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The Orton Report
March 15, 2017

Islamic State’s History and Strategy: Review of Brian Fishman’s The Master Plan

Kyle Orton

Brian Fishman’s The Master Plan provides a comprehensive history of the Islamic State’s (IS) strategic evolution, covering the personalities and events that shaped one of the most feared terrorist-insurgent groups that has ever existed. Eminently readable, in places even amusing—no small feat in a book about IS—Fishman flips with ease between the overview and the granular to demonstrate his points, using new sources that will allow as much supplementary research as a reader could wish for, and ties it together in a narrative that will be of use to both specialists and generalists.

Fishman’s title refers to a seven-stage framework, which prescribes key objectives and a timeline toward the establishment of a caliphate in Iraq that can then expand across the region. The plan was drawn up by Sayf al-Adl, the Egyptian military deputy to Osama bin Ladin, in the months after the fall of the Taliban regime in November 2001.

The founder of the IS movement, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, had not had an easy first meeting with Bin Ladin. Al-Zarqawi agreed with al-Qaeda that most Muslims weren’t true believers and that an Islamic state must be formed; yet there was no agreement on what to do with these wayward Muslims or when to establish a religious state. It was al-Adl who convinced Bin Ladin to provide al-Zarqawi with resources and space for a terrorist training camp in Taliban-controlled Afghanistan, in no small part because al-Qaeda needed to offset the power of other Arab jihadists present in the country.

Read the full article at Fathom Journal