The Mind of the Islamic State

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A deep dive into how the ideologues behind Salafi jihadism shaped the global menace that we now know as Islamic State. If you want to understand how it all began, this is an essential read.’
– Martin Chulov, Middle East correspondent for the Guardian , winner of the 2015 Orwell Prize for journalism

So often in history, it is ideas that kill . . .

What are the ideas that drive the Islamic State? How did it develop its unique form of apocalyptic violence?

In this gripping account, Robert Manne traces how the Islamic State’s worldview evolved, from the 1960s prison writings of Sayyid Qutb all the way to its glossy online magazine of horror, Dabiq . He reveals the crucial role of texts such as The Management of Savagery , and figures such as al-Zarqawi, who set out to pit Sunni against Shia, thus tearing Iraq apart.

Shortly after the fall of Mosul in June 2014, US General Michael Nagata commented on the struggle against the Islamic State: ‘We have not defeated the idea. We do not even understand the idea.’
By examining the beliefs and strategies at the heart of the Islamic State, Manne shows the spiral into terror and brutality as a dark ideology came into being.

‘In the years since the spectacular emergence of al-Qaeda on September 11, 2001, and of its step-child the Islamic State a dozen years later, a great deal of thought has been devoted to how to kill jihadists, much less to how to understand them. In The Mind of the Islamic State Robert Manne has given us a crystal-clear guide to jihadist thought: why they do what they do and why they believe what they believe. Essential reading for anyone interested in terrorism and how it has evolved, this concise but thorough study takes one on a rich and fascinating journey of ideas, introducing a rogue’s gallery of beguilingly dark characters. The Mind of the Islamic State is intellectual history at its most vital. The stakes could not be higher.’
– Mark Danner, author of Spiral: Trapped in the Forever War and Stripping Bare the Body