One of the better books I read over Christmas: "Inside the Jihad" by Omar Nasiri.
Between 1994 and 2000, Omar worked as a secret agent for Europe's top foreign intelligence services - including France's DGSE (Direction Générale de la Sécurité Extérieure), and Britain's MI5 and MI6. From the netherworld of Islamist cells in Belgium, to the training camps of Afghanistan, to the radical mosques of London, he risked his life to defeat the emerging global network that the West would come to know as Al Qaeda.
In his book, Nasiri shares the story of his life -a life balanced precariously between the world of Islamic jihadists and the spies who pursue them. As an Arab and a Muslim, he was able to infiltrate the rigidly controlled Afghan training camps, where he encountered men who would later be known as the most-wanted terrorists on earth: Ibn al-Sheikh al-Libi, Abu Zubayda, and Abu Khabab al-Masri. Sent back to Europe with instructions to form a sleeper cell, Nasiri became a conduit for messages going back and forth between Al Qaeda's top recruiter in Pakistan and London's radical cleric Abu Qatada.
"Inside the Jihad" is well written, reads fluently as if it were a novel, despite its gruelling contents. As almost a case study by itself, the story shows how a "up to no good", drinking, womanizing, profiteering and drug dealing Moroccon youngster comes in contact with people supplying arms to an Algerian terrorist cell. What started as a profitable adventure, little by little, he gets drawn into the intrigues, and almost haphazardly, ends up going to the Afghanistan Al-Qaeda training camps, as if he had little choice.
Slowly, he gets a purpose in life, finds true camaraderie and despite his criminal and no-good past, he constantly swings between sympathies for "The Al-Qaeda Cause" and his conscience.
He ends the book with a rather insightful message:
I believe there are wars worth fighting for. I believe there are countries worth fighting for. But I also believe in laws. Maybe more than any other religion, Islam has strict laws about when and how to go to war. I learned these laws myself in the Afghanistan training camps. And I learned that these laws make us superior than the Americans, French, Germans, Russians, English and no matter who. They kill where possible. They throw nuclear bombs and kill millions of people in gas chambers, extinguish millions of people to get land and property. They kill women and children, and shrug about the collateral damage.
That is right, they do such things, and have done so for centuries. But we are Muslim, and the Koran does not allow to behave like this. This is the true Islam, this is the Islam I was thought in the training camps, all be it in theory. What I learned in practice was different.
This is the reason why I wrote this book. I did not tell the story to protect the West against terrorists, it never was my goal. Above all, I wish to protect Islam against the terrible excesses and new thinking.
(..) The fact that the Muslim world has become so degenerated that we were forced to fight wars with the weapons of our enemy has always bothered me. But what happens now is even worse: we fight our wars with the tactics of our enemy. Once we, fight our wars as they do, in other words as YOU do, then there is nothing left for us to fight for.
That is my Jihad..
Enjoy this book. More of my favourites, you can find in my online library.
More recommended books from The Road.