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Sword of Islam : Muslim Extremism from the Arab Conquests to the Attack on America

Product Description
“This book is not an indictment of Islam, one of the three beautiful religions which bloomed in this desert land. It is an indictment of those who took from Islam its most uncompromising tenets, forgetting the message of love that accompanies them. . . . I have chosen to write about Islamic extremism because it represents the most clear and present danger today. Islamic extremists like the Hizbollah and the organization of Osama bin Laden have the financial resources and the ability to obtain the most sophisticated of weaponry, a generation ago reserved for only the great powers of the world. Atomic, chemical, and biological warfare are three of the lightning bolts they can hurl at their enemies like modern incarnations of the Greek gods on Mount Olympus. It is for this reason that these groups must be studied and explored. . . .

“September 11 reminded us that Islamic terrorists, like Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaeda group, in their desire to recreate a harsh Muslim world that never really existed have declared war on every American. In fact, they have declared war on everybody, Christian, Muslim, or Jew, who does not agree with their view of a fascistic, theologic utopia. In doing so, they have hijacked Islam, one of our great desert faiths, as surely as the bin Laden terrorists hijacked the four jetliners on that desperate Tuesday.” — from the Introduction

Sword of Islam : Muslim Extremism from the Arab Conquests to the Attack on America


  1. Poorly researched, poorly written, full of inconsistencies and factual errors. Omissions and commissions are rampant. This is a scary state of affairs. If this was the source for the government evaluation of any historical/political conditions, hopefully it was not the only source. The author managed to confuse historical events and geographical facts in addition to his dismal attempts to use one thread to connect Nazis in South America with Bin Laden. He can not get a handle on what was in 1948, a United Nation’s declaration of the partition, Ashura which was indicated at the time for accent of Mohammed to havens and Ali’s death up to a conflicting dates for the death of king Hussein of Jordan. In addition, the book suffers from a marked lack of proper editing, incorrect (not due to translation) of Arabic words, and a mix-up that makes the reader think that there was more than one author, who did not use the same references (which by the way are almost dependent on the “Philadelphia Enquirer”). The only bright spot in Murphy’s 367 pages is the last 10 pages, which spell out a futuristic flexible vision that is lacking throughout the whole book and Appendix II (which is co-authored by R. Don Green).
    It is important if you writing about a subject with many sources in another language to seek help in review and translation from somebody who is familiar with the culture and the language.
    Example of the deficiencies in this book: there are alot of contradictory ideas. There is also a lot of repetition and cut and paste. The excuse of poor translation and the use of a quotation from “Lawrence of Arabia” is a poor excuse for improper editing or revising of text. This excuse still does not explain incorrect dates, and geographical mix up. Specific examples for the help needed:a. deficiencies in the translation: say “Tanzim” not “Tamzin”. Do not add Al (The) to a noun (Fatah, Hizbollah, Mecca, Quarrish) it is like saying The New York. “Hawatmeh” and not “Hawatmen” p167. Mujahideen and not “Muhahideen al-Khalq” p158. Say Intifada neither “Infitidas” of Yassir Arafat nor “intifida”
    b. examples of historical mistakes: Prophet Mohammed did not ascend to heavens on “Ashura” (the tenth day of the first lunar month). Ashura is not the occasion of thr death of Ali p165. “before his tragic death in 2000, King Hussein of Jordan..” p198. In Jordan, the death of King Hussein on February 7, 1999 brought crown prince…” p199. “The 1948 united Nations decision which set up the state of Israel also established the kingdom of Transjordan, now Jordan (Transjordan was established in 1920s). “Any chemist can cook anthrax” p 217.
    Selected Quotation:
    “While the war of religion tore apart West Europe, and the Christian European which craze caused the deaths of unknown thousands… In a very real way, the Ottoman Empire represented a version of tolerant society that the West would not recognize until the Enlightenment of the 18th century and which today is endangered in the countries of the Arab World.” p80
    Rating: 1 / 5

  2. This book has plenty about the crimes of Haj Amin el Husseini, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, who conducted a somewhat inefficient mass murder campaign against Jewish farmers in the region, urged Hitler to expand his Final Solution to the Middle Eastern Jews, helped engineer the entry of Iraq into WWII on the side of the Axis, and when he had to flee Baghdad, spent most of the rest of the war in German occupied territory. He was never prosecuted for war crimes (no doubt due in part to the obsequious behavior that went on in European countries eager to regain their colonial empires, including the interment of Jews in British prison camps on Cyprus), and wound up living in Egypt where he was active in his and many other Arabs’ lifelong campaign to exterminate the Jews. His and others’ similar efforts no doubt contributed to the foundation of modern Israel.

    Overall, this book traces the history of Islamicism, the political practice (which began with Mohammed by the way) of killing every non-Moslem in sight and trying to set up a totalitarian state run by a religious hierarchy.

    Recommended reading:

    -:- The Quest for the Red Prince by by Michael Bar-Zohar (1585747394)

    Rating: 4 / 5

  3. On this website, John F. Murphy, Jr., categorically denies any involvement with the CIA assigned to him by my prior review of this book, which incidentally was a favorable one. However, on the Website for Prometheus Books, the publisher of Sword of Islam, located at the following website:

    anyone including you can locate the following biographical sketch of John F. Murphy, Jr. the author of Sword of Islam:

    “John F. Murphy Jr. is a military historian and the founder and President of The Grenadier Company, a private research firm specializing in military history, international relations, guerilla warfare, and terrorism. He has authored two confidential reports for the CIA, has been a lecturer in European and American History at St. Joseph University and Drexel University in Philadelphia, and is a guest columnist and reporter for the Philadelphia Daily News. He is currently writing a two-volume history of the early American frontier for the University of Missouri Press.”

    Thus, Murphy’s own publisher advertises on his own website that “he has authored two confidential reports for the CIA” and that he runs a private firm “specializing in military history, international relations, guerilla warfare and terrorism” [sic].

    The connection between the author and professional intelligence gathering is altogether evident from his own publishing company’s website. His own publisher admits and advertises that Murphy has been a contract employee of the CIA, writing at least two reports for them. I make no independent judgment of the truth or falsity of that information but merely repeat what his own publisher writes. Murphy’s categorical denials, which he has repeated on this and many other websites, seem a little bizarre when you consider what his own publisher says on his own website about his CIA involvement.

    Despite Murphy’s denials to the contrary, it is plain and obvious that despite his express disavowals to the contrary, he clearly is alleged by his publisher to have written (and to have gathered intelligence professionally) in the form of two confidential reports for one or more national intelligence agencies, and his other links to professional intelligence may be guessed at from the nature of his private consulting business and the fact that his viewpoints in this book are so violently pro-government and pro-CIA and anti-Muslim.

    In addition to the foregoing, this book was reviewed by the Weekly Intelligence Notes of the Association of Former Intelligence Officers (“AFIO”) in its August 5, 2002 issue, located at:

    That Review stated:


    SWORD OF ISLAM: Muslim Extremism from the Arab conquests to the Attack on America, by John F. Murphy Jr., Prometheus Books, Amherst, NY 2002. ISBN 1-59102-010-7, with Appendices, Notes, Glossary, Index and Bibliography. This is a popular history, well researched and authentic, written clearly and well. John Murphy traces the intricate interconnections among various terrorist cells, and puts recent terrorist attacks in a historical context. The reader will find this useful in understanding the roots of Islamic extremism that has erupted periodically over the ages.

    Such subjects as the September 2, 1898 defeat of the Mahdiist army at Omdurman, Sudan, that spoiled an Islamic Messiah’s efforts to ‘liberate’ the Moslem world from Western ‘corruption’ and colonial control, and the more recent violent acts by the PLO in trying to counter the Israeli occupation of Palestine, including the massacre of Israeli athletes at the 1972 Olympics by the Moslem Black September group, as well as the author’s description of bin Laden in terms of the historical context, are most interesting. Incidentally, the author, a military historian, is objective in pointing out that the other two religions bred in the deserts of the “Holy Land,” Judaism and Christianity, also have produced their share of extremism and terrorism. This book is worth reading. (John Waller)

    [Editor Note: The author has arranged for AFIO Members to receive a 10% discount for orders placed directly with Prometheus at 1-800-421-0351, ext 214, as for Marcia Rogers].”

    Id. Mr. Murphy’s disavowal of any involvement with the intelligence community is even more intriguing when one considers that the book was reviewed prominently by a magazine prominently devoted to the group “former intelligence officers”. Now I draw no conclusions whether Mr. Murphy is one of these or not, but why would his book be reviewed in such a magazine unless he was a member of this community, a community of former intelligence officers? It seems a strange place to have an academic book reviewed under other circumstances. No other book was reviewed in the issue under consideration. Only Murphy’s book was reviewed. But don’t take my word for it; examine the evidence for yourself and then you decide if Murphy is telling the truth, or if the facts speak more plainly for themselves.

    In light of the clear evidence of the facts, I would kindly ask for an apology from Mr. Murphy, who clearly is somewhat wrong here. My review, to repeat, was POSITIVE of this book. Why Mr. Murphy seems to go to great lengths to deny his past work with the intelligence community, when simple computer searches amply reveal his connections, is curious.

    Moreover, if Mr. Murphy has no special government experience, then why is his point of view in this book special??? It would seem that the experience of writing for the CIA two intelligence reports would add, not subtract, to Mr. Murphy’s qualifications as an author, as is amply noted in Prometheus Books’ website.

    Murphy should admit what he did and when he did it. End of story. His disavowals are silly and misleading, and unfair to me and others who have even cursorily looked at this.

    –Arthur Kyriazis, book reviewer
    Rating: 5 / 5

  4. I must agree that there are several tangents and inconsistencies within the book. It does, however, raise some interesting intellectual theories on the origins of radical Islamic extremism. I would not use it as a primer to terrorism in the Middle East by any stretch of the word.
    Rating: 3 / 5

  5. The author does have much factual information in the book, but he paints Islam as a religion of nothing but extreamists(IN MY HUMBLE OPINION). He grasps at straws in some parts of the book trying to link certain terrorist groups together. He even suggests that it is likely that Al Queada and HIzbollah cells in South America will team up with Marxist groups like the Columbian FARRC and Neo Nazi groups to attack America. While this is not impossible it is grasping at straws and when he talks about these (Marxist) groups in some detail it gets off track of the books intended subject matter(Fundmetalist Militant Islam).
    Rating: 1 / 5


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