On the front–lines with the building of Al Queda forces in Indonesia both before and after 9/11, written in provocative style by the former Asia bureau chief for Newsweek International.
In Allah's Torch, National Geographic's Tracy Dahlby takes readers into the sprawling, porous, virtually lawless domain of Indonesia, where overlapping lines of radical Islamic rage are now converging in Asia, posing new threats to Westerners at home and abroad.
From the moment the adventure begins, the night the author blunders on board an Indonesian passenger ship with 600 Islamic warriors on an anti–Christian jihad, readers glimpse the passions, politics and personalities fuelling radical Islam's relentless march. We listen as Koran–thumping preachers, hardened holy warriors and fresh–faced recruits, police investigators, military commandos, and spies try to make sense of the epidemic chaos that threatens the region – and now the world beyond.
Based on reporting both before and after September 11, Allah's Torch is an action–packed and thought–provoking narrative that enables readers to see the face of Islamic terror more clearly and assess the threat for themselves.
I was prepared to dislike this book before opening the first chapter. By the end, though, I was finding a grudging sense that maybe this was a genuine attempt to explain some big picture events in Indonesia, take them back a little to the Soekarno and Soharto days, and put them in the context of the so called war on terrorism.The author points out that for most Indonesians, all they want is to have a life in which they can bring up their kids in relative peace, provide them with a secure future, and have a country which is free from corruption (or maybe more free than it is now?) in which to go about the business of living. Extreme Islam occupies only a very small space in this agenda, and the message is we shouldn't get too hung up on the posturing and threats of radical Islamists. On the other hand, we need to be alert to those terrorist groups who really do have an agenda of mass destruction.The message was let down a bit by some less than skilful writing, which was surprising in an author with such respected credentials. Worth a skim on a wet weekend.read more
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Vast, vital and incredibly diverse economically, socially, ethnically and religiously, the Republic of Indonesia has been hit hard by successive dictatorships, the East Asian recession and religious militants. Dahlby, former Newsweek and Washington Post bureau chief, begins his journalistic account of his pre- and post-9/11 travels there with a study of religious conflict in the Moluccas in 1999. A reluctant interisland passenger along with several hundred Islamic jihadis, he meets a Moluccan elder statesman and his savvy daughter. On a later trip, he finds the country suffering from the aftereffects of 9/11 and American pressure to deal with what is inaccurately perceived as a monolithic jihadist movement-Indonesia's Islam, and its militant factions, are no more monolithic than any other aspect of the country. While he gives short history lessons (on Indonesia's Dutch colonial period, for instance) and cuts to larger current political debates during his journeys, Dahlby stays closer to his own feelings and the logistics of his trips than many readers will want: his style is sometimes positively chatty; he draws on his own politics freely in interpreting his experiences. Yet the writing has a strong visual quality and vividly drawn players given the desperate shortage of popular material on Indonesia, this title helps fill the information gap. Agent, Philip Spitzer. (On sale Jan. 4) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved