Unholy Wars is a work by John K. Cooley, a journalist whose career dates back to the war of Algerian independence. The war is a detailed, complex explanation of the rise of militant Islam, and the role the United States played in creating this movement during the Afghan War. The book was written before the World Trade Center attacks, and is rather prophetic in its description of the extent and fantaticism of Bin Laden's network.

When I read the first few chapters, I thought that perhaps Mr. Cooley was not the world's best writer. His sentences often throw a confusing array of facts at the reader, and even within a paragraph, he may go 20 years in the past and 1000 miles away in describing the history of a particular organization or individual. After a while, I figured that due to the density of the information, he had no choice but to cram every sentence full of content. In under 300 pages, he crowds in a cast of thousands, stretching from the moderate rightist regime of Anwar Sadat in the 1970s, to the drug smuggling mafias of Central Asia in the 1980s, to the rise of seperatism in the Philippines in the 1990s. Perhaps the book is in some places too full of information, but if anything, that really reflects the situation: anyone who thinks they can get a handle on the spread of fundamentalism is very blind to the hundreds of different organizations with different ethnic and ideological compositions. Indeed, while he is very critical of "Islamism" as he calls it, he makes it clear in the introduction that he does not think a generalized "crusade" against Islam would be a good idea, pointing out that that would be a repeat of the crusade against the Soviet Union that brought this situation in the first place.

This book is full of a bewildering array of secrets, and in a fair world, these would be more fully investigated, and the officers in the CIA (along with, as the author suggests, Mossad) who originally set up the fundamentalist movement would be put up for Court Martial. But failing that, everyone who is concerned about the world situation should read this book.

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