Left: Pro-ISIS demonstrators in the Netherlands, call for “Death to Jews” – Newsweek, 7/30/14.
Review of Nidra Poller’s The Black Flag of Jihad Stalks La République, (Authorship Intl., November 2015).
Reporting from Brussels on March 18, after the arrest of Salah Abdeslam, the Belgian ISIS operative who participated in the November 13 attacks in Paris, the Associated Press commented:
“His capture brought instant relief to police and ordinary people in France and Belgium who had been looking over their shoulder for Abdeslam since Nov. 13 when Islamic extremist attackers fanned out across the French capital and killed 130 people at a rock concert, the national stadium, and cafes. It was France’s deadliest attack in decades.”
On March 22, ISIS attacked Brussels.
Had people read Nidra Poller’s powerful book The Black Flag Stalks La République, they would have known better and could have been less surprised and possibly better prepared for ISIS’s terror attacks.
Poller skillfully and painstakingly details how the Islamic State has targeted France and Belgium. None of this would have happened, she argues, had these countries honestly and forthrightly confronted the rapidly escalating Islamic anti-Semitism. But both Belgium and Frace have mostly ignored Islamic anti-Semitism – often dressed as anti-Israel attacks – since the 1960s and 70s, by accommodating PLO terrorists.
Poller’s The Black Flag traces the interlocking links of Islamic terrorism, how the accommodation and often support of Palestinian terrorists prepared the ground for today’s Islamic State. Islamic aggression breeds terrorism. The names of the Islamist terror groups, with or without territorial aspirations changes – Palestinian, Al Qaeda, the Islamic State, Hezbollah and, of course, the Mother of all terrorist states – the Islamic Republic of Iran, but their modus operandi of extreme violence remains the same. They feed off each other creating shocking, tragic and sensational headlines after suicide bombings, stabbing and more, targeting Europeans cities like in a Russian Roulette.These punk jihadis, as Poller aptly calls them, aim to kill us en masse.
Poller, the consummate analyst, author, and translator of the philosophical works of Emmanuel Levinas has zeroed in on the dynamics of Islamic terrorism – paranoia with its emblematic stalking. If you have ever wondered why we spend so much money on ‘surveillance’ for counterterrorism, this is because it is our political “counter-transference” to their psychosis
The jihadis make a psychological imprint of their accusatory eye projected into us – quite literally and concretely through assassinations, knife intifadas, crucifixions, severing heads, bombing, etc. Hence, we have had to develop “the eye in the sky” among other tactical tools in our counterterrorism toolbox to foil the terrorists.
The Belgians, the French and the rest of Europe should have realized that jihadis have to be monitored at all times. Paranoia arises out of the culture in which there is no sense of individual self – only the dysfunctional group dominates in a brutal, violent manner.
Poller unflinchingly saw the wave of terrorism coming in her “Dispatches” from Paris and Israel. She has not stood by idly as her eloquent pen attests as she soberly analyzes the problem. Long ago in Paris she witnessed radical Muslims flaunt their aggression while the passive terrorism of the French unintegrated and ungrateful Muslim community stood by, turning their group’s “blind eye” – as if to say, there go We with the grace of Allah. The former jihadi, Tawfik Hamid calls this passive political terrorism. Poller depicts it all accurately.
Her previous book, Al Dura: Long Range Ballistic Myth, broke new ground, coining the term lethal narrative to debunk the fake drama of Muhammad al-Durrah with its Islamic perverse image and twisted words. In The Black Flag Poller takes her narrative into the heart of darkness of the Islamic State.
Poller’s work offers the psychological edge that we need to overcome these punk jihadis. As we continue in this long war, she reminds us that there is a difference between being prudent and being paranoid and that delusion will never win. Alas, it will undoubtedly get a lot worse before it gets better.
Currently reminiscent of the Nazi agitations in Europe before WWII, the continent has become a grave security risk. Some worry it’s too late for Europe. However by achieving and holding on to a critical psychological edge, we can still win this war.
Poller shows us how, as she bravely turns the tables on the Black Flag, putting it under surveillance narrative. For those who are just getting started in the field of Islamic terrorism, this is a must read book. For those of us who have been doing this for a long time, this is a canonical text.
*Nancy Hartevelt Kobrin, Ph.D. is a psychoanalyst, an Arabist & counter-terrorist expert and a Fellow at the American Center for Democracy.