San Bernardino and the Metastasizing Jihad

From the Wall Street Journal, on the butchers who carried out last week’s attack in San Bernardino:

Agents are pursuing “the very real possibility’’ that Ms. Malik was the catalyst for the violence, said one official. So far her husband “seems like someone who was searching for answers,’’ the official said. . . .

An initial review of the couple’s online activity indicates one or both explored propaganda from al Qaeda and the Nusra Front, a terror group fighting in Syria, officials said.

They also appear to have learned some terrorism tradecraft, with investigators pointing to their move to smash their cellphones, stockpile thousands of rounds of ammunition and build more than a dozen black-powder pipe bombs.

From my book, Winning the Unwinnable War (Lexington Books, 2009):

Suicide bombing, another tactic heavily practiced in Iraq [during the insurgency], is now rampant in Afghanistan. The sharing of “best practices” among jihadists is potentially unlimited in its scale and lethal impact. Although person-to-person training may be the traditional mode of transferring combat knowledge, the Web offers Islamists an inexpensive, worldwide communications platform. Through bulletin boards, online videos, and written manuals, they can recruit fighters to their cause and disseminate to them hard-won expertise in mass murder, to be deployed anywhere.

Nothing that the United States has done in Iraq or Afghanistan has given jihadists reason to abandon their desire for such mass-casualty attacks on the West. Washington’s policy has in fact left them stronger than before. It has made the ideal of Islamic totalitarianism seem ever more viable — both by empowering and blessing Islamist rule, and by betraying its own timidity in the refusal to crush the jihad. The Islamist equation that fidelity to Islam is the path to existential dominance, while American secularism (read: impiety) means weakness, thus gains added plausibility in their minds.

Emphasis added.

Chapters six and seven are available in PDF, for free, but I encourage you to read the entire book. The Kindle edition is the best value. And if you have read it, please consider sharing your thoughts on the book by posting a review on

I will have more to say about the Islamist movement. Stay tuned. For now, have a look at these ARI resources. And if you missed my talk on the Islamist movement, you can watch it here: