Instaread Summary of The Terror Years From Al-Qaeda to the Islamic State by Lawrence Wright
Five out of five stars
The modern reality of global terrorism is a very complex issue, from the origins, the motivating factors to how to respond to it. The book being described is a collection of essays written by Wright that appeared in “The New Yorker” and other venues. One of the key points of emphasis appearing in the summary is the lamenting of how things used to be. Providing an existence proof that in many ways the terrorists have succeeded.
The repressive nature of the governments in some of the Muslim majority countries driving the continued development of terrorism is mentioned in the key takeaways. Specifically the policies of the governments of Saudi Arabia and Syria before the outbreak of the civil war. It is a continuing irony that the United States is strongly allied with what is one of the most repressive governments on Earth.
Key takeaway two makes what should be a point of emphasis when counter terrorism tactics are being considered. It is very possible that the 9/11 attacks in the United States would have been prevented if the American CIA had passed basic information to the FBI. Deliberately poor communication led to a disaster.
As is pointed out in key takeaway six, in the 1980’s there was generally a free flow of economic goods and people between Israel and the Gaza Strip. Now, the Israelis are building a wall that even extends underground, with the goal being to completely separate the two regions. Wright also mentions that when he was younger, he and a girlfriend wandered casually around an airport and were even given a tour. Given the security lines in the airports that passengers now have to traverse, the nostalgia is justified.
Although the topic of terrorism is a complex one, enough depth is given to the most significant points in this summary to inform the reader of the main reasons we find ourselves in the complex morass of modern terrorism.