Jihad and Adaptation

If modern-day jihadists inhabit a ‘strategic culture’, it is not one locked into a narrow medieval nostalgia, but one that feeds off outsiders and even enemies. Learning from the infidel and borrowing and recasting their ideas is just one reason why we should avoid the trap of thinking of militant jihadists as throwbacks to another era.

So thanks to Praveen Swami, the Daily Telegraph’s Diplomatic Editor, for linking to my book in making this point about the Chechen figure who apparently orchestrated the recent attack in Moscow:

Back in 2004, the Russian jihad commander who founded the organisation which carried out this week’s murderous attack in Moscow set about writing an inspirational manifesto for his followers.

He turned, bizarrely enough, to the Brazilian New Age novelist Paulo Coelho for inspiration.

“In late March of last year,” Shamil Basayev wrote in the preface of The Book of the Mujahid, “I had two weeks of spare time when I got hold of Warrior of the Light: A Manual. I wanted to derive benefits for the mujahideen from this book and this is why I rewrote most of it, removing some of the excesses.”

Modern jihad meets Brazilian New Age novelist: war’s ironies never end.