The Power of Checklists

by Ahmed Humayun In The Checklist Manifesto – How to Get Things Right (2009), Atul Gawande – surgeon, Harvard professor, and New Yorker staff writer – recommends the strategic use of checklists to manage complexity. Gawande notes that while most domains of human activity in the modern era have witnessed a striking expansion in knowledge,…

‘Radical Islam’

by Ahmed Humayun “Mr. Obama's refusal to speak of “radical Islam” also betrays his failure to understand the sources of Islamic State's legitimacy and thus its allure to young Muslim men….Mr. Obama's refusal to acknowledge the real nature of the Islamist threat creates an opening for Mr. Trump's immigration ban. It suggests to Americans that…

The Politics of Barbarism

by Ahmed Humayun Is there a method to the madness of Islamist extremism? Yes, if a voluminous literature produced by militants in Arabic and other languages is to be believed. One example of the genre is the militant manual, the Management of Savagery, a text highly influential among Islamist radicals, and translated from Arabic into…

Who are the terrorists?

by Ahmed Humayun Two weeks ago the United Arab Emirates (UAE) put dozens of Muslim groups around the world on its terrorism list. While the list includes organizations such as Al Qaeda, al-Nusra front, and the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL), which is uncontroversial, it also includes many other cultural and civic organizations…

Imran Khan’s Misstep

by Ahmed Humayun The 2013 elections in Pakistan gained the Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) the government in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province as well as the third most prominent position in parliament. This striking success was a vindication of Imran Khan, PTI's leader, who had struggled for many years to break into a sclerotic system dominated by autocratic political…

Caliphs as Entrepreneurs

by Ahmed Humayun Islam has a new caliph, at least if the Iraq-based militant organization that calls itself the Islamic State is to be believed.* In what was touted to be his first public appearance, self-proclaimed caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi spoke about the necessity for implementing Sharia and using war to defeat the enemies of…

Pakistan’s War – Part II

by Ahmed Humayun (This is the second post on Pakistan's struggle against militancy. Part I is here). To prevail against an insurrection, a state must fight on many fronts. It must construct a comprehensive military and political strategy, strengthen its institutional capacity to fight an internal war, and mobilize public support for a protracted struggle.…

Pakistan’s War – Part I

by Ahmed Humayun (This is the first post in a series on Pakistan's struggle against militancy). Almost a decade in, the rebellion by the Pakistani Taliban against Islamabad shows no signs of flagging. Tough, savvy, and agile, the insurgents have expanded their campaign from the isolated northwestern tribal regions all the way to urban centers…