Book Reviews

Sniffing the Roots of Jihadist Terrorism

Charles Allen is a much published historian of the old British Raj, and one might think that a man focused on the history of Britain in India couldn’t have much to contribute to understanding today’s Global Jihad – which would be an entirely erroneous assumption. His book God’s Terrorists: The Wahhabi Cult and the Hidden Roots of Modern Jihad (Little, Brown; London; 2006) is an impressive study of the early origins of the problem.

Allen researched the early history of the Saudi-based Wahhabi sect and found that they had made many inroads into the Muslim communities of what is now India and Pakistan back in the early 19th Century. Moreover, these Wahhabis of the Raj (who eventually formed the Deoband School) then had a long history of violence, subversion and clandestine behaviours that frequently caused considerable trouble for the many local rulers and the British. Of particular interest was the attraction of Wahhabi Islam to the Pashtun peoples of Pakistan and India, and the subsequent effect on the old Northwest Frontier of the Raj.

Allen points out that much of the activity undertaken by today’s Wahhabi Jihadists has its roots in India and Pakistan, and that much of what we see now is a repeat of a longer history than many observers of the Jihad had suspected. This is a fascinating history and well worth anyone’s investment of time.

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