A Guide to Militant Islam in the US
by Steven Emerson
Prometheus Books, New York; 2006. 535pp. $28.98
Reviewed by Hayden B. Peake
Studies in Intelligence (CIA)
In his 2002 book, American Jihad, journalist Steven Emerson, reported on the extensive terrorist networks in 11 American cities. He presented unequivocal evidence that "infiltration of radical Islamism into our Society" was an ongoing reality as early as 1992. He concluded that, despite the successful arrests and trials that followed the first World Trade Center bombing in 1993, further investigation of the organizations that carried it out might have prevented the 9/11 attack. In the post 9/11 world, Emerson decided to tackle that problem with his own organization, The Investigative Project on Terrorism. In the five years since, despite new laws and organizational changes in the United States, he concludes the problem has not been solved and in many ways has grown worse. JIHAD Incorporated reports the current situation and tries to answer the question: "to what extent does radical Islamic activity in the United States today pose a threat to national security at home and abroad?" (21) In searching for an answer, it should be kept in mind that Jihad is an old, well established and uniquely Islamic institution that regulates, with its own rules, the relations of Muslims with non-Muslims to this day.
This book has three parts. The first looks at al Qa'ida in the United States. The second examines other terrorist networks operating here -- Hamas, Hizballah, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and the Pakistani Jihadist Network. These he says are well trained and ready to "fight for Jihad." The third part is the largest, covering networked groups operating in the United States--charities, foundations, and benevolence organizations, each with Web sites and sources of financing. Kindhearts, for example, is supposed to provide emergency relief to Muslims, including, sanitation services, medical and health care, vocational training and education to refugees. In fact, Emerson writes, it is a conduit for terrorist financing with connections to Hamas. A related organization known as the SAAR network, whose members are "scholars, businessmen, and scientists from the Middle East," (383) is a 501(c)(3) foundation incorporated in Herndon, Virginia, with "known ties to radical Islamist groups." Also discussed are the Mosques in America, which provides recruiting centers and other terrorist support functions. These are just three examples of anti-Western groups supporting the global jihad. Chapter 12, "Jihadi Webmasters," is particularly disconcerting in describing how terrorists use the Internet to meet their communications needs. Whatever the answer to these problems, Emerson see cyberspace as a major player on both sides.
In covering what is being done by the FBI and intelligence agencies to counter these groups, he barely mentions, for reasons unexplained, the Department of Homeland Security. He lists the arrests that have been made since 9/11, but he concludes the battle is not close to being won because terrorist resources in money and manpower are just too great. This work is an excellent, though dispiriting, survey of radical Islamist activities in America. Jihad Incorporated ends without proposing any solutions, which presumably is a task left to professionals.
Hayden B. Peake is curator of the CIA's Historical Intelligence Collection.