Management of Savagery

Management of Savagery: The Most Critical Stage Through Which the Islamic Nation Will Pass (Arabic: إدارة التوحش: أخطر مرحلة ستمر بها الأمة, Idārat at-Tawaḥḥuš: Akhṭar marḥalah satamurru bihā l 'ummah),[1] also translated as Administration of Savagery,[1] is a book by the Islamist strategist Abu Bakr Naji, published on the Internet in 2004. It aimed to provide a strategy for al-Qaeda and other extremists whereby they could create a new Islamic caliphate.[2]

The real identity of Abu Bakr Naji is claimed by the Al Arabiya Institute for Studies to be Muhammad Khalil al-Hakaymah.[3][4] His known works are this piece and some contributions to the al-Qaeda online magazine Sawt al-Jihad. National Public Radio has described Naji as a "top al-Qaida insider" and characterized the work as "al-Qaida's playbook".[5]


Management of Savagery discusses the need to create and manage nationalist and religious resentment and violence in order to create long-term propaganda opportunities for jihadist groups. Notably, Naji discusses the value of provoking military responses from superpowers in order to recruit and train guerilla fighters and to create martyrs. Naji suggests that a long-lasting strategy of attrition will reveal fundamental weaknesses in the ability of superpowers to defeat committed jihadists.[6]

Management of Savagery argues that carrying out a campaign of constant violent attacks (vexation operations) in Muslim states will eventually exhaust their ability and will to enforce their authority, and that as the writ of the state withers away, chaos—or "savagery"—will ensue.[2][6] Extreme violence is emphasized.

One who previously engaged in jihad knows that it is naught but violence, crudeness, terrorism, frightening [others] and massacring -- I am talking about jihad and fighting, not about Islam and one should not confuse them.[7]

Jihadists can take advantage of this savagery to win popular support, or at least acquiescence, by implementing security, providing social services, and imposing Sharia. As these territories increase, they can become the nucleus of a new caliphate.[2][6] Naji nominated Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, North Africa, Nigeria and Pakistan as potential targets, due to their geography, weak military presence in remote areas, existing jihadist presence, and easy accessibility of weapons.[8]

Naji professes to have been inspired by Ibn Taymiyya, the influential 14th-century Islamic scholar and theologian.[6]


The word in the title توحش tawaḥḥuš has been translated as "savagery" or "barbarism".[9] As it is a form V verbal noun derived from the root وحش waḥš "wild animal", it has also accordingly been translated "beastliness".[10]

In practice

A number of media outlets have compared the attempts by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant to establish territorial control in Iraq and Syria with the strategy outlined in Management of Savagery.[6][11][12][13] The first issue of the Islamic State's online magazine, Dabiq, contained discussion of guerrilla warfare and tactics that closely resembled the writings and terminology used in Management of Savagery, although the book was not mentioned directly.[14] Journalist Hassan Hassan, writing in The Guardian, reported an ISIL-affiliated cleric as saying that Management of Savagery is widely read among the group's commanders and some of its rank-and-file fighters. It was also mentioned by another member of ISIL in a list of books and ideologues that influence the group.[15]

Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula has been described by The Jamestown Foundation as following Naji's guidelines in Yemen,[1] while the book has been mentioned positively in interviews with members of Somalia's Al-Shabaab.[16]

Scholars Brian A. Jackson and Bryce Loidolt argue that Management of Savagery and Mustafa Setmariam Nasar's The Global Islamic Resistance Call led al-Qaeda to innovate and shift practices.[17]

See also


  1. 1 2 3 Ryan, Michael W. S. (28 January 2010). "Al-Qaeda's Purpose in Yemen Described in Works of Jihad Strategists". Terrorism Monitor. 8 (4): Jamestown Foundation. Retrieved 7 September 2014.
  2. 1 2 3 Wright, Lawrence (16 June 2014). "ISIS's Savage Strategy in Iraq". The New Yorker. Retrieved 1 September 2014.
  3. Nesira, Hani (16 May 2014). إدارة التوحش..والملاذات الآمنة للإرهاب من نظام الأسد إلى إمارة داعش!. Al Arabiya Institute for Studies (in Arabic).
  4. Nesira, Hani (6 July 2013). "From Agassi to Al Nusra..Assad experience in jihadi investment!". Al Arabiya Institute for Studies. Retrieved 15 September 2014.
  5. Sullivan, Laura (27 June 2006). "Al-Qaida's Playbook". NPR.
  6. 1 2 3 4 5 Wright, Lawrence (11 September 2006). "The Master Plan". The New Yorker. Retrieved 1 September 2014.
  7. Worth, Robert F. (2016). A Rage for Order: The Middle East in Turmoil, from Tahrir Square to ISIS. Farrar, Straus and Giroux. p. 174. ISBN 978-0-374-71071-2.
  8. al-Ibrahim, Fouad (22 August 2014). "Why ISIS is a threat to Saudi Arabia: Wahhabism's deferred promise". Al Akhbar. Lebanon. Archived from the original on 24 August 2014. Retrieved 1 September 2014.
  9. Ulph, Stephen (17 March 2005). "New Online Book Lays Out Al-Qaeda's Military Strategy". Terrorism Focus. 2 (6). Jamestown Foundation.
  10. Cole, Juan (28 March 2016). "Trump's and Islamic State's Gray Zones: Radicals' Terrorism Is Sign of Their Battlefield Losses". Truthdig. Retrieved 2017-02-22.
  11. McCoy, Terrence McCoy (12 August 2014). "The calculated madness of the Islamic State's horrifying brutality". The Washington Post. Retrieved 1 September 2014.
  12. Alastair, Crooke (30 June 2014). "The ISIS' 'Management of Savagery' in Iraq". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 1 September 2014.
  13. Ignatius, David (25 September 2014). "The 'Mein Kampf' of Jihad". The Washington Post. Retrieved 28 September 2014.
  14. Ryan, Michael W.S. (1 August 2014). "Dabiq: What Islamic State's New Magazine Tells Us about Their Strategic Direction, Recruitment Patterns and Guerrilla Doctrine". Hot Issues. Jamestown Foundation. Retrieved 27 October 2014.
  15. Hassan, Hassan (8 February 2015). "Isis has reached new depths of depravity. But there is a brutal logic behind it". The Guardian. Retrieved 10 February 2015.
  16. McCants, Will (30 April 2012). "Al Qaeda Is Doing Nation-Building. Should We Worry?". Foreign Policy. Retrieved 1 September 2014. (Subscription required (help)).
  17. Loidolt, Bryce; Jackson, Brian A. (2013). "Considering al-Qa'ida's Innovation Doctrine: From Strategic Texts to 'Innovation in Practice'". Terrorism and Political Violence. 25 (2): 284–310. doi:10.1080/09546553.2012.662557.
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