* Perfect Enemy: The Law Enforcement Manual of Islamist Terrorism. By Dean T. Olson; published by Charles C. Thomas Publisher, www.ccthomas.com; 455 pages; $99.95.
While the intelligence and security communities form two pillars of counterterrorism, responsibility for investigating terrorist acts and apprehending the perpetrators remains with law enforcement. The 9-11 attacks only increased investigators’ resolve to better understand the terrorist mind-set, and why they “do what they do.” In his book Perfect Enemy: The Law Enforcement Manual of Islamist Terrorism, Dean Olson provides an in-depth view of the making of a terrorist from a historical perspective.
As a veteran law enforcement officer with experience serving on a regional joint terrorism task force, Olson brings the requisite experience lacking in other texts. Eleven well-written, thoroughly sourced chapters provide a complete overview of how religious fundamentalism evolves to manifest itself in terrorism.
The text features brief synopses of the numerous terrorist groups, providing the reader a broad view of the different aspects of radical Islamic ideology. Olson clarifies several common misconceptions held by non-Muslims, specifically misunderstandings about use of the word “jihad.” He provides the reader a basic understanding of Arabic name derivation and a clear awareness of the history of the Islamic fundamentalist.
Dispersed throughout the text are several instances of police bias. Nonetheless, Olson is fair in his analysis of the Muslim religion, which lends credence to his work, and he relies heavily on research from groups without an agenda to buttress his assertions.
In the concluding chapter, Olson provides sound solutions to combating an Islamist threat to the homeland. He should also be commended for including an extensive appendix and bibliography for those interested in challenging his work. His book is a welcome addition to the debate regarding Islam and terrorism.
As its title denotes, this text is written specifically for law enforcement personnel; however, those in the intelligence community will find it a useful tool to augment their terrorism knowledge. Academia can also use Olson’s book as an intermediate-level text for a criminal justice or intelligence-based curriculum.
Reviewer: Brian L. Royster, Ed.D., is a detective sergeant first class in the Electronic Surveillance Unit and a hostage negotiator with New Jersey State Police. He is a graduate of the FBI National Academy 214th Session and the FBI Law Enforcement Executive Development Association Command Institute for Law Enforcement Executives. He is a member of the ASIS International Crime and Loss Prevention Council.