Paul Moorcraft is certainly a character that needs more than nine lives. Despite his many roles, he’s someone that doesn’t take himself too seriously. He is a visiting professor at Cardiff University’s School of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies, the Director of the Centre for Foreign Policy Analysis in London, Crisis Management Consultant for international companies, author of many controversial titles, has been a freelance TV war correspondent in over thirty war zones in Africa, the Middle East, Asia, and the Balkans, and finally, one of the few military experts who has actually lived and worked with Jihadists.
“Jihadism is a major threat to Britain and the West,” he said. “It is not a clear and present danger compared with the Nazis in World War Two, but over a generation or two Islamism could undermine our whole life in Europe.”
Paul Moorcraft’s timely and controversial publication; The Jihadist Threat, explores the international and domestic threats to the West from Jihadism. It begins with a brief trace into the origins and history of Jihadism from the time of the Prophet and then goes on to analyse the fall-out from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. It examines how these events have fuelled the rise of the Islamic State, as well as other terror groups, and what dangers they may pose to European society. Explaining simply the dangerous cycle of Jihadism since it first conquered much of Europe in the Middle Ages, this book proves itself to be an important read.
Considering himself more of the Danny deVito type, rather than the Special Forces ‘Rambos’ he works with, his life has definitely been put at risk more than once.
“In the summer of 1984 in Afghanistan, near Kabul, I experienced daily attacks during the Soviet offensive. Bullets, mortars, tank shells, sub-sonic and supersonic aircraft were dropping 1,000kg bombs and worst of all the Mi24s, the Hind flying tanks that the Russians deployed. When they dropped down on me and my Jihadist companions, there was not a lot you could do except try to hide and certainly entreaty God to help. Eventually, the Americans answered for God and provided Stingers so the Mi24s could be brought down.”
That wasn’t the only time. He tells of a second attack he faced on Mount Igman, near Sarajevo, Bosnia in 1994 when a depressed Serb anti-aircraft gun opened fire on a stranded bus full of women and children.
“Eventually I managed to get out and help my translators and two Bosnian females crawl on all fours through long grass and minefield to avoid further attacks from Serb forces with torches and AKs.”
Paul has held down many professional roles, and continues to busy himself in military issues.
“The best time of my life was working in Rhodesia in the 1970s as a teacher, journalist and policeman. It was a fabulous country despite the cruelties of war.”
He was able to interview Robert Mugabe for Time magazine in January 1980. Whilst being very impressed by him at the time, he found himself disappointed by Mugabe’s actions in becoming another “African dictator [that] totally wrecked a once-successful economy”.
He claims that above all, he found working for high-level PR in Whitehall the most exhausting position he has held, more so than being shot at, especially whilst working in the Ministry of Defence in the lead-up and immediate aftermath of the 2003 Gulf War.
“It is often harder to risk your pension and career than your life. I walked out of my office and never returned.”
But how does Paul Moorcraft relax in the midst of the danger, writing, saving the world and running a think-tank dedicated to conflict resolution?!
“I work most of the time, including weekends, and very rarely take holidays, but I do live next door to TWO pubs. I eat, drink and make merry with good friends.”
He doesn’t sit still for too long, mind. Despite his almost complete blindness, he is adamant that he will continue going to war zones and writing his books. Having just returned to Khartoum, where he lectured and promoted the paperback version of his book on Africa’s longest war, he has also been asked to visit a central African country to help its president survive an election. And if that’s not enough, this master-of-schedules has also just produced a film on the dictatorship in the Maldives.
“When I get back to my tiny riverside cottage in the Surrey Hills, I can then relax and drink to celebrate surviving another dangerous adventure.”