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It was a defining moment, the first time ‘Jihadi John’ appeared. Suddenly Islamic State had a face and the whole world knew the extent of their savagery. Weeks later, when his identity was revealed, Robert Verkaik was shocked to realise that this was a man he’d interviewed years earlier. Back in 2010, Mohammed Emwazi was a twenty-one-year-old IT graduate who claimed the It was a defining moment, the first time ‘Jihadi John’ appeared. Suddenly Islamic State had a face and the whole world knew the extent of their savagery. Weeks later, when his identity was revealed, Robert Verkaik was shocked to realise that this was a man he’d interviewed years earlier. Back in 2010, Mohammed Emwazi was a twenty-one-year-old IT graduate who claimed the security services were ruining his life. They had repeatedly approached him, his family and his fiancée. Had they been tracking an already dangerous extremist or did they push him over the edge? In the aftermath of the US air strike that killed Emwazi in November 2015, Verkaik’s investigation leads him to deeply troubling questions. What led Emwazi to come to him for help in the first place? And why do hundreds of Britons want to join Islamic State? In an investigation both frightening and urgent, Verkaik goes beyond the making of one terrorist to examine the radicalisation of our youth and to ask what we can do to stop it happening in future.


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It was a defining moment, the first time ‘Jihadi John’ appeared. Suddenly Islamic State had a face and the whole world knew the extent of their savagery. Weeks later, when his identity was revealed, Robert Verkaik was shocked to realise that this was a man he’d interviewed years earlier. Back in 2010, Mohammed Emwazi was a twenty-one-year-old IT graduate who claimed the It was a defining moment, the first time ‘Jihadi John’ appeared. Suddenly Islamic State had a face and the whole world knew the extent of their savagery. Weeks later, when his identity was revealed, Robert Verkaik was shocked to realise that this was a man he’d interviewed years earlier. Back in 2010, Mohammed Emwazi was a twenty-one-year-old IT graduate who claimed the security services were ruining his life. They had repeatedly approached him, his family and his fiancée. Had they been tracking an already dangerous extremist or did they push him over the edge? In the aftermath of the US air strike that killed Emwazi in November 2015, Verkaik’s investigation leads him to deeply troubling questions. What led Emwazi to come to him for help in the first place? And why do hundreds of Britons want to join Islamic State? In an investigation both frightening and urgent, Verkaik goes beyond the making of one terrorist to examine the radicalisation of our youth and to ask what we can do to stop it happening in future.

30 review for Jihadi John: The Making of a Terrorist

  1. 5 out of 5

    Ariel

    Jihadi John was the executioner of James Foley, Steven Sotloff, David Haines, Alan Henning, Peter Kassig and an unknown number of Syrian soldiers. He shot gruesome videos of himself beheading Western journalists and aid workers. He was finally unmasked as Mohammed Emwazi and it was shocking to find out that he was raised in England. He watched the same movies, played the same games, loved our sports teams and had all of the same cultural references as those who live in the West. What turned a Jihadi John was the executioner of James Foley, Steven Sotloff, David Haines, Alan Henning, Peter Kassig and an unknown number of Syrian soldiers. He shot gruesome videos of himself beheading Western journalists and aid workers. He was finally unmasked as Mohammed Emwazi and it was shocking to find out that he was raised in England. He watched the same movies, played the same games, loved our sports teams and had all of the same cultural references as those who live in the West. What turned a nerdy college student into an executioner for Isis is a fascinating story and one that must be examined in order to prevent more terrorists from being radicalized. The author does not excuse his actions but instead attempts to explain why someone who feels marginalized, harassed, and as if they don't have a country they fit in might be ripe to be radicalized. Such was the case for Emwazi who wanted to go to Kuwait and to be married but was thwarted by the British intelligence service. It becomes a case of which came first the chicken or the egg? Does the government's intrusive surveillance methods cause a Muslim to turn to radicalization or is a person on the verge of becoming a terrorist and they catch the governments interest and they are right to take whatever means necessary in order to intervene and prevent a tragedy. The Muslim community is the best chance authorities have to be alerted to a possible threat but if Muslims and their families are dealt with harshly will they still want to turn in members of their community? Authorities want to make examples of terrorists in order to send a message that there is zero tolerance but does this only sow bad feelings in the Muslim community making them more susceptible to radicalization? This book poses a lot of thought provoking questions with no perfect answers. The only thing that is certain is that this a problem that will not disappear or be easily solved. Jihadi John's successor was already front and center in the Isis propaganda videos by the time this book was published. If the West does not make more of an effort to examine their policies then the next terrorist is just a recruitment video away.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Asim Qureshi

    First published on Middle East Eye: http://www.middleeasteye.net/in-depth... The Muhammad Emwazi I met in 2009 was indeed a polite and friendly young man as the author Robert Verkaik and man others attest to, but by the summer of 2014 he was executing innocent Muslims and non-Muslims in the name of the Islamic State and I could not recognise the man I had once known. One year on from a difficult period my organisation and I encountered due to my inappropriate description of him once being a First published on Middle East Eye: http://www.middleeasteye.net/in-depth... The Muhammad Emwazi I met in 2009 was indeed a polite and friendly young man as the author Robert Verkaik and man others attest to, but by the summer of 2014 he was executing innocent Muslims and non-Muslims in the name of the Islamic State and I could not recognise the man I had once known. One year on from a difficult period my organisation and I encountered due to my inappropriate description of him once being a "beautiful young man" – one that I am regretful of due to the impact this insensitivity had on all families who were victims of his murders – we now finally have a book that is able to provide some balance to a story that must be understood. When I introduced Verkaik, at the time a journalist at The Independent, to Emwazi, it was very much because I respected him – and still do – as someone who is balanced and fair-minded. Since before then, we had been orbiting around stories to do with security service harassment of young Muslim men and so developed a rapport where I knew that here was someone who would take the difficulties faced by these men seriously. At that time, none of us could know that Emwazi would go on to become a murderer, but this was part of the problem with the information we were dealing with: there was no way to challenge their treatment, or put to test the allegations against them. Perhaps more than most people, I have been in anticipation of this contribution by Verkaik. Like him, it is only natural to think of possible other outcomes to Emwazi’s life: “The man I had known five years ago was polite and helpful. He showed empathy for me and my work as a journalist and he had trusted me by sharing very personal details about his life. He had confided in me about his relationship break-ups, his work woes and his conviction that he was an innocent citizen being unfairly persecuted. He desperately wanted his story to be told as he felt that MI5 was destroying his life. He had recently sold his laptop on the internet, and now believed it had been purchased by the security services. He was under so much stress that he often felt like a ‘dead man walking’ and once even emailed me to say he was thinking of taking his own life. "How could this young Muslim man, who had appeared to me as a victim, have gone on to carry out such horrific acts…” [p.xiv] The types of cases we deal with at CAGE, many of which involve actual instances of torture, placed Emwazi’s concerns at the time relatively low on our immediate priorities. Sometimes it is difficult to imagine the extent that suffocating policies can have on an individual. CAGE has dealt with thousands of individuals who have come through our doors over the last 13 years. The range of cases range dramatically from those who have been stopped at ports, to those who have been tortured in secret prisons around the world with the complicity of the US and the UK. When I meet with clients such as Shaker Aamer, they represent the best of what Muslims who have suffered have to offer, that they do not blame the people of a country for their suffering, but are confident enough to speak truth to power and seek accountability. The end product of those thousands is far removed from that of Jihadi John, which is why the ability to challenge sanctions, no matter how informal, becomes crucial as we seek to understand the different pathways individuals take. What Verkaik does so well, is to provide us with a trajectory which not only looks at Emwazi’s youth and life growing up, but also attempts to understand the socio-political-economic environment that surrounded him. Key to this narrative is the dissonance between his childhood as a bidoon (an individual without nationality in Kuwait) growing up as a refugee in the UK, to his life as an alcohol and drug-abusing teenager, to his final manifestation as the world’s most infamous murderer. If anything, Emwazi’s childhood reflected a completely normal British child’s experience. He was a consumer of western culture and identity, finding some semblance of belonging in "black" culture. “He loved rap music, particularly Jay-Z. He was actually quite small for his age but full of bravado. I only ever saw him get into a fight once and that was with an Iranian who joined us to play football one Saturday. Mohammed was punching and kicking this guy, even 'though he was much bigger. I had to step in to stop him being really hurt.” [p.11] By presenting us with anecdotes from a range of interviewees, Verkaik helps to shed light on a more human and fragile younger Emwazi, an impressive feat considering the climate of fear surrounding any association with him. Consistently he is praised (including by Verkaik) for his politeness; and ultimately the reason for shock and upset by myself and all others who knew him, was because as one teacher said, “it is just so far from what I knew of him.” [p.13] Yet Jihadi John is who Emwazi ultimately became. Along the way he crosses paths with individuals such as a Mohamed Sakr and Belal el-Berjawi, also young men who led a life of hedonism and crime before slowly turning to religion. These men would later become part of a group who would be committed to the fight against the US-backed Transitional Federal Government of Somalia by joining al-Shabaab. It is this larger section of the story, that details how such groups developed in their thinking in a wider context, which provides many interesting vignettes in relation to the activities of these young men. But it also betrays a certain narrative that Verkaik adopts somewhat uncritically. In fact, much of Verkaik’s narrative very much reads like Raffaello Pantucci’s survey of UK-based individuals and groups interested in jihad in his book, We Love Death as You Love Life – a framing that very much reflects the Royal United Services Institute’s (RUSI) thinking around counter-terrorism. It is ultimately an approach that securitises the Muslim community, and places an unknowable potential threat above the rights and civil liberties of 5 percent of the UK population. Saying the above, it is easy to understand that Verkaik was provided access to material many of us will never see, and so may have been provided insights that would clarify threat levels and shed light on decision-making processes. This, however, is something impossible to contend with for lawyers and those involved in seeking to give rights to those abused of them in the name of counter-terrorism. For organisations like CAGE, we can only work (like lawyers) with the facts as we are able to discern them and as our clients present the material to us. What is particularly perplexing is Verkaik’s veiled condemnation of CAGE that we do not always, “tell the complete truth”, about our cases, when he himself writes: “Emwazi’s account had an air of authenticity about it. After all, he wasn’t making allegations which couldn’t be corroborated as he promised to put me in touch with the two women concerned. Neither did he exaggerate his story. He was happy to provide detail when it was required and if he didn’t know the answer to a question he would say so. And every now and then, throughout our conversations, he conveyed a raw anger about the injustice of it all which helped to make him sound very believable.” [p.110] It is precisely here that I must accuse Verkaik of being guilty of casual Orientalism. I say casual, as I believe him to be honest and to have a great deal of integrity. However he has not been able to escape writing from the lens of his white privilege, falling as he does into the rabbit hole of epistemic violence. In many moments throughout the book, he provides an Orientalised version of acts that actually are completely innocuous, largely due to his own lack of cultural competency. He writes about Muslim communities as an external agent; he has never lived among them to understand them. One glaring example of this is a passage on Yassin Nassari who he writes went to Saudi Arabia, only to return: “…reappearing in long robes and headgear and referring to himself as ‘emir’ of the students’ Islamic society.” [p.18] The way in which Verkaik constructs this sentence, gives the impression that there was some kind of mini-caliphate being formed at Westminster University. The reality, however, is that in nearly every single Islamic society across the UK for decades, the head Muslim male elected or chosen to lead would usually be referred to as amir (choosing the non-colonial transliteration) and the head female would be called the amirah – it was for many years something completely normal. This harks back to the tradition of the Prophet Muhammad where he specifically encouraged Muslims to choose an amir among them, when there was a gathering of Muslims of more than two – not a suspicious mandate for the construction of an Islamic polity. It is precisely in his lack of criticality in the language that Verkaik betrays his inability to understand the deeper complexities of these issues. He accuses Westminster University Islamic Society of being engaged in "Islamist extremism" [p.19], and yet does not provide any evidence for that assertion, let alone providing a definition of what he understands "Islamist extremism" to be. Does he mean reading the works of Sayyid Qutb and Abul ‘Ala Maududi as explicitly stated by the UK government? Knowing him, I doubt so. Why then use a language and polemic so heavily contested that there is currently a national debate about its efficacy? Even with Emwazi himself, Verkaik conflates Emwazi’s abhorrence at the political situation of Muslims in the world with Islamist extremism, “I’m not sure I had accepted everything he told me at face value, and I did challenge him directly about his claim that he had no interest in Islamist extremism. But now that I have read what he was writing to CAGE during this period, it is clear that he was much more engaged in Islamist thinking than he was prepared to reveal to me. Perhaps he considered me part of the oppressive Western state that was responsible for abusing Muslims all over the world. I was after all a white non-Muslim working for the mainstream media. Perhaps he thought he could use me to help further the Islamist struggle by making the security services and Scotland Yard defend themselves against embarrassing allegations. All I can say now is that that wasn’t how it seemed to me on the day.” [p.111] What Verkaik fails to connect (despite his own research), is that while Emwazi was a non-religious, drug abusing, gangsta rap-listening teenager, he held exactly the same political views, and those views had nothing to do with an "Islamist" worldview: “He ****ng hated George Bush and wanted to kill him in revenge for the killing of innocent civilians. He said the same about Tony Blair. It was strange because although he was Muslim, as far as I know he never went to a mosque and he never seemed religious. I felt that because he was so young and his views so strong, that he must have picked them up from somewhere outside school.” [p.11] This use of language becomes ever more baffling as Verkaik criticises the very programme that at its nucleus promotes a definition of "Islamist extremism" that has been rejected by a range of communities: “A zero-tolerance approach to extremism didn’t work then and it isn’t working now. The government’s flagship policy on countering radicalization, the Prevent initiative, is failing to stop Britons heading for one of the most dangerous war zones on earth. It seems that whole sections of Muslim communities have become disengaged with authority and entire families are choosing the horrors of the Islamic State over a safe and peaceful life in Britain.” [p.226] Like so many tired commentaries on the abuses carried out by ISIS in the region of their control between Iraq and Syria, Verkaik pays very little attention to lives lost at the hands of ISIS within Muslim or Arab communities, choosing the executions of westerners as the intertemporal moment of real contention with the group – giving only a passing passage to Moazzam Begg’s witnessing of torture by those associated with ISIS before the group formed. Even his treatment of the case of Muadh al-Kassasbeh, the Jordanian pilot burned alive, is more of a political commentary on the negotiations between Jordan and ISIS, than it is a serious attempt to provide some much-needed balance to the value of lives lost. This is a serious matter, as such writing reinforces a hierarchy of outrage where the lives of those being killed in their hundreds are somehow less significant. Perhaps where Verkaik overreaches completely is when he delves into issues of Islamic jurisprudence. He uses a quote by Michael Bonner (that I provided him) in order to put forward a view of what he believes jihad to be. What he does not understand is that as someone who has no background in such issues, he cannot engage in reductive discussions on a subject that has been written about for almost 1,500 years. The book should have stuck to the uniqueness of its contribution, which is to provide a social history of Muhammad Emwazi, and to assess that in relation to Verkaik’s real expertise, the law and the politics surrounding it. The above criticisms, and the dissonance between Verkaik’s positions, highlights the difficult territory he is trying to traverse. On the one hand, he accepts that there is a threat posed by Muslim communities to the UK, and that the security services need to take action in order to undermine any potential threats, but at the same time he understands that the current trajectory is failing. It is here that Verkaik has my deepest sympathy, as this is not an easy line to tread. His interviews with former terrorism suspect Dr Rizwaan Sabir and former control order detainee, Cerie Bullivant, highlight how the state can so badly get things wrong. He also does not shy away from highlighting the double standards in the way that terrorism cases are prosecuted, citing the case of former British soldier Ryan McGee. How is this resolved? Verkaik realises that there may be something counter-intuitive to the government’s strategy: “But none of this macho rhetoric addresses the central issue - that people who have no violent history or criminal record and are approached by, or have contact with, the security services still go on to commit acts of terrorism.” [p.249] There is an assumption that is built into much of counter-terrorism, that policing cannot achieve what the security agencies are able to do. The problem this causes, is that the focus shifts from evidence to perception. Thus individuals are stopped and harassed based on their ideological or political views, rather than any specific threat they pose. Individuals feel alienated and disenfranchised due to the both their foreign and domestic policy concerns, but that should not be treated as a threat. When sanctions are taken against those individuals without an effective process of challenge, this can be lead to feelings of being caged in an open air prison. Nonetheless the stories of individuals such as Emwazi are important to study and understand. However, this must be done in a spirit that is open, and with an understanding of the cultural nuances within which individuals exist and a much deeper knowledge of the theological debates to which they are exposed. Any approach should not problematise an entire community, a perspective that has taken root within the security establishment and which unfortunately casts its shadow, however subtly, in this work – and however unwittingly, through Verkaik’s natural cultural gaze. As long as there are cases of individuals such as Moazzam Begg, Cerie Bullivant, all those stopped without reason at ports and those who are deprived of their rights through secret courts, organisations such as CAGE will never accept that there should be an unequivocal trust for security agencies. Yes, they have a job to do, and in many cases such as Operation Crevice, an important job. However, that does not mean that there are those to whom the rule of law and the principles of transparency and accountability do not apply. The importance of Robert Verkaik’s book lies in this: that there must be a new way for all of us to come together to do things, because we all wish to be safe from harm and injustice. "Jihadi John: The Making of a Terrorist" by Robert Verkaik (Oneworld Publications, paperback 2016). - See more at: http://www.middleeasteye.net/in-depth...

  3. 5 out of 5

    James

    As someone who has always enjoyed reading biographies of controversial political and international figures I came to this work hoping that my assumptions would be wrong. Before the the invasion of Iraq I read a number of biographies of Saddam Hussein and while some titles were mature studies of how such a vicious dictator seized and kept hold of power for so long, others were no more than tabloid hatchet jobs. Mohammed Emwazi, aka Jihadi John is such a controversial figure (for obvious reasons) As someone who has always enjoyed reading biographies of controversial political and international figures I came to this work hoping that my assumptions would be wrong. Before the the invasion of Iraq I read a number of biographies of Saddam Hussein and while some titles were mature studies of how such a vicious dictator seized and kept hold of power for so long, others were no more than tabloid hatchet jobs. Mohammed Emwazi, aka Jihadi John is such a controversial figure (for obvious reasons) that I worried that this would be little more than salacious gossip, a raking over of every horrific little detail for the titillation of the reader. I’m happy to say that these concerns all proved unfounded. Don’t get me wrong, Robert Verkaik has written no apologia for Jihadi John. What he has done is place Mohammed Emwazi, who he had met and corresponded with while working for the Independent, within the wider milieu of disenfranchised Muslim youth. The author met Emwazi while working on articles about young Muslim men who felt that they were being harassed by MI5 and the Met’s anti-terrorism branch. He charts how Emwazi travelled from dabbling in drugs and gangs to falling in with a group of young men who were interested, to a greater or lesser degree, in the conflict in Somalia. The Security Service had, and almost certainly still has, a policy of aggressively cultivating sources in the Muslim community. MI5 will mix inducements with threats and should the target resist, the pressure is amplified. With Emwazi this led to him losing not one, but two marriage proposals, and being barred from entering Kuwait where he wished to start a new life. The author is very even handed in his analysis of these events. While he understands where the Security Service is coming from, he also gives fair weight to the opinions of Asim Qureshi of Cage, who famously received vitriol from the red tops for describing Emwazi as a ‘beautiful person.’ In the end, having weighed up all the competing arguments, he can’t help but conclude that the approach of the security services and police is heavy handed and crudely lacking in finesse. Once again it is important to note what this is not, for it would be unfair on the author should people be put off reading this work for fear that it is a sympathetic account of a man who brutally butchered his captives. Robert Verkaik makes no excuses for Mohammed Emwazi and his book is not an attempt to shift the blame either from him or his masters in the so-called Islamic State. But what he has produced is a thoughtful and sober analysis of how a seemingly normal young man became such a brutal killer, and how the UK government and law enforcement can better prevent the next Jihadi John from joining the terrorists’ ranks.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Roni Laukkarinen

    Despite the prequisities, persona of Mohammed Emwazi and the circumstances, this book is surprisingly captivating, mostly because it's a horrifying true story. During this read I noticed my mind returning to the events when I accidentally saw or heard about the ISIS executions for the very first time. The style of the book is very much magazine-like which is expected considering the book is written by a journalist. Makes me feel unpleasant in my stomache to think the author Robert could have been Despite the prequisities, persona of Mohammed Emwazi and the circumstances, this book is surprisingly captivating, mostly because it's a horrifying true story. During this read I noticed my mind returning to the events when I accidentally saw or heard about the ISIS executions for the very first time. The style of the book is very much magazine-like which is expected considering the book is written by a journalist. Makes me feel unpleasant in my stomache to think the author Robert could have been James Foyle. What surprised me the most was that the book goes through more other people and organisations than Jihadi John itself, some of them less interesting than others, surely part of the development of Emwazi though. Not the easiest one to read, but interesting subject nevertheless, despite all the horror around the subject. Can't say I recommend it, but as a book I liked to spend that time wondering about what could cause this evilness. I'd just wish there would be a better way and even the worst people in the world would redeem themselves. Good bye Jihadi John, not many people will miss you.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Luiz Fujita Junior

    Na minha opinião, um trabalho bastante preguiçoso de jornalismo. A única ligação do autor com Jihadi John foi para uma matéria anos antes de ele ter se tornado um terrorista conhecido. Não há uma tentativa de fazer um perfil a partir de entrevistas com amigos e familiares. O livro poderia ter sido bem feito sem nem sair de casa. O pouco que há são algumas falas com o irmão, o resto são declarações retiradas de jornais. É confuso na cronologia e falha ao responder ou ao menos defender algum ponto Na minha opinião, um trabalho bastante preguiçoso de jornalismo. A única ligação do autor com Jihadi John foi para uma matéria anos antes de ele ter se tornado um terrorista conhecido. Não há uma tentativa de fazer um perfil a partir de entrevistas com amigos e familiares. O livro poderia ter sido bem feito sem nem sair de casa. O pouco que há são algumas falas com o irmão, o resto são declarações retiradas de jornais. É confuso na cronologia e falha ao responder ou ao menos defender algum ponto de vista quanto à tese que dá subtítulo ao livro. Não dá uma boa ideia nem do contexto do terrorismo contemporâneo. Não compreendo como se tornou um livro de tamanha repercussão.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Eileen

    Worth reading.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Bud Chapman

    From Normal to Psychopath in a few easy lessons

  8. 4 out of 5

    Barnaby

    Summer Reads 2017 A fascinating piece of work, attempting to understand why a polite, kind Maida Vale schoolboy can turn into one of the most feared terrorists in recent history. 📚☀️ Summer Reads 2017 ☀️📚 A fascinating piece of work, attempting to understand why a polite, kind Maida Vale schoolboy can turn into one of the most feared terrorists in recent history.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Geraldine

    An essential read for anyone who's curious about how a supposedly unexceptional young man becomes a psychopathic killer, at one stage the world's 'most wanted' terrorist. Robert Verkaik is a journalist, formerly with the Independent and then the Mail on Sunday, who has worked on connected matters for some years. It's not really a biography of 'Jihadi John' - who achieved little in his sad and miserable life, and left nothing to aid understanding. It's a narrative of what is known about this Daesh An essential read for anyone who's curious about how a supposedly unexceptional young man becomes a psychopathic killer, at one stage the world's 'most wanted' terrorist. Robert Verkaik is a journalist, formerly with the Independent and then the Mail on Sunday, who has worked on connected matters for some years. It's not really a biography of 'Jihadi John' - who achieved little in his sad and miserable life, and left nothing to aid understanding. It's a narrative of what is known about this Daesh terrorist, set in the context of events of the time, with added insight provided by tales of other jihadis. It's a very good book all round, but the absolute tour de force is the final chapter, 'How To Beat the Terrorists'. It takes intelligence and wisdom to write so eloquently on such a controversial subject, and to be able to see both sides of the argument without adopting the coward's fence-sitting. The basic premise is that Mohammed Emwazi got involved with extreme political Islamists. This network of friends put him on the radar of the Secret Agencies, particularly MI5 and the Met's CO15. He felt they were harassing him, causing the end of two engagements, and making it impossible for him to live and work in Kuwait, the land of his birth and ancestry. Consequently he travelled to Syria, in time joined up with ISIL, and came to our attention with the beheading of journalists and aid workers. Verkaik has interviewed a wide range of people, including Emwazi's brother, people from CAGE, Charles Farr (for several years head of Office of Security and Counter Terrorism), and unattributed MI5 agents. He draws the conclusion that possibly the unsubtle harassment did push Emwazi into extremism, but also that later events demonstrated that MI5 were justified in keeping tabs on him. He widens the question as to what extent societal factors are to blame. For a start, he stresses that every individual is responsible for his or her own actions; however, some Muslim communities feel divorced from mainstream British society, and young men in particular are susceptible to serial push and pull factors. It's actually quite similar to the belated understanding that certain white working class communities are so alienated that they were happy to vote Brexit irrespective of the damage it will do the economy and their livelihoods. It's too easy, from a position of privilege, to say something like 'nothing's stopping them integrating, it's their own problem', and Verkaik doesn't say that. He quotes senior establishment sources who acknowledge that social and economic marginalisation are major contributory factors to the increasing radicalisation of young Muslims. He also makes subtle differentiation between radicalisation, jihad and terrorism. He doesn't make this analogy but it sprung instantly to me based on my cultural/social background. Lots of people of Irish heritage have a notional desire for a United Ireland. This doesn't make them IRA terrorists. Lots of such people are rightfully angry that for decades Catholics in Northern Ireland suffered discrimination in employment and housing. That doesn't make them terrorists. Not even IRA sympathisers. Many people of Irish heritage saw the British Army in the Six Counties as an army of occupation. This is a more controversial view, but if one draws parallels with other armies of occupations and freedom fights, it makes the army a legitimate target in a struggle for independence. This probably makes someone an IRA sympathiser, but not necessarily a terrorist. I'm sure many Establishment types would read my words and shudder, but I do feel there are strong parallels with how Verkaik describes the range of Muslim sentiment in Britain. He doesn't make it black-and-white, virtuous-and-evil, because it's more complex than that. I liked the writing style. It's unmistakably that of a newspaper man. At first I was amused and almost irritated by a newspapery trick that was several steps short of 'you'll never guess what happened next' but was in the same vein. But either its use lessened during the book, or I got used to it. This sort of observation aside, it's exactly how a book should be written. Anyone with even basic journalism training knows the work must be readable by the target audience. There are probably people doing vital in-depth research on related matters in academia, producing reports that are vital for the policy makers and law enforcers. This book, however, is targeted at me. Someone who knows a little but not a great deal, and is capable of processing complicated ideas and nuances, but hasn't got all day to untangle an impenetrable complex sentence of industry-specific terminology. I would strongly recommend this to anyone who wants to shed light on radicalisation but who doesn't want to wade through decades and centuries of Middle Eastern history.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Marty

    I received this book in exchange for a review. The book, less foot notes, is only 255 pages, but with so much information packed in at times I was on information overload. The book is the story of Mohammed Emwazi the first so called Jihadi John and how he became a terrorist. Raised in London, the author first met Mr. Emwazi when the the author interviewed "john" about his life and how he felt persecuted because of his faith. My thought is why would he feel singled out when his group of friends I received this book in exchange for a review. The book, less foot notes, is only 255 pages, but with so much information packed in at times I was on information overload. The book is the story of Mohammed Emwazi the first so called Jihadi John and how he became a terrorist. Raised in London, the author first met Mr. Emwazi when the the author interviewed "john" about his life and how he felt persecuted because of his faith. My thought is why would he feel singled out when his group of friends are suspected terrorists themselves. Emwazi wants to be a martyr and goes out of his way to become one at every turn. Please read this book. It is very well written and engaging, well researched I learned that many British Muslims feel victimized and singled out. My question is and has always been why have they not made more of an effort to speak out against violence and assimilated in any country that has welcomed them in? If their women must be completely covered to avoid rape, why come here? Most of this brand of IS are not very religious and believe they are off on an adventure and just want to fight to obtain status and greater glory. They believe western governments do not like them. And yet who is causing the terror today? I think Mr. Verkaik did an excellent job of showing a passive aggressive, paranoid, depressed John that hates all thinks British, has no problem killing them for every real or perceived wrong . Kill one terrorist and two take his place. They move freely between countries leaving death in their wake, yet are more angry when the British do not want them back, or will not let them leave the country. We will not be rid of terror until the Muslim community takes a greater stand to turn the tides of their young males.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Tony Parsons

    The life/times of the international terrorist Mohammed Emwazi (21, IT graduate, aka Jihadi John). Filled with lots of facts. International terrorism a never ending battle. Now we await how the world will deal with ISIS. Warning: This book contains extremely graphic adult content, violence, or expletive language &/or uncensored sexually explicit material which is only suitable for mature readers. It may be offensive to some readers. I did not receive any type of compensation for reading & The life/times of the international terrorist Mohammed Emwazi (21, IT graduate, aka Jihadi John). Filled with lots of facts. International terrorism a never ending battle. Now we await how the world will deal with ISIS. Warning: This book contains extremely graphic adult content, violence, or expletive language &/or uncensored sexually explicit material which is only suitable for mature readers. It may be offensive to some readers. I did not receive any type of compensation for reading & reviewing this book. While I receive free books from publishers & authors, I am under no obligation to write a positive review, only an honest one. A very awesome book cover, great font & writing style. A very well written book. It was very easy for me to read/follow from start/finish & never a dull moment. There were no grammar/typo errors, nor any repetitive or out of line sequence sentences. Lots of exciting scenarios, with several twists/turns & a great set of unique characters to keep track of. This could also make another great movie, a college PP presentation (Political Science, criminal justice, sociology), or a mini TV series or even a documentary film (A & E, History channel). A very easy rating of 5 stars. Thank you for the free Goodreads; MakingConnections; Oneworld Publications; paperback book Tony Parsons MSW (Washburn)

  12. 4 out of 5

    Ned Charles

    A disappointing book with light-weight examples on the supposed up and coming, and would be terrorists from Britain in the time of Jihadi John. Some to do about the tough methods of MI5 and MI6 contributing to the decision of young men to go to Syria. However, not much on the life of Jihadi John, it certainly could not be considered a biography, even the early years were very basic. Written by a journalist in this day of the internet, it was surprising to see the book lacked inside stories and A disappointing book with light-weight examples on the supposed up and coming, and would be terrorists from Britain in the time of Jihadi John. Some to do about the tough methods of MI5 and MI6 contributing to the decision of young men to go to Syria. However, not much on the life of Jihadi John, it certainly could not be considered a biography, even the early years were very basic. Written by a journalist in this day of the internet, it was surprising to see the book lacked inside stories and opinions from any committed jihadist. The title of the book was very misleading, but it is a title to sell copies. I doubt the last chapter will help anybody, especially the author.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Paul

    possibly the finest case study I have read. Written by a journalist, it is as well researched, referenced and written as a Doctorate. This is also a very, very important book. It accurately looks as what causes radicalisation, fairly, intelligently and without bias, and then explores what we might do about it. I did not agree with all of the authors views but as a Research Leader in this field myself, I can honestly say that this book changed my views on how we should respond to young men drawn possibly the finest case study I have read. Written by a journalist, it is as well researched, referenced and written as a Doctorate. This is also a very, very important book. It accurately looks as what causes radicalisation, fairly, intelligently and without bias, and then explores what we might do about it. I did not agree with all of the authors views but as a Research Leader in this field myself, I can honestly say that this book changed my views on how we should respond to young men drawn to I.S. The writing is superb, the delivery well paced and the narrative excellent: truly fine journalism. Dr Paul Fitzpatrick

  14. 4 out of 5

    Maureen

  15. 4 out of 5

    Danhui Fok

  16. 5 out of 5

    Ben

  17. 5 out of 5

    Habjouqa

  18. 4 out of 5

    Mike Mitchell

  19. 5 out of 5

    Mohd

  20. 4 out of 5

    Thiago Scursoni

  21. 5 out of 5

    Rohin Dubey

  22. 4 out of 5

    rob cookson

  23. 5 out of 5

    Katja

  24. 4 out of 5

    Lina

  25. 5 out of 5

    LAURI CRUMLEY COATES

  26. 4 out of 5

    Rosalien Koster

  27. 4 out of 5

    Lindsay

  28. 4 out of 5

    Esse

  29. 5 out of 5

    Ashleigh

  30. 4 out of 5

    Inge

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