This is the hardest book I've ever read, nothing comes close and I spent a great amount of time with a look of sheer horror on my face. In fact my face was fixed in a wincing expression all through the last section of the book, the last couple of years in this telling of IS are absolutely harrowing.
The story of ISIS, Islamic State, is a story that has been a frequent runner in the news for many years and for good reason. It's a real life horror story of the worst kind, filled with death on the scale of genocide and it shows no signs of abating.
I wanted to understand why, what's the motives of these terrorists, what do they want, what's the end game and how close are we to it. Well Empire of Fear gives you all that, from the history of its first incarnation, from Al-Qaeda to the present day situation and a trail of murder on such a scale that it's impossible to digest. Something that's moving rapidly forward from country to country and getting ever closer to Europe.
And the worrying fact that amidst the masses of Syrians desperate to get asylum in Europe and there's a lot of them. Amongst the deaths of children and families seeking passage across the sea, there's people getting rich from providing transport fraught with danger. Countries are clamouring to assist, helping the refugees is now a necessity but how many terrorists are amongst the millions of refugees, how long before the war comes to our shores. This is my big worry with the immigration tsunami that is heading our way.
Now Islamic state has a plan, it's documented and well known, just search for the seven steps of Islamic State on the interweb.
The First Phase Known as "the awakening" -- this has already been carried out and was supposed to have lasted from 2000 to 2003, or more precisely from the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 in New York and Washington to the fall of Baghdad in 2003. The aim of the attacks of 9/11 was to provoke the US into declaring war on the Islamic world and thereby "awakening" Muslims.
Worryingly and for the most part, only two phases remain.
Phase Six begins in 2016 and it will be a period of “total confrontation.” The caliphate will be declared and the “Islamic army” will go to war with non-believers.
In the Seventh Phase, “definitive victory” is accomplished because a war-weary world will succumb to the sheer magnitude of “one-and-a-half-billion Muslims.” All to be accomplished by 2020.
According to a map, said to be issued by the Islamic State, it plans to take control of the Middle East, North Africa, most of the Indian subcontinent and parts of Europe, within the next five years, to complete its caliphate.
ISIS have up to 50,000 members and cash and assets of nearly 2 billion pounds, partly due to their control of oil and gas fields in Iraq and Syria, no surprise that Iraq is one of the most corrupt nations on the planet. They are run like a business and they produce a yearly report, only this report details death, the bombs they've set off, the casualties amassed. Sickening stuff it has to be said.
The updates to this read inspired discussion of terrorist funding, immigration issues throughout Europe and their integration into society, radical preachers that stir up hatred and the Syrian refugee crisis. Each topic forces a hell of a lot feeling to come out and it’s all from amongst your average members of society, the story tells of things that are slowly becoming inevitable and indescribably horrific.
This book contains an in-depth look at Islamic State, it's terrifying, to be honest you just wouldn't go anywhere near where all this is happening and it seems just a matter of time before things escalate even further. It needs stopping and its infuriating when government leaders have to explain why they've sanctioned killing terrorists, was it necessary? It seems there's always people willing to question these difficult decisions. Everyone has rights even terrorists who kill innocents, behead hostages, not in my book they don't. The only way this can be stopped is with force, anybody who thinks differently is living under an umbrella of righteousness and they need to step out and feel the rain. The only way, is for everyone and I mean everyone including Russia, to band together and do what needs to be done.
The things that shocked me the most (absolutely everything but there's an order to this because events are common place), the things that leave a lasting impression burnt into your mind, is IS using children and people with Down syndrome as suicide bombers. In Syria, IS has an army of kids trained to fight, called the 'lion cubs of Khalifa'. There's video footage of these dead eyed youngsters committing atrocities you just can't believe, murdering hostages, head shots etc, it's shocking and sickening. And the treatment of women, a commodity to be used, rape is common place, they have numerous wives and it’s a reward for fighting. The list is simply never ending and it’s so horrific that everything begins to bleed into one another, not specific events but a catalogue of horror that leaves you dumbstruck, stunned and speechless.
Empire of Fear was a buddy read with Tanja and Troy, and I think it's an incredibly taxing subject, mentally draining and not one to be dealt with every day (hopefully, next up is happy days in happyvalley with sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll). It’s absolutely harrowing, soul destroying levels of violence and it’s happening every day, we just don’t get to hear about it unless you purposefully search for the news reports and information.
Empire of Fear is informative without a shadow of doubt, presented in a manner that leaves nothing to the imagination and it’s something that needs to be understood and eradicated, completely. Syria is a nation of people desperate to leave the country they were born in but where do they go and how, the answer is to treat the cause and not the effect (justification isn't needed). Only then will these people feel safe in their own country.
'How we've dealt with Islamic State has been a failure of the collective imagination, the failure to predict what might happen if too little was done to bring security, justice, human dignity and peace to a deeply troubled region.'
Islamic State have fondly portrayed the caliphate as the land of plenty, happy scenes all-around but it couldn't be further from the truth and there are still converted radicals flocking to the area to take part in the fight.
If you want the full story of what's going on in the Middle East and Islamic State then this book tells it all, it is however completely oppressive and overwhelming, you can't help but take a break from reading it because you just feel it could swallow you whole and spit you out a shell of the person you were. It is intensely distressing but I had to read it and I'm glad I now have the knowledge concerning the troubles of the Middle East. And my apologies for the longish review.