The Rise of ISIS

Anonymous New York Review of BooksAugust 13, 2015 issue

The author has wide experience in the Middle East and was formerly an official of a NATO country. We respect the writer’s reasons for anonymity. —The Editors

ISIS: Inside the Army of Terror
by Michael Weiss and Hassan Hassan
Regan Arts, 270 pp., $14.00 (paper)

ISIS: The State of Terror
by Jessica Stern and J.M. Berger
Ecco, 385 pp., $27.99

Ahmad Fadhil was eighteen when his father died in 1984. Photographs suggest that he was relatively short, chubby, and wore large glasses. He wasn’t a particularly poor student—he received a B grade in junior high—but he decided to leave school. There was work in the garment and leather factories in his home city of Zarqa, Jordan, but he chose instead to work in a video store, and earned enough money to pay for some tattoos. He also drank alcohol, took drugs, and got into trouble with the police. So his mother sent him to an Islamic self-help class. This sobered him up and put him on a different path. By the time Ahmad Fadhil died in 2006 he had laid the foundations of an independent Islamic state of eight million people that controlled a territory larger than Jordan itself.

The rise of Ahmad Fadhil—or as he was later known in the jihad, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi—and ISIS, the movement of which he was the founder, remains almost inexplicable. The year 2003, in which he began his operations in Iraq, seemed to many part of a mundane and unheroic age of Internet start-ups and a slowly expanding system of global trade. Despite the US-led invasion of Iraq that year, the borders of Syria and Iraq were stable. Secular Arab nationalism appeared to have triumphed over the older forces of tribe and religion. Different religious communities—Yezidis, Shabaks, Christians, Kaka’is, Shias, and Sunnis—continued to live alongside one another, as they had for a millennium or more. Iraqis and Syrians had better incomes, education, health systems, and infrastructure, and an apparently more positive future, than most citizens of the developing world. Who then could have imagined that a movement founded by a man from a video store in provincial Jordan would tear off a third of the territory of Syria and Iraq, shatter all these historical institutions, and—defeating the combined militaries of a dozen of the wealthiest countries on earth—create a mini empire? Read More »

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World Trade Center Surviving PATH Subway Car Arriving in East Haven

Brian McCready East Haven Patch

The Shore Line Trolley Museum has announced that they have reached an agreement with The Port Authority to receive PATH Car 745, which was in the PATH station under the North Tower of the World Trade Center and survived the 9/11 attack.

The PATH car

The PATH car

The museum and East Haven Mayor Joseph Maturo, Jr. will be receiving the car on Thursday August 6th at 11:15 a.m., as it arrives at its location on River Street in East Haven. The vehicle will be given traditional Bagpipe Parade with a Police and Fire escort from the corner of River and Hemingway Avenue down to the location of the Trolley Museum at 17 River Street.

The short route is expected to be lined with emergency service personnel from the East Haven and Branford along with other area departments. Read More »

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Ground Breaking Ceremony Held for Hayward 9/11 Memorial

Vic Lee ABC 7

HAYWARD, Calif. — A ground breaking ceremony was held in Hayward Friday on the site where a stone memorial will be built to memorialize victims of 9/11 and first responders.

The city of Hayward donated all the land and the construction material will be donated by the public. Crew hope to complete the memorial in the fall.

Among the names that will be inscribed on the stone tablets is Hayward police Sgt. Scott Lunger.

The memorial is dedicated to victims of 911, three Hayward police officers and a firefighter who died in the line of duty, but those who attended the ground breaking were deeply saddened. “When we planned this we didn’t know that. Sadly this week we’re going to have another name to add to that list,” Hayward Mayor Barbara Halliday said. Read More »

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