of this post.)

A short book that even includes a link to Jay Sekulow's band playing a patriotic song. Not scholarly or well-cited; it seems a quick publish to make a buck on the line of books with "ISIS" in the title. The mission of the book isn't to talk about ISIS at all, but to redirect attention back to terrorist attacks against Israel by Hamas and Palestinian organizations. Sekulow is an attorney affiliated with the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ). David French, One of the listed co-authors, is a writer for National Review who (with his wife) rejected Trump as a political candidate and felt the wrath in the form of anti-semitic threats.

The book is a bait-and-switch to compare ISIS to Hamas as well as a call to arms for a defense of the world against ISIS and Israel against its enemies. The author rails against the "International Left" that has its head in the sand about radical Islam. Another goal seems to be informing the reader of how to talk to his Congressman or Senator. Sekulow seems ignorant of what the "surge" in Iraq and the strategy of COIN did-- namely pay militants not to fight the US and to consolidate Sunni tribes to fight for their own interests.

There is little deep examination of ISIS in this book. ISIS, Hamas, and Al Qaeda don't hesitate to attack from schools, mosques, hospitals and others where children and innocents will be killed if nations respond in self-defense. Sekulow writes that the Red Cross is somewhat complicit in that it does not condemn this behavior. He makes a war crimes case against all the extremists. ISIS violates Sharia law in its brutality and murder of other Muslims, the author writes. Hamas uses international aid to buy weapons and dig tunnels under Israel. The author does not acknowledge any Israeli overreach in the occupied territories over the last 40 years. I am not sure it helps his cause to mix Hamas in with ISIS, especially when he is selling a book on false pretenses. The ACLJ is intent on confronting "lawfare" by sympathizers of radical Islam.

The author is very critical of Obama, writing that he has "lost all moral credibility" in his policies of withdrawal from Iraq, appeasing of Palestinians, and refusal to do much of anything about ISIS. Again, there is no wider context given for any of Obama's decisions, or the realities he inherited from the Bush administration. I give this book 1 star. Don't waste your time or money.

Other Al Qaeda and ISIS-related books reviewed in 2016:
The Siege of Mecca - Yaroslav Trofimov (5 stars)
The Bin Ladens - Steve Coll  (4 stars)
Growing Up Bin Laden - Najwa and Omar Bin Laden (4.5 stars)
Guantanamo Diary - Mohamedou Ould Slahi (4.5 stars)
The Black Banners - Ali Soufan (5 stars)
Black Flags: The Rise of ISIS - Joby Warrick (4.5 stars)
Jihad Academy: The Rise of the Islamic State - Nicholas Henin (4.5 stars)
ISIS: The State of Terror - Jessica Stern and JM Berger (4 stars)
ISIS Exposed  - Erick Stakelbeck (2.5 stars)
Rise of ISIS - Jay Sekulow and David French (1 star)

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