BOOK REVIEW

Zealotry’s Attraction

Rise of ISIS: A Threat We Can’t Ignore by Jay Sekulow is a misleading title. If one expects a book explaining ISIS’s rise, readers will be disappointed. ISIS is a bazaar of violence, a term John Robb explored in his book Brave New War. ISIS has zeroed in on its main focus – Islamic belief – that loosely coordinates and binds different Islamic terror groups together to advance their Islamic beliefs.  Robb in his Global Guerrilla blog post of October 14, 2014, titled: “ISIS is the leading supplier of the most potent drug in the world,” and that drug is zealotry. This zealotry has attracted jihadists from 80 countries to come and join ISIS in its attempt to impose an Islamic Caliphate, first in the Middle East and eventually throughout the world.

“Zealotry like this,” said Robb, “is intoxicating in ways that people living in our modern, connected world can’t imagine. We’re too jaded, medicated, and apologetic (of any strong held beliefs) to understand real zealotry (particularly on a mass scale).”

Given the book’s title, one would have thought such would have been explored. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case in Sekulow’s book.  This doesn’t imply the book is without value. That value, however, lies in a different direction.

Sekulow, Chief Counsel for the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), uses his legal skills to lay out the case that ISIS violates both Islamic law as well as the International Law of Armed Conflict. He quotes the hadiths, a record of the Islamic Prophet Muhammad’s teachings, deeds, sayings,  and traditions where Muslims are forbidden to kill other Muslims unless specific conditions are met: “. . . a married adulterer, someone killed in retaliation for killing another, or someone who abandons his religion and the Muslim community,” as Sekulow points out. Conspicuous by their absence are quotes urging Muslims to kill unbelievers, apostates, and other so-called enemies of the faith. ISIS gruesomely demonstrates its barbarity by killing Muslims and non-Muslims alike in hideous manners on an almost daily basis. They ignore with impunity both the Prophet’s sayings regarding killing fellow Muslims and the International Law of Armed Conflict.

Sekulow’s book does provide a good discussion of the International Law of Armed Conflict in clear laymen’s easy to understand language.

Briefly the International Law of Armed Conflict requires all combatants to comply with the following:

  • Necessity – to attack only targets necessary to achieve a military objective;
  • Distinction – must distinguish between military and civilian targets while engaged in war;
  • Proportionality – requires combatants to only use military force necessary to accomplish military objectives and no more force than that; and,
  • When soldiers are captured or wounded, they must be treated humanely – torture, for example, is forbidden.

ISIS and other Islamic terrorists violate all of these aspects of the International Law of Armed Conflict. Hamas is Sekulow’s prime example, other than ISIS, of flaunting the international war criteria. He details the Palestinian organization’s violations such as using civilians and children as human shields and placing or storing weapons in or near schools, mosques and hospitals. Although this makes them legitimate military targets under international law, an attack will get the lap-dog liberal media to twist these as attacks on “innocent children or civilians.”

ISIS, Hamas, Hezbollah and various al-Qaeda franchises violate them at will, while the West – the U.S. and Israel – scrupulously conducts its war on the terrorism within the scope of the International Law of Armed Conflict

In addition to explaining the conduct of war, Sekulow points out the Israeli, under constant threat and attack by Hamas, is even more scrupulous than the U.S. in observing the protocols of the law of war. Israel would drop leaflets around their targets before attacking them to warn civilians to get out of the way of the pending attack. In addition to warning civilians, it also has a harmful effect in that the terrorists are warned as well, enabling them to avoid the effects of the coming attack.

Another important feature of the book is Sekulow’s revelation of the hypocrisy of both the UN and the International Red Cross. Their actions are allowing Hamas to misuse their facilities to store weapons without a peep of criticism by either. The Red Cross hypocrisy comes from its criticism of Israel attacking their facilities – legal under the law of war – while turning a blind eye to Hamas’ use of these facilities in violation of the law of war. The UN and Red Cross silence is deafening.

While Sekulow’s book is valuable for focusing on how Islamic terrorists violate the law of war and pose threats to us and Israel in particular, one wishes he would have tread the path of John Robb as well. It would have elevated the book higher, given its alluring title.

All in all, Sekulow’s book is valuable for its coverage of the law of war and his defense of beleaguered Israel is superb. His defense of our best ally in the Middle East is a far cry from the hateful, spiteful actions of President Obama, Secretary of State John Kerry and their useful liberal idiots. One possible explanation for the misleading title is likely due to the publisher’s prerogative of choosing the title in an effort to enhance their marketing in hopes of boosting sales. And indeed, Sekulow’s informative book surely has skyrocketed to a “#1 New York Times Best Seller” position in short order. Rise of ISIS is a worthwhile and informative read.


Morgan Norval is the founder and Executive Director of the Selous Foundation for Public Policy Research and a contributor to SFPPR News & Analysis.

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