Islamic State

Islamic State

The Digital Caliphate

9780863561344 November 2015 Paperback 272pp

About the Book

Based on interviews with Islamic State insiders, Abdel Bari Atwan reveals the origins and modus operandi of the fastest-growing and richest terrorist group in the world. Outlining its leadership structure and strategies, Atwan describes the group’s ideological differences with al-Qa‘ida and why IS appear to pose a greater threat to the West. He shows how it has masterfully used social media, Hollywood ‘blockbuster’-style videos, and even jihadi computer games to spread its message and to recruit young people, from Tunisia to Bradford.

As Islamic State continues to dominate the world’s media headlines with acts of ruthless violence, Atwan considers its chances of survival and offers indispensable insight into potential government responses to contain the IS threat.

About the Author

Abdel Bari Atwan is a Palestinian writer and journalist. The former editor-in-chief of the London-based daily al-Quds al-Arabi for twenty-five years, he now edits the Rai al-Youm news website – the Arab world’s first Huffington Post-style outlet. He is a regular contributor to a number of publications, including the Guardian and Scottish Herald, and is a frequent guest on radio and television, including regular stints on the BBC’s Dateline London. Atwan interviewed Osama bin Laden twice in the late 1990s and has cultivated uniquely well-placed sources from within the various branches of al-Qa‘ida and other jihadi groups, including IS, over the last twenty years. His books include Islamic State: The Digital Caliphate, The Secret History of al-Qa'ida and After bin Laden: al-Qa'ida, the Next Generation, as well as a memoir, A Country of Words: A Palestinian Journey from the Refugee Camp to the Front Page.

→ Author Website


‘This is a brave and important book ... If you want to understand what motivates those prepared to behead hostages and post the results on the internet, then this book is a must-read.’
Gavin Esler

‘In his book, based on visits to the Turkish-Syrian border, online interviews with jihadists, and the access to leaders he enjoys as one of the Arab world’s most respected journalists, Atwan draws a convincing picture of the Islamic State … An authoritative account’
New York Review of Books

‘Impeccable and authoritative … Atwan has written a book that is accessible to the lay reader while casting new and invaluable insights ... Any reader who wants to know what makes the Islamic State group tick would do well to start here.’
The Herald

‘Atwan, one of the leading analysts on the modern Middle East, delivers a uniquely informed, crisply argued and excellent account of the world's most powerful terrorist organization.'
Peter Bergen, author of Manhunt: The Ten-Year Search for bin Laden from 9/11 to Abbottabad

‘Comprehensive and well-researched … Atwan has thrown considerable light on the IS phenomenon, explaining its origins, leadership and organisation ... This outstanding book tells us how it all started.'
Business Standard