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Saturday, September 29, 2007

The True Face of Jehadis by Amir Mir- book review by amrita rajan

These are men of different beliefs and different goals, working in tandem or on their own in a murky world where loyalties shift with dizzying speed and end objectives quickly dilute themselves into survival tactics. He introduces us to the Pakistani Army, the ISI, various terror outfits that frequently change their names to keep one step ahead of alerts that go out from international agencies, and the main players in these circles such as Dawood Ibrahim (a man he pegs as someone possibly more or as dangerous as Osama bin Laden without the kind of worldwide notoriety the latter has achieved) and Ayman al-Zawahiri (whose connection to terror in Pakistan has been overshadowed by his decision to join Osama bin Laden).

He breaks down the acronyms so many of us see on a daily basis - such as the HuM, LeT and JeM, etc - into portraits of real people rather than the one massive block of terror organizations they sometimes appear to be. It’s a world full of rivalry and warfare, death and betrayal.

Eventually, one gets the impression that one is peeping into an alternate universe. I came away at the end of the book unable to comprehend the daily reality of these men (and women). I can see them clearly, but their lives are not merely foreign, they are thoroughly alien.

[caveat: ams is a fellow contributing editor at desicritics - for more click on the heading]


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