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A STUDY IN SCARLET

Global Jihad: Current Patterns and Future Trends
By Rajeev Sharma,
Kaveri, Rs 495

India has been one of the worst victims of terrorism. Since independence, the country has witnessed different kinds of terror ' religious, ethnic, ideological and externally-sponsored strife. Ironically, there is a dearth of literature on terrorism in a country that has been a victim of this menace for a long time. Rajeev Sharma's book, however, is a welcome addition to the scarce body of work on this subject.

Sharma analyses the concept of jihad, both in its theocratic and empirical form, and delves into the organizational structures of terrorist groups in different parts of the globe. However, while referring to terrorism in India, Sharma covers only those outfits that operate from outside the country. The book is well-written with titles that are relevant and logical. Unfortunately, the text often shifts its focus to peripheral issues. Dissension in the global jihadi movement, its content, alignments, emerging trends and implications do not find a place in Sharma's book. Moreover, the thematic unity of the subject has been broken by issues that are not strictly relevant. It would have been better if the author had identified the basic parameters of terrorism and its manifestations in the opening chapters of the book.

Sharma also alludes to subjects that are important in their own right, but have little to do with jihad. Issues like China's emergence as a major power and its relations with America, Pakistan's diplomatic initiatives and the country's internal affairs, bus diplomacy with India, and so on are of secondary importance while discussing international terrorism. Very little has changed in the jihadi movement in Pakistan since Musharraf assumed power. The president's carrot and stick approach to deal with different terror outfits and constant changes in his views on terrorism find no mention in this book. The author has also desisted from mentioning the Kargil episode and its integral association with a Pakistan-sponsored covert military offensive.

There is another problem with Sharma's book. The author develops an idea, but jumps on to a new one without concluding his previous line of thought. This leaves the readers confused and makes the book appear like an amalgamation of disjointed ideas and facts.

Sharma's analysis of the future of jihad is quite interesting. However, it would have been more rewarding if the author had assessed Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's personality and interpreted the writings of Ayman al-Zawahri instead of digressing to the London blasts. Sharma also fails to incorporate a number of important issues ' the ideological rift between the moderate and extremist elements in Islamic society, the consequences of America's possible withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan, the implications of Hamas assuming power in Palestine, and the effects of Iran entering into conflict with America.

The limitations notwithstanding, Sharma provides crucial information about the various terrorist organizations operating in Pakistan, Bangladesh, and southeast and central Asia. This will prove to be useful to the lay reader, helping him to understand the ideologies, strategies, activities and the inter-connectivity of various terrorist groups. By and large, the author has done a good job of presenting the various dimensions of terrorism and readers will discover little-known facts about this global malaise in these pages.

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