Rise of ISIS: Read an Excerpt

What was the name of that terrorist organization?

Al-Qaeda in Iraq, or AQI.

And after al-Qaeda rejected AQI because of tactics such as this, tactics so depraved and brutal that they even repulsed al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, what did AQI become?

The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.

It became ISIS.

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The sirens were some of the loudest noises I'd ever heard. They blasted apart the stillness of the day, assaulted my eardrums, and made me involuntarily duck.

I was in Israel in 2008, just outside of the Hamas-held Gaza Strip. As chief counsel of the American Center for Law and Justice, I was there (along with my son and coauthor of this book, Jordan) to meet with Israeli officials to discuss a response to utterly frivolous claims that Israel's acts of self-defense against Hamas constituted "war crimes."

To help us make our case, I wanted to see Gaza with my own eyes, to see what life was like in southern Israel under rocket fire.

I got more than I bargained for.

When the warning siren went off, I knew I was safe. I was in a command bunker, meeting with key Israeli leaders. But my immediate thought wasn't for my own safety; it was the same thought any father would have in the same circumstance.

"Where's Jordan?"

"Where's my son?"

He hadn't come down to the command bunker. Instead, he was outside, waiting, while I finished my meeting. From the moment the siren sounded until the moment the rocket hit, he had fourteen seconds to get to safety.

Those were the longest fourteen seconds of my life.

The rocket arced high into the air over Gaza. The Hamas rockets were less powerful back then, but the Iron Dome system that protects Israeli civilians today did not exist.

In other words, that rocket wasn't going to be shot down. It was going to land, somewhere close to us. Somewhere close to Jordan.

It hit seventy-five yards from my son. By the grace of God, the angle of the impact combined with the shape of the charge drove the blast away from Jordan. He was unharmed.

But for a few terrifying seconds, I lived the reality of Israeli fathers and mothers—someone was trying to kill my child.

Not just trying, but exerting maximum possible effort.

Hamas has sworn not just to destroy Israel, the world's only Jewish nation, but to kill Jews, to slaughter them. Its intentions mirror those of Hitler, even if its forces are not yet capable of the same kind of destruction.

That is life in southern Israel in the shadow of Hamas, a terrorist organization that digs tunnels with openings near homes and schools. The tunnels are designed to allow squads of terrorists to run out, kill, or capture sleeping families, and dash back to Gaza before even the most rapid-reacting and elite soldiers of the Israel Defense Forces can respond.

Hamas kidnaps and murders children, sends suicide bombers to restaurants, and summarily executes anyone it believes has ties to Israel.

Hamas hides its rockets and bombs in schools and mosques, builds tunnels under United Nations facilities, and often surrounds its fighters with children and other civilians, using them as human shields. It hopes that Israel will either refrain from firing on known terrorists or that, if Israel does fire, enough children will die for the world to express outrage against Israel. In other words, this organization launches rockets hoping to kill children, and when Israel responds, it does all it can to make sure that only Palestinian children die.

Either way, the goal is to kill the most innocent and vulnerable.

Hamas has sworn not just to destroy Israel, the world's only Jewish nation, but to kill Jews, to slaughter them. Its intentions mirror those of Hitler, even if its forces are not yet capable of the same kind of destruction.

It seeks arms from Iran (as Iran is busy building a nuclear bomb), it backs jihadists in Syria, and it is—bizarrely enough—cast as a heroic freedom fighter by millions of Europeans and even a distressing number of Americans.

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The goal of this book is simple: to understand the horrific jihadist threat to Christians and Jews in the Middle East, a threat that will undoubtedly come to the United States if it is left unchecked abroad. Through ISIS and Hamas, Christians and Jews face a wave of persecution and violence that is, quite simply, genocidal in scope and intent. But the situation — while grave — is not hopeless. Unlike in dark times before, America actually has strong allies on the ground, willing to take the fight to the jihadists. Even Israel isn't as alone as it has been, with Egypt proving to be even more helpful at times than the Obama administration. In other words, the means exist to stop genocide — if only we have the will to use them.

10/16/2014 4:00:00 AM