Peter Bergen is the go to guy when it comes to understanding the mindset of Jihadist terrorists. Bergen has authored or co-authored a shelf full of must read books on the subject; his latest, United States of Jihad: Investigating America’s Homegrown Terrorists, tries to delve into the minds and actions of terrorist actors who have signed on to the Islamic Jihad either on our shores our exported themselves to take part in terror overseas.
Bergen tries to help us understand what makes these people tick, what motivates them act out as lone wolves or to travel to far flung places to plan and or participate in mass murder or suicide attacks. Along the Bergen is careful to examine what actions law enforcement and homeland security have taken to try to identify these budding Jihadis and prevent them from taking action.
Bergen makes the case that the multi-billion dollar National Security Agency program undertaken by the Obama administration, of spying on our phone calls and e-mail in an effort to sweep up Jihadist planning has been an abject failure and despite the administrations claims that the program derailed many terrorist attacks before they started, that simply doesn’t match the reality.
Bergen lays out the threads of commonality that many of these angry, losers who sign on to the Jihad share. His chapter on the Boston Marathon bombing Tsarnaev brothers had me concluding that they were the participation trophy winners of the terrorist world; two losers who had everything handed to them when they relocated to the U.S. and yet always managed to come up short—then blame everybody but themselves for their failures.
As with Bergen’s prior books, United States of Jihad: Investigating America’s Homegrown Terrorists, is a thoroughly research and well crafted examination of not only the history of these homegrown Jihadis, but also the current and future state of what will be an important focus for the war on terror.