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ISIS: THE STATE OF TERRORThe Islamic State, known as ISIS, exploded into the public eye in 2014 with startling speed and shocking brutality. It has captured the imagination of the global jihadist movement, attracting recruits in unprecedented numbers and wreaking bloody destruction with a sadistic glee that has alienated even the hardcore terrorists of its parent organization, al Qaeda.
Jessica Stern and J.M. Berger, two of America's leading experts on terrorism, dissect the new model for violent extremism that ISIS has leveraged into an empire of death in Iraq and Syria, and an international network rapidly expanding in the Middle East, North Africa and around the world.
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ISIS: The State of Terror traces the ideological innovations that the group deploys to recruit unprecedented numbers of Westerners, the composition of its infamous snuff videos, and the technological tools it exploits on social media to broadcast its atrocities, and its recruiting pitch to the world, including its success at attracting thousands of Western adherents. The authors examine ISIS's predatory abuse of women and children and its use of horror to manipulate world leaders and its own adherents as it builds its twisted society. The authors offer a much-needed perspective on how world leaders should prioritize and respond to ISIS's deliberate, insidious provocations.
Jessica Stern is author of the seminal text Terror in the Name of God: Why Religious Militants Kill. J.M. Berger is author of the definitive book on American jihadists, Jihad Joe: Americans Who Go to War in the Name of Islam.
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ENDORSEMENTSReza Aslan, best-selling author and religious scholar: "By far the most important contribution yet to our understanding of an organization that remains cloaked in mystery and misunderstanding... A brisk, readable, and eye-opening account of ISIS's past, present, and future. This is a book every American should read."
Best-selling author and CNN terrorism analyst Peter Bergen: "The first serious book to analyze the rise of ISIS... Stern and Berger write clearly and persuasively and marshal impressive primary research from ISIS's prodigious propaganda to help explain how ISIS became the dominant jihadi group today. It's a terrific and important read."
Dr. John Horgan, author of The Psychology of Terrorism: "A timely and urgent book that is essential reading for analysts and policy makers alike. In what is already a cornerstone contribution, Stern and Berger offer the kind of cold-blood analysis so desperately needed on the poorly understood phenomenon that is the so-called Islamic state."
Aaron Zelin, fellow, Washington Institute for Near East Policy: "A penetrating analysis . . . The book provides important context for an evolving organization and proto-state that is attempting to rewrite the jihadi playbook."
Mike Walker, former undersecretary and acting secretary of the United States Army: "Stern and Berger pull back the curtain to expose facts and myths about the violent Salafi apocalyptic cult calling itself the Islamic State. A must-read."
Kecia Ali, associate professor religion, Boston University: "ISIS emerged in territory occupied by American soldiers, governed by dictatorial regimes, and fought over by sectarian extremists. Stern and Berger provide context for understanding ISIS's past and considering how its media model may affect future extremist movements."
INTERVIEW WITH THE AUTHORS
UPDATES AND MEDIA INQUIRIES
Reviews of ISIS: The State of Terror
THE AUTHORS ON ISIS
REVIEWSWashington Post: "Jessica Stern and J.M. Berger’s new book, “ISIS,” should be required reading for every politician and policymaker... Their smart, granular analysis is a bracing antidote to both facile dismissals and wild exaggerations... Stern and Berger offer a nuanced and readable account of the ideological and organizational origins of the group.”
Salon: "Understanding ISIS, who it appeals to and why, as well as how it sees itself, isn't something we're supposed to do. One purpose of ISIS' savagery is to make us react without thinking, to compel us to view the world as it does, as a stark conflict between good and evil demanding immediate, dramatic action. In that light, consider 'ISIS: The State of Terror,' a profound act of counterterrorism."
The Telegraph: "Jessica Stern and J.M. Berger have produced a clear and succinct account of the rise of the fanatics... This book's achievement is to demonstrate how ISIS fits within the spectrum of blood-soaked jihadism."
Evening Standard: "One can only conclude, with the clarity of recent hindsight, that we should have seen it coming -- at least when seen through the lens of ISIS: The State of Terror, a new history of the threat by US academics Jessica Stern and J.M. Berger. ... a timely and important history of a movement that now defines the 21st century."
New York Times: "The authors do nimble jobs of turning their copious research and their own expertise on terrorism into coherent, accessible narratives that leave us with an understanding of the Islamic State's history and metastasis, and its modus operandi. ... The most compelling sections of the Stern-Berger book are devoted to comparing ISIS and Al Qaeda. ... The authors describe Al Qaeda as an exclusive 'vanguard movement,' a 'cabal that saw itself as the elite intellectual leaders of a global ideological revolution that it would assist and manipulate.' ... ISIS, in contrast, is more of a populist start-up operation."
The Independent (Ireland): "...an engrossing book in which two scholars of Islamic terrorism describe the rise of a formidable jihadi movement... The jihadis are master propagandists, and the authors' description of the workings of the ISIS publicity machine is one of the strongest parts of a book full of insights... illuminating..."
Kirkus Reviews: "A detailed study of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria from its rise out of al-Qaida to its intended fulfillment of apocalyptic prophecies. ... this book offers much to learn about ISIS and an expanded understanding of current events."
Mick Endsor: "ISIS: The State of Terror is a brilliant analysis of a group that, in a matter of years, has gone from the verge of extinction to one of the single greatest threats to peace and stability in the Middle East and beyond. Many more pages will undoubtedly be written on ISIS in the coming years but Stern and Berger have set the standard here."
The Malaysian Reserve: "The book expertly focuses on the timelines and events that led to ISIS as well as the people within the organisation... A serious in-depth look into ISIS that doesn't feel as if it's just another Western 'liberal' propaganda. A must read, especially for those living in Muslim countries whether you're a Muslim or not."
New York Times: "[Stern and Berger] dissect the Islamic State's messaging in some detail, showing how the cruelty is aimed at recruiting a very specific demographic, 'angry, maladjusted young men' attracted to a total war against unbelief. ... The authors contrast the Islamic State's messaging with Al Qaeda's, and show why ISIS has ultimately been more successful."
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Author, analyst and consultant on extremism
ABOUT J.M. BERGERJ.M. Berger is a researcher, analyst and writer covering extremism, with a special focus on extremist activities in the U.S. and extremist use of social media. He is a non-resident fellow with the Brookings Institution, Project on U.S. Relations with the Islamic World, and author of the critically acclaimed Jihad Joe: Americans Who Go to War in the Name of Islam, the only definitive history of the U.S. jihadist movement, and co-author of ISIS: The State of Terror with Jessica Stern. Berger also publishes the web site Intelwire.com and is a contributor to Foreign Policy.
THE ISIS TWITTER CENSUS
In a groundbreaking study for the Brookings Institution's Project on U.S. Relations with the Islamic World, , J.M. Berger and Jonathon Morgan identified 20,000 ISIS-supporting Twitter accounts and analyzed their characteristics, profiles, locations and tweeting activity. The study estimates a minimum of 46,000 ISIS-supporting accounts were active in October and November 2014, and provides data and insights on how the suspension of thousands of accounts have impacted the performance of the network. For more reporting on ISIS and its use of media, read ISIS: The State of Terror, the new book by J.M. Berger and Jessica Stern, on sale March 12.
Full report | News story | ISIS: State of Terror
RECENT WORKSEurope's New Crackdown
They can take our lives, but can they also take our freedom? The Charlie Hebdo assault in Paris last week is only the latest chapter in a months-long series of attacks, which built in turn on a yearlong escalation of concerns about the extraordinary number of Europeans traveling to Syria and Iraq to join the Islamic State, al Qaeda's Syrian affiliate, and a host of other jihadi groups.
Full story at Foreign Policy
The Islamic State's Irregulars
In a number of recent cases, it's unclear whether jihadist-style attacks were inspired by the Islamic State and its extremist ideology, or whether IS provided a convenient excuse for violence that was already brewing in the hearts of the perpetrators.
Full story at Foreign Policy
Read the full story at Foreign Policy
Read the full story at Foreign Policy
SELECTED WORKS ON ISIS
BIG DATA AND EXTREMISM
COUNTERING VIOLENT EXTREMISM (CVE)
ONLINE EXTREMISM AND CVE
FBI USE OF INFORMANTS
EXCLUSIVE PRIMARY SOURCE DOCUMENTS
SELECTED VIDEO APPEARANCES
MEDIA INQUIRIESPlease contact Ashley Garland at HarperCollins/Ecco books with requests for interviews or appearances:
Recent television appearances
RESEARCH TOPICS AND RESOURCES
JIHAD JOE: REVIEWSNew York Times: "a timely warning from an expert who has not lost his perspective"
Washington Times: "How these American jihadists became radicalized, recruited and trained... constitute the core of Mr. Berger's important book."
Zenpundit: "Berger neither condemns nor excuses: he sees, he asks, he researches, he reports. ... a book to read... a book to admire."
Redstate.com: "well-researched and incredibly accessibly presented history of American involvement in violent jihad."
Publisher's Weekly: "lifts the veil on the phenomenon of American jihadists..."
Library Journal: "an easy read... the better choice for those seeking ... objective [journalism]."
Buy "Jihad Joe" now!
BIOGRAPHYJ.M. Berger is a researcher, analyst and writer covering extremism, with a special focus on extremist activities in the U.S. and extremist use of social media. He is a non-resident fellow with the Brookings Institution, Project on U.S. Relations with the Islamic World, and author of the critically acclaimed Jihad Joe: Americans Who Go to War in the Name of Islam, the only definitive history of the U.S. jihadist movement, and co-author of the forthcoming ISIS: The State of Terror with Jessica Stern.
His work has appeared in The New York Times, The Atlantic, The Daily Beast, Foreign Policy, the CTC Sentinel, the New York Daily News and the Boston Globe, and on National Public Radio, Public Radio International and the National Geographic Channel. Berger has discussed terrorism and extremism on CNN, Fox News and many other radio and television outlets.
In addition to writing for the media, Berger consults for and trains private companies and government agencies on issues related to homegrown terrorism, online extremism, foreign fighters and advanced social media analysis. He often presents in academic settings and was, most recently, keynote speaker and a panelist at the annual conference of the Society for Terrorism Study, hosted by the University of Massachusetts.
J.M. BERGER RESEARCH AREAS