ISIS’s guidelines: Quran is simply a cover, a book is the heart.

TAUSEEF MUSTAFA/AFP/Getty Images

TAUSEEF MUSTAFA/AFP/Getty Images

Lately, several commentators and U.S. government and security forces officials have been claiming that there is a specific book that guides ISIS’s actions. The book, which was published as a pdf in 2004, is called “The Management of Savagery” and was written by an unknown author under the pseudonym “Abu Bakr Naji”. It has become popular among extremist groups such as al-Shabaab in Somalia. Abidance to the book’s principles draws an important line of distinction between Al-Qaeda and ISIS, to the extent that the latter becomes an organized dangerous threat.

The book presents “an alternative to the decentralized, “leaderless” approach to jihadism popular in the mid-2000s. Instead of using isolated attacks on super powers all over the globe, “The Management Of Savagery” offered an expansive plan for how a group of Muslim militants could violently seize land and establish their own self-governing Islamic state — much like ISIS is trying to do today.” and “recommends inciting violence between Muslims and stretching the military forces of a target nation by temporarily laying claim to energy sources. This destabilization is supposed to create “regions of savagery” — or true chaos wrought by war — where shell-shocked inhabitants willingly submit to an invading force such as ISIS to end conflict. This, Naji argues, eventually leads to the establishment of an extremist version of a Sunni caliphate.” “Thus, Naji’s writings, even if only somewhat influential to ISIS’s thinking, offer a word of caution to the U.S.; ISIS’s tactics, although undoubtedly cold-hearted and brutish, are anything but random, and their methods appear to be rooted in a calculated plan that accounts for — and may be bolstered by — the possibility of U.S. military intervention. How the Obama administration responds could spell the difference between a United States that breaks ISIS, or becomes another player in their twisted game.”

These excerpt portrays the book’s core strategy:

“By polarization here, I mean dragging the masses into the battle such that polarization is created between all of the people. Thus, one group of them will go to the side of the people of truth, another group will go to the side of the people of falsehood, and a third group will remain neutral — awaiting the outcome of the battle in order to join the victor. We must attract the sympathy of this latter group, and make it hope for the victory of the people of faith, especially since this group has a decisive role in the later stages of the present battle. Dragging the masses into the battle requires more actions which will inflame opposition and which will make the people enter into the battle, willing or unwilling, such that each individual will go to the side which he supports. We must make this battle very violent, such that death is a heartbeat away, so that the two groups will realize that entering this battle will frequently lead to death. That will be a powerful motive for the individual to choose to fight in the ranks of the people of truth in order to die well, which is better than dying for falsehood and losing both this world and the next.” — Abu Bakr Naji, The Management of Savagery

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