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Justifying jihad

Date: 12th April 2017

Author: Lydia Wilson

Published on: www.the-tls.co.uk/articles/private/theology-of-isis

Islamic State at this point needs no introduction, but despite shelves of books produced on the subject since its members’ triumphant declaration of a Caliphate in June 2014, people still seem bemused as to the group’s continuing appeal. Some of these books tackle a specific element – apocalypticism, for example, in William McCants’s excellent contribution to the field, The ISIS Apocalypse (2015), or the group’s emergence in relation to the Syrian conflict so thoroughly charted by Charles Lister in The Syrian Jihad (2015). Others claim on jackets and in introductions to offer more comprehensive explanations, such as this most recent offering by Graeme Wood.

Wood delves deep into the theological underpinnings of Islamic State through an impressively global range of interviewees: we meet the Cairo tailor Hesham, trying hard to convert Wood to jihadism; Musa the Australian jihadi continuously producing and disseminating ISIS propaganda while living with his non-Muslim…

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