Sunday, September 27, 2015

ISIS: Inside the Army of Terror by Hassan Hassan and Micheal Weiss

Image result for isis inside the army of terrorI was recently travelling to NYC, while I was there I visited Strand, a 90 year old, three story legendary book store in Manhattan. I was overwhelmed by the sheer number of books, obviously I was looking for something in history or mystery. So I reached out to the store assistant and asked him if he could suggest me something on the middle east crisis, as I have been wanting to read up on it since a very long time, that is when the gentleman handed me: ISIS, inside the army of terror.

In the beginning of our story Iraq was ruled by Saddam Hussein, a brutal military dictator who ruled with an iron fist and was known for his genocidal tendencies. Anyone who opposed his tyrannical rule was put to death. The Kurds were to him what Jews were to Hitler. Enter USA, after 9/11 the Bush administration got an opportune pretext to invade and destroy the Saddam regime. Saddam was captured and hanged, but the invasion of the great serpent(USA, as referred by Jihadis and all Muslims alike) in Muslims land was a source of great trepidation and opportunity for many Islamic terror groups. One of them was the Jordanian terrorist called Al Zarqawi, also the founding father of the ISIS. Al Zarqawi traveled to Afghanistan and Pakistan during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, after his return he was imprisoned by the Jordanian government in 1992. It was during his time in confinement that Zarqawi became radicalized and formed his own coterie to overthrow the Jordanian rulers. We see this as a recurring theme in the book some misguided albeit budding terrorist gets locked up in Jail either by Jordanian, Americans, Egyptians or Iraqis and he comes out as a full blown Jihadist, wiling to even murder fellow believers.

Image result for abu bakr al-baghdadi


Zarqawi went on to ally with Al Qaeda, he was even declared their Emir in Iraq. A Brutal man who had a known hatred for Shias, targeted them with the same ferocity as was reserved for the Americans. VBIED, was the weapon of choice for Zarqawi's group and they used it devastatingly. Zarqawi was eventually killed in 2006 by the American forces, but the damage had already been done and an organization was already in place. When in 2015 Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi announced the caliphate and then the eventual capture of large swathes of land in both Iraq and Syria many people were left stupefied by the incredible rise of ISIS in a very short span of time, but to observers and SMEs on the Middle East, rise of ISIS was neither quick nor without help.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

My Late Wives by John Dickson Carr

Image result for my late wivesThe Grand master of mystery returns! JDC is back with another mystery involving the 'old man', perhaps one of the greatest detectives in detective fiction, Sir Henry Merrivale(HM). My Late wives is not a locked room mystery nor an impossible crime novel, but it is an excellent murder mystery. Very different from the standard Christie fare.

My Late wives offers a serial killer as the pivot to the engrossing story. Roger Bewlay is a serial murderer, he preys on young lonely woman and when he has taken what he needs, he kills them. Roger has been elusive and enigmatic to the police.  They don't even have an accurate description of the charlatan. Chief Inspector Masters(Watson to HM) has been trying to hunt down Roger for years without any success.

Enter Bruce, a well known actor who receives a script on the life of Roger Bewlay. The content of the script are suspiciously detailed. This makes Bruce and his coterie of friends to think about a most dangerous plan i.e. to act out the script in real life and see how the unwitting participants react. This decision sets off chain of events which leads to murder, mystery and the eventual discovery of Roger Bewlay.