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International Security in a World of Fragile States

Islamic States and Islamist Organizations

Subjects: Political Science, International Relations, Comparative Politics
Open Access : 9780472902897, 232 pages, 8 figures, 1 table, 6 x 9, October 2022
Paperback : 9780472055517, 232 pages, 8 figures, 1 table, 6 x 9, October 2022
Hardcover : 9780472075515, 232 pages, 8 figures, 1 table, 6 x 9, October 2022

This open access version is made available thanks in part to the support of libraries participating in Knowledge Unlatched.
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Fragile states are laboratories for Islamist terror groups

Table of contents

List of Illustrations
Chapter One: Introduction
State Fragility
Jihadi Salafi Groups
Theory and Methodology
Organization of Book
Chapter Two: Fragile States and Jihadi Salfi Groups in the Islamic World
State Fragility in the Islamic World
Organizational Development of JSGs
International Environment of the Rise of JSGs
Chapter Three: Root Causes of Al-Qaeda
Individual Level
Group Level
International Level
Chapter Four: Condition of the Rise of Al-Qaeda: State Fragility in Afghanistan
State Formation
State Conservatism
Social Transformation
Changes Brought About by War
State Fragility
State Fragility and the Rise of al-Qaeda
Lack of Legitimacy
Weak Authority
Lack of Capacity
Chapter Five: Root Causes of IS
The Insurgency
Jihadi Organization in Iraq
Root Causes of IS
Individual Level
Group Level
International level
Chapter Six: Condition of the Rise of IS: State Fragility in Iraq
State Formation and the Origins of State Fragility
The Monarchical Project (1921-1958)  
The Republican Project (1958-1968)  
The Baathist Project (1968-2003)  
State Fragility and Insurgency (2003-2004) 
The Contribution of State Fragility to the Rise of IS
Poor Legitimacy
Weak Authority
Contribution of Weak Authority to the Rise of IS
Lack of Capacity
Chapter Seven: Causes of al-Qaeda Revolt in Saudi Arabia
Individual Level
Group Level
International Level
Chapter Eight: Conditions of Al-Qaeda Revolt: State Fragility in Saudi Arabia
State Formation
State Fragility
State Fragility and the 2003 Revolt
Chapter Nine: Conclusion


Following the 9/11 attacks on New York and Washington, DC, there has been an increasing interest among scholars, students, and the interested public to study and learn about the Islamist-oriented terrorist organizations called Jihadi Salafi Groups (JSGs). Considering that these organizations emerged in highly fragile states, S. Yaqub Ibrahimi asks: how and why is state fragility linked to the emergence of JSGs?
Ibrahimi bases his study on three events: the establishment of al-Qaeda in Afghanistan in 1998, the rise of Islamic State in the post-Saddam Hussein Iraq, and the failed al-Qaeda effort to establish a base in Saudi Arabia in 2003. These case studies contain major aspects and features of the rise of JSGs and, together, explain the contribution of state fragility to the process of the formation and expansion of these terrorist organizations.
International Security in a World of Fragile States stands out as a pivotal work on the interconnection between the root causes of JSGs and state fragility conditions and their amalgamated role in the formation and evolution of these organizations. It contributes to IR and international security debates by developing a comprehensive but readily understandable narrative of the rise of JSGs in Islamic countries, and examining them in an analytical framework in which their root causes are categorized on individual, group, and international levels.

S. Yaqub Ibrahimi is Adjunct Professor of Political Science at Carleton University.

“A seminal work on the link between state fragility and violent Islamist organizations. Highly readable and insightful, the book uniquely examines how state fragility contributes to the formation and expansion of Jihadi Salafi Groups. The result is a critical assessment and explanation of one of the most serious and enduring security threats to the world.” 
—Elinor Sloan, Carleton University

- Elinor Sloan

International Security in a World of Fragile States is an essential book for anyone attempting to understand the nature and causes of violent jihadi organizations, as well as their impact on international security. Ibrahimi offers a novel framework for examining the relationship between terrorism and state fragility in the Islamic world.”
—Brian C. Schmidt, Carleton University

- Brian C. Schmidt

“The volume articulates a well-thought-out theory on the security dimensions of state fragility in the Middle East. Detailed and extensive case studies combine historical analysis, content analysis, and fieldwork. It is a fine contribution to the field that will stimulate considerably more research on the origins of Jihadi Salafi groups.”
—David Carment, Carleton University

- David Carment

“In International Security in a World of Fragile States, the author offers an intriguing and compelling historical and political analysis of the interweaving of state juridical fragility and defiiciency with the emergence, consolidation, and expansion of terror networks—networks that the author calls Jihadi Salafi Groups—in the Middle East. Using a sophisticated IR theoretical approach and writing in an accessible prose, Ibrahimi challenges some of the long-held views about ‘Islamic fundamentalism’ and offers a nuanced and even-handed examination of the dynamics, conditions, and root causes of some of the Salafi and Salafi-affiliated groups that pose an immanent threat to both regional and global security. This book is a deeply informed product of exhaustive and thorough research.”
—Wali Ahmadi, Department of Middle Eastern Languages and Cultures, University of California, Berkeley

- Wali Ahmadi

“This timely and thoroughly researched book lends convincing and unique evidence to the what, how, and in what way the rise of Jihadi Salafi Groups occurs. Ibrahimi’s research brings a unique insight as to how the lack of legitimacy, authority, and capacity of fragile states contribute to the emergence of JSGs. Above all the author’s deep knowledge and dedication to the subject is evident throughout.”
—Anastasia Filippidou, Cranfield University

- Anastasia Filippidou

"Overall, this very strong piece of scholarship marshals a vast amount of archival, secondary, and foreign-language sources and will benefit anyone interested in the rise and current state of jihadism."

- I. Levy, The Washington Institute for Near East Policy