THE MAGAZINE

Insurgent Iraq: Al Zarqawi and the New Generation

***** Insurgent Iraq: Al Zarqawi and the New Generation. By Loretta Napoleoni; published by Seven Stories Press, www.sevenstories.com (Web); 288 pages; $15.95.

Not a day goes by when Western media fail to mention a new attack or insurgency in Iraq, Afghanistan, or elsewhere. Especially in Iraq, attacks have been substantial for so long that the current generation of Iraqi insurgents merits serious study by itself. Loretta Napoleoni does this well.

In December 2004, Osama bin Laden recognized Abu Mos’ab al Zarqawi as the head of al Qaeda in Iraq. Napoleoni explores al Zarqawi’s history and motivation, shedding light on the man known primarily for orchestrating and videotaping horrific beheadings.

Born in 1966, al Zarqawi was trouble from the start—a rebellious youth, a gang member, an inmate. His imprisonment is said to have initiated his radicalization to what he is today.

Why is he such a powerful and well-known figure today, perhaps on the verge of eclipsing Osama bin Laden? Napoleoni suggests that Colin Powell’s 2003 speech to the United Nations about the connection between Saddam Hussein and bin Laden sparked his popularity. In fact, Napoleoni says, there was no link, and that bin Laden had a limited following in Iraq. Now, the more Western newspapers demonize al Zarqawi and exaggerate his exploits, the more popular he becomes. Some call him the Arab Zorro.

Although Napoleoni’s personal opinions seep through, Insurgent Iraq is an important piece of scholarship. The information is clear and well organized, and the discussion is excellent. A glossary, chronology, bibliography, and endnotes make this book a fine resource for security professionals with operations in Iraq or who are studying the Iraqi insurgency.


Reviewer: Adrian A. Barnie, CPP, CFE (Certified Fraud Examiner), is with the Anti-Money Laundering Unit of KeyBank in Cleveland, Ohio. He is a member of ASIS International.

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