The Current

"The Management of Savagery" gives insight into ISIS' strategy

Many trying to understand ISIS' motivation are looking to a book written about twelve years ago called "The Management of Savagery." It was written by a man believed to have been in an al-Qaeda operative and was mostly ignored in the early 2000s. Now, it appears ISIS and others are singing from this playbook.
"The Management of Savagery", written by an al-Qaeda strategist was translated into English by Brookings Institution fellow Will McCants. The book gives insight into tactics being used by extremist groups. (Brookings Institution)

ISIS, Boko Haram, al-Shabab and al-Qaeda have all shown themselves to be brutally effective in their campaigns in the name of furthering their view of an extremist Islamic jihad. The resulting violence in places such as Syria, Iraq, Libya, Yemen, Somalia, and Nigeria is brutal and bloody.

To some degree, each of the groups has been using similar tactics but ISIS in particular seems to be following the teachings of a book published a decade ago called "The Management of Savagery." The book offers a kind of blueprint for militants committed to building a caliphate.

Will McCants has translated the text into English. He's a fellow with the Brookings Institution and the director of the Project on U.S. Relations with the Islamic World. He is also the author of the forthcoming book, "The ISIS Apocalypse: The History, Strategy, and Doomsday Vision of the Islamic State."  Will McCants was in Washington, DC. 

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This segment was produced by The Current's Naheed Mustafa. 


♦ The Management of Savagery (pdf) - Translated in English by Will McCants

♦ The Book That Really Explains ISIS - Think Progress