Jihad & Co

Jihad & Co

Black Markets and Islamist Power

Book - 2017
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For two decades, militant jihadism has been one of the world's most pressing security crises. In civil wars and insurgencies across the Muslim world, certain Islamist groups have taken advantage of the anarchy to establish political control over a broad range of territories and communities. Ineffect, they have built radical new jihadist proto-states. Why have some ideologically-inspired Islamists been able to build state-like polities out of civil war stalemate, while many other armed groups have failed to gain similar traction? What makes jihadists win? In Jihad and Co., Aisha Ahmad argues that there are concrete economic reasons behindIslamist success. By tracking the economic activities of jihadist groups in Afghanistan, Somalia, Pakistan, Mali, and Iraq, she uncovers an unlikely actor in bringing Islamist groups to power: the local business community. To illuminate the nexus between business and Islamist interests in civil war, Ahmad journeys into war-torn bazaars to meet with both jihadists and the smugglers who financed their rise to power. From the arms markets in the Pakistani border region to the street markets of Mogadishu, their storiesreveal a powerful economic logic behind the rise of Islamist power in civil wars. Behind the fiery rhetoric and impassioned, ideological claims is the cold, hard cash of the local war economy. Moving readers back and forth between mosques, marketplaces, and battlefields, Ahmad makes a powerfulargument that economic savvy, as much as ideological fervor, explains the rise of militant jihadism across the modern Muslim world.
Publisher: New York, New York :, Oxford University Press,, 2017, ©2017.
ISBN: 9780190656775
Branch Call Number: 381 AHM
Characteristics: xxv, 303 pages : illustrations, maps ; 25 cm
Alternative Title: Jihad and Company

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wyenotgo
Nov 17, 2017

In this intensively researched and scholarly (and yet grittily down-to-earth) book, Aisha Ahmad explores the complex relationships that have enabled jihadist groups such as ISIL to thrive and build state-like regimes while others have failed. In a civil war economy, doing business is dangerous, difficult and expensive. Each warring faction sets up their own checkpoints, their own protection rackets. Merchants, be they legitimate or otherwise are extorted over and over, paying tolls and protection money to multiple factions; and the protection offered is unreliable. The Jihadis offer the merchant a better deal: Pay just once, at a lower price and the protection is backed by well-armed and well-trained forces. A beneficial relationship develops whereby the cost of doing business is reduced and the Jihadis have a steady source of income. Over time, rival factions are eliminated and the Jihadis gain full control, acting as a de facto government. Western powers, seeking to develop an ally on the ground to oppose the Jihadis, make the mistake of supporting some of the traditional warlords whose corruption and abuse of power caused the populace to support Jihadis in the first place (case in point: Afghanistan). So the situation repeats, with the conditions often being worse than before.
Ahmad offers no magic solution but proposes several practical actions: Incentivize the business class; engage the support and counsel of local experts who understand the dynamics; and exercise restraint in interfering in the Muslim world.

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