NPR’s Rachel Martin speaks with Graeme Wood, who has interviewed members of ISIS (what balls!) for his book The Way of the Strangers: Encounters with the Islamic State:
MARTIN: You write in the book that part of the West’s misunderstanding of ISIS is a kind of refusal to acknowledge its religious roots, that there is a theology behind all of the violence.
WOOD: Yes. I think that there is a strong urge to say that Islam has nothing to do with religion, that ISIS is a bunch of psychopaths, people with blades cutting off heads wantonly. Unfortunately that’s just not true. ISIS has looked into Islamic history with historical accuracy, with intellectual rigor. And that’s part of what has produced that group as well as its Muslim opponents.
Wood’s must-read piece in The Atlantic, “What ISIS Really Wants”, has been one of the most-read long pieces of the past 2 years.