Book review: An eye-opening examination of Daesh in Khorasan

Drawing on interviews and research, author Antonio Giustozzi sheds light on the composition, structure and establishment of Wilayat Khorasan. (Shutterstock)
Updated 03 September 2018
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Book review: An eye-opening examination of Daesh in Khorasan

  • Khorasan includes an area covering Afghanistan, Pakistan, Central Asia, Iran, parts of India and Russia
  • Policymakers were slow to recognize the presence of Daesh in Khorasan

BEIRUT: Written by one of the top experts on Daesh’s insurgency in Afghanistan and Pakistan, this book is an eye-opener. Drawing on interviews and research, author Antonio Giustozzi sheds light on the composition, structure and establishment of Wilayat Khorasan - a branch of Daesh formally set up in January 2015 and also known as the Islamic State in Khorasan (IS-K).
Khorasan includes an area covering Afghanistan, Pakistan, Central Asia, Iran, parts of India and Russia. “The grand picture of IS-K’s strategy saw Afghanistan as its primary theater of operations and future safe haven, while Pakistan only played a subsidiary role as the logistical hub …,” Giustozzi writes.
Policymakers were slow to recognize the presence of Daesh in Khorasan, with the US finally acknowledging the group in 2016 and increasing drone strikes against them.
Despite presenting a shambolic picture of its operations - one laced with blunders, permanent conflicts and open-ended negotiations - Daesh has shown an uncanny ability to learn from its mistakes, thereby winning the trust vote of major militant groups.
Compared to the Taliban, the group has experts in every field, including in the military and for finance-related and logistical activities. Therefore, the cost of maintaining Daesh militants is far higher than that incurred by the Taliban, according to the book.
It has also demonstrated shrewdness and a rapidity in taking advantage of the slightest rift within the ranks of its enemies. However, if Daesh’s funds dry up, it would have to look for avenues to raise revenues from within Khorasan, Giustozzi posits.
What’s questionable is the US’s commitment in Afghanistan, especially with problems in the State Department and worsening ties between the US, Russia, China and Iran. Daesh is counting on an improbable reconciliation between the Taliban and the Afghan government to attract disillusioned militants back to its ranks.
While the military solution in Afghanistan is yielding limited success, there is a need for stronger diplomatic efforts as echoed by Daniel Davies, a retired army lieutenant colonel, who believes that “if there is no dramatic change in strategy we will never leave Afghanistan.”


What We Are Reading Today: Running to The Edge

Updated 22 July 2019
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What We Are Reading Today: Running to The Edge

Author: MATTHEW FUTTERMAN

Drawing a direct line from coaching high school students to Olympic medalists and Boston Marathon winners, Matthew Futterman tells the story of coach Bob Larsen and his efforts to unlock the secrets of running far fast.
Futterman, a deputy sports editor at The New York Times,  is a “good writer and he knows how to heighten the drama,” a critic commented in goodreads.com. 
The review added: “Thanks to a deft, fast-paced writing style and especially great characterizations that bring unheralded high schoolers to life just as vividly as national champions, this is the best book on running since Christopher McDougall’s Born to Run.”
In a review for The New York Times, critic Katie Arnold said: “In personal vignettes interspersed throughout the book, the author recounts his own forays in the sport, from his first five-miler, at age 10, to soggy slow marathons and hitting the wall in Central Park. Though at times these scenes distract from the central narrative, they remind us that the allure of running — just like its tolls — is universal, regardless of where we finish in the pack.”