The ISIS Apocalypse The History, Strategy, and Doomsday Vision of the Islamic State

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  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2015-09-22
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press

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The Islamic State is one of the most lethal and successful jihadist groups in modern history, surpassing even al-Qaeda. Thousands of its followers have marched across Syria and Iraq, subjugating millions, enslaving women, beheading captives, and daring anyone to stop them. Thousands more have spread terror beyond the Middle East under the Islamic State's black flag.

How did the Islamic State attract so many followers and conquer so much land? By being more ruthless, more apocalyptic, and more devoted to state-building than its competitors. The shrewd leaders of the Islamic State combined two of the most powerful yet contradictory ideas in Islam-the return of the Islamic Empire and the end of the world-into a mission and a message that shapes its strategy and inspires its army of zealous fighters. They have defied conventional thinking about how to wage wars and win recruits. Even if the Islamic State is defeated, jihadist terrorism will never be the same.

Based almost entirely on primary sources in Arabic-including ancient religious texts and secret al-Qaeda and Islamic State letters that few have seen - William McCants' The ISIS Apocalypse explores how religious fervor, strategic calculation, and doomsday prophecy shaped the Islamic State's past and foreshadow its dark future.

Author Biography

WILLIAM MCCANTS directs the project on U.S. Relations with the Islamic World at the Brookings Institution. He is adjunct faculty at Johns Hopkins University and a former U.S. State Department senior adviser for countering violent extremism. McCants has written dozens of articles on al-Qaeda and the Islamic State for popular audiences, including the tenth anniversary article on 9/11 for Foreign Affairs. McCants also translated a jihadist book on strategy favored by Islamic State adherents and founded the blog Jihadica.com. He lives in the Washington, D.C. area.

Table of Contents



Chapter 1

Raising the Black Flag 4

Chapter 2

Mahdi and Mismanagement 33

Chapter 3

Bannermen 50

Chapter 4

Resurrection and Tribulation 78

Chapter 5

Sectarian Apocalypse 108

Chapter 6

Caliphate Reborn 131
Conclusion 158

Appendices: Sunni Islamic Prophecies of the End Times 175
Appendix 1: The Final Days 176
Appendix 2: The Victorious Group 189
Appendix 3: The Mahdi is Preceded by an Islamic State 192
Appendix 4: Twelve Caliphs194

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