Nicolas Hénin, author of Jihad Academy (2015), is featured in a Feb. 16, 2016 CBC The Current interview. Here is a link to the transcript.

Nicolas Hénin is author of Jihad Academy: A Former ISIS Hostage and Veteran Middle East Journalist Explores Misperceptions of Islamic State and Their Consequences (2015).

A February 16, 2016 CBC The Current transcript of an interview with Hénin can be accessed here. The interview is of interest. If I recall correctly, I decided to borrow the book, from the Toronto Public Library, as a result of hearing the interview.

It makes for a good read. It tells a story that is a little more comprehensive, and for me a little more engaging and believable, than many, everyday news accounts related to the topics at hand.

A blurb for Jihad Academy (2015) at the Toronto Public Library reads:

“Framed by Hénin’s personal experience as a hostage of ISIS alongside James Foley, Jihad Academy debunks the myths surrounding Islamic extremism and provides a revealing insight into the sect’s strange and distorted world. By invading Iraq in 2003 and not intervening in Syria since 2011, the West helped fuel radicalisation and continues to fuel it, by making diplomatic compromises with dictators, by refusing to heed the suffering of populations, and by failing to offer a convincing counter-narrative or a political alternative. Hénin shows how Western societies share the responsibility for the creation of the new jihadists, explains how they are moulded and how the West has played Islamic State’s game and spread its propaganda, allowing it to enlist more and more recruits ready to fight for a distorted vision of Islam. He then advances possible strategies for repairing what can still be repaired.”

[End of text]

The chapters are organized as follows

Chapter 1: Marketing Secularism

The chapter begins with the following overview:

“The Syrian regime is not secular. Its foundations are built on sectarianism. Its claim to defend minorities is a myth.”

Chapter 2: Birth of the Jihadists

The key point is:

“The Syrian regime is not fighting Islamic State; it created it. Islamic State in turn is not fighting the Syrian regime.”

Chapter 3: Money Talks

The salient point is:

“The revolution’s economic and social roots shouldn’t be forgotten. The regime and armed groups are fighting for control of revenue and resources.”

Chapter 4: A Self-fulfilling Prophecy

The chapter begins with the following point:

“The radicalisation of the Syrian revolution is the natural result of our inaction.”

Chapter 5: Who’s Killing Whom? And, More Importantly, How Many?

Here the key point is:

“The West is obsessed with the security risk the jihadists represent. Local people, however, are the jihadists’ main casualties. And the worst terrorists are regime forces.”

Chapter 6: Syria and Iraq: Two Countries, One Destiny

The chapter notes:

“The Iraqi and Syrian crises are linked. Any policy that treats them separately is bound to fail.”

Chapter 7: The Kobane Scam

The case is made that:

“The defence of minorities is a misleading trap. All of the region’s peoples are entitled to security. The ‘mobilisation’ for minorities – Kurds, Yazidis or Christians – is a form of communalism and promotes sectarianism.”

Chapter 8: The Dabiq Miracle

The key point is:

“International intervention is a recruitment sergeant for Islamic State. It turns its apocalyptic prophesy into reality. Intervention weakens the moderate opposition and has contributed to growing sectarianism in the region.”

Chapter 9: Restoring Ties

The chapter notes:

“People’s trust needs to be regained. The priority must be the protection of civilians.
Think local. Do not forget the economy. Reform governance.”

Conclusion – A New State of Barbarity

The book ends with the following point (p. 139):

“We do nevertheless have to care about Syria and Iraq. These countries are Europe’s neighbours. If we forget them, they will remind us of their existence in the worst possible way: through images of violence and via terrorist attacks. Demonstrations of their despair will return to blow up in our faces. We should also bear in mind the strength and resilience of Syrians. Hala Kodmani suggests that ‘their best form of resistance is not men under arms. It is that of civilians, of those who continue to find the strength to burst out laughing from the depths of hideouts and basements, caught between regime bombings and jihadist checkpoints.’ Yet how much longer can laughter survive? The political scientist Hamit Bozarslan is worried that ‘the Arab city, the Arab body politic, is dying. It could well be that in 2020 there will be no Syrian society, no Iraqi society, and no Yemeni society either. I am not sure that everybody realises how serious the situation is.’

[End of excerpt]

March 23, 2016 article by Nicolas Hénin

A March 23, 2016 Guardian article by Nicolas Hénin is entitled: “In the fanatical world of Isis, your duty is to kill and die.”

The subheading reads: “If there is any hope in the Brussels outrage, it is that there are still humans in the bombers’ ranks who refuse to meet their death.”

Related topics

An April 5, 2016 Brookings Institution article is entitled: “Why are efforts to counter al-Shabab falling so flat?”

I became interested in the Brookings Institution article after reading an evidence-based overview years ago, about the economic benefits, to a country, from effective early childhood education. It was based on the work of Fraser Mustard, among others. I was super impressed and have been reading longread articles at the Brookings Institution website as a primary means of keeping up with in-depth reading about world events.

Previous posts at my website, under the category of military history and related topics, highlight evidence-based analyses of topics addressed by Gillian B. White and Nicolas Hénin, among others.

The topics include, among others:

Elite storytellers

An Aug. 3, 2015 [that is, last year] article at is entitled: “Exposing the false prophets of social transformation”

The subhead reads: “A growing group of elite storytellers present radical solutions to global problems, but their ideas actually inhibit real change and strengthen the status quo.”


An April 12, 2015 Brookings Institution article – entitled “Everyone says the Libya intervention was a failure. They’re wrong” – adds an additional perspective, regarding the topics at hand.


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