The most important contribution of this book maybe that it takes the reader from thinking about the “Global War ON Terror” to the “Global War BY Terror.” Yossef Bodansky, the author of Chechen Jihad: Al Qaeda's Training Ground and the Next Wave of Terror, begins with a review of Chechen national liberation movements beginning in the mid 19th Century through the mid 1980s. This necessary, albeit somewhat brief history, is critical background for understanding the modern Chechen wars and their significant impact on the Global War by Terror.”
In Bodansky’s view, the first Chechen war is primarily a national liberation movement with some Islamic influence. In contrast, the second Chechen war of the 20th Century was completely co-opted by international Islamic Jihadist elements and thus developed into more of a front in the Global Jihadist War than any national liberation movement.
Bodansky’s text is at times frightening in its description of the global coordination by Jihadists, primarily Osama Bin Laden. Prior to reading this book, I thought of the foreign fighters appearing and confronting American troops in both Iraq and Afghanistan as young men who had traveled on their own volition and by their own means. After reading Chechen Jihad: Al Qaeda's Training Ground and the Next Wave of Terror, it is clear that these foreign fighter’s are deployed, logistical supported and directed (strategically) by both a globally coordinated Jihadist movement and several foreign governments.
Bodansky also succulently describes in striking detail the duplicitous nature of the Iranian, Pakistani and to a lesser extend the Saudi governments. Iran, as described by Bodansky, clearly uses terrorist groups, alliances with Jihadist groups and directly supplies and coordinates the activities of terrorists as a means of State policy.
There are two caveats for reading Chechen Jihad: Al Qaeda's Training Ground and the Next Wave of Terror. First, it is what I would call a “point of view” text. While the terror, atrocities and abject criminality of the Chechen Jihadists and Jihadists in general are described and documented, the is no reference to crimes or atrocities committed by Russian forces or their allies. This doesn’t take away from the text, but the reader should understand that this book is written with a Russian and somewhat “Western” point of view. Other stuff did happen. Second, the book is rich in detail and it is the detail which tells the story and is a strength of the book. However, on a single page the reader may go from the United States, to Afghanistan and then deep into the mountainous interior of the Caucus. The names of people and places are complex and must be followed closely. To his credit, Bodansky, does an outstanding job of keeping the reader focused and reminding him or her of why the player or location is important. But, it is not a light read.
Essentially, the book ends during the summer of 2007. What I took away from the “next wave” is that the Global War BY Terror has the means to shift troops around the various “fronts.” Indeed, some of these troops (Jihadists) are battle hardened, well-trained Chechen Islamists. The seemingly random and discounted terrorist strikes and battlefield skirmishes are much more coordinated than one might presume. Lastly, that in the last few decades the Jihadist movement has shifted from destroying Western cities as a means to establish Islamist rule in traditional Muslim countries to absorbing Western capitals (and thus their people) as a means to establish world-wide Islam as interpreted by modern Jihadists.
According to the description of Chechen Jihad: Al Qaeda's Training Ground and the Next Wave of Terror, “Yossef Bodansky, the author whose #1 New York Times bestseller Bin Laden: The Man Who Declared War on America first introduced American readers to al Qaeda's evil mastermind prior to 9/11, returns to sound an important alert. In this authoritative look at the roots of modern terrorism, Bodansky pinpoints the troubled region of Chechnya as a dangerous and little-understood crucible of terror in the struggle between East and West. Drawing on mountains of previously unseen intelligence from Islamist movements and other military and intelligence sources from throughout the Middle East, Russia, and Central Asia, Chechen Jihad offers an intimate and startling portrait of the jihadist movement that is astonishing in its detail and chilling in its implications—including new insights into the Chechen jihadists' secret role in fighting against U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. An authoritative work of reportage and analysis, Chechen Jihad also points to a new way forward in the struggle to face down the challenges of international Islamist terrorism.”
About Yossef Bodansky, “author of The Secret History of the Iraq War and the number one New York Times bestseller Bin Laden: The Man Who Declared War on America, was the director of the Congressional Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare for sixteen years (1988–2004). He is also the longtime director of research at the International Strategic Studies Association. The author of ten books, he has written frequently for numerous periodicals, including Global Affairs, Jane's Defence Weekly, Defense and Foreign Affairs: Strategic Policy, and BusinessWeek. A member of the Prague Society for International Cooperation, he is a former senior consultant for the U.S. Department of Defense and the U.S. Department of State. Bodansky was also a visiting scholar in the Johns Hopkins University's School of Advanced International Studies. He divides his time between the Middle East and the Washington, D.C., area.”
About the Reviewer:
Lieutenant Raymond E. Foster, LAPD (ret.) retired from the Los Angeles Police Department. He is the author or co-author of six books including Police Technology and Leadership: Texas Hold ‘em Style. He can be contacted through his website at http://www.police-lieutenant.com/