Small Wars Journal

Understanding Terror Networks

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Understanding Terror Networks

Book Review by Major Ian S. Davis

Download the full article: Understanding Terror Networks

Citation: Sageman, Marc. Understanding Terror Networks. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2004. 220 pages. $29.95 hardcover.

The global Salafi jihad is a complex social movement intent on the defeat of Western powers and the establishment of the Caliphate. Marc Sageman's Understanding Terror Networks examines the ideological foundation Safali jihad organizations and the role that social networks play in the expansion of radical Islamic extremism throughout the world. Sageman's diverse professional background with both practical and scientific experience lends to the credibility of his research-based argument. A Harvard graduate with doctoral degrees in medicine and political sociology from New York University, Sageman served as a U.S. Foreign Service officer in Islamabad, Pakistan during the Afghan-Soviet war from 1987 to 1989. After leaving the Foreign Service in 1991, he entered the field of forensic psychology and studied the psychological and sociological explanations of collective violence. Sageman's arguments are free of political bias and supported by scholarly literature and empirical data. The first two chapters of the book, "The Origins of the Jihad" and "Evolution of the Jihad," examine the ideological foundation of the Salafi jihad. The next three chapters, "The Mujahedin," "Joining the Jihad," and "Social Networks," examine the psychological, sociological, and organizational factors of the global Salafi jihad. Finally, Sageman offers recommendations for illuminating and defeating Salafi jihad networks.

Download the full article: Understanding Terror Networks

Major Ian Davis has over 22 years of active duty service with the majority of his career assigned to 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne) in key enlisted and officer operational billets. He is currently a student at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California in the Defense Analysis program.

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Great review. I got to hear him lecture on terrorism at SDSU, and you have condensed his analysis spot-on.

But I don't think he was really an FSO...