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Book Review

‘Black Flags: The Rise of ISIS’


Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist Joby Warrick’s newest book, “Black Flags: The Rise of ISIS,” recently garnered him the Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction, and it’s easy to see why. The book is divided into three sections: The Rise of Zarqawi, Iraq and ISIS.

The Rise of Zarqawi follows Abu Musab al-Zarqawi from imprisoned radical in the early 90s to free man looking to join Al-Qaeda. book 5.26In Iraq, Zarqawi has made his way into Pakistan, started his own camp to train people to wage jihad and reached out to Bin Laden. This occurs right before 9/11. Zarqawi didn’t know about the attack until after it had happened, but he was targeted along with Al-Qaeda. This causes Zarqawi to flee to Iraq.

With the invasion of Iraq and the sectarian conflict that followed, Zarqawi would wage a series of attacks. The thing that set Zarqawi apart was his willingness to target fellow Muslims, specifically Shiites. After multiple major attacks on Shiite mosques, Zarqawi had gained the attention of Al-Qaeda. He was then declared the leader of Al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI). Zarqawi’s attacks would grow in viciousness, earning him the nickname “Sheik of the Slaughters,” a name that he fully embraced.

The final section, ISIS, takes place after Zarqawi’s death. It depicts the disbanded Zarqawiists crossing into Syria and slowly gaining support. What would become ISIS started with Zarqawi loyalists gaining support in rural Syria while Assad was concerned with the uprising in the cities. It then goes up to what we associate with ISIS currently.

I found this book absolutely fascinating. I was most interested in the foiled terrorist plots and attacks that occurred that occurred in the early 2000s when I was too young to be following foreign affairs. If you read one nonfiction book this year, it should be this one. CV

CNA - Stop HIV Iowa

By Joby Warrick

Doubleday Books

Sept. 29, 2015

368 pp

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