Enemies Within: Inside the NYPD's Secret Spying Unit and bin Laden's Final Plot Against America

Enemies Within: Inside the NYPD's Secret Spying Unit and bin Laden's Final Plot Against America

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by Matt Apuzzo, Adam Goldman

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Two Pulitzer Prize-winning journalists take an unbridled look into one of the most sensitive post-9/11 national security investigations, a breathtaking race to avert a second devastating terrorist attack on American soil.

For Americans who wonder, “How safe are we?” Matt Apuzzo and Adam Goldman pull back the curtain to reveal the strengths and


Two Pulitzer Prize-winning journalists take an unbridled look into one of the most sensitive post-9/11 national security investigations, a breathtaking race to avert a second devastating terrorist attack on American soil.

For Americans who wonder, “How safe are we?” Matt Apuzzo and Adam Goldman pull back the curtain to reveal the strengths and weaknesses of our counterterrorism measures. Chillingly, their real-life domestic spy story—based on hundreds of previously unpublished New York Police Department internal memos and exclusive interviews with intelligence sources—indicates that many of those strategies aren’t even close to being useful, functional, or successful.

Six months after the 9/11 attacks, New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly initiated a straightforward, yet audacious, antiterrorist plan to be implemented in the Big Apple. The NYPD would dispatch a vast network of undercover officers and informants—known as “mosque crawlers” and “rakers”—into Muslim neighborhoods to eavesdrop on conversations in mosques and community centers. And yet their shady tactics proved to be fruitless.

Through the harrowing tick-tock narrative of forty-eight hours in 2009, the NYPD and the FBI track suspected terrorist Najibullah Zazi—the single greatest threat to US domestic security since 9/11—as he makes his way from Denver to New York to launch an attack. In telling their story, the authors provide readers an inside look at the complex and often contradictory state of counterterrorism and intelligence in America.

Enemies Within answers the tough questions about the effectiveness of the measures we take to protect ourselves from real and false threats. Its shocking details about the tactics and activities of the NYPD will be headline news and reveal what it really takes to hunt down terrorists in America.

Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
Pulitzer Prize–winning AP journalists Apuzzo and Goldman reveal the details of the NYPD's post-9/11 counterterrorism intelligence unit amid the almost-undetected 2009 plot to bomb the subway system. To account for the systemic failure of government agencies to stop the Sept. 11 attacks and to ensure that all future terrorist plots would be snuffed out, the NYPD began an unprecedented intelligence-gathering campaign to bolster anti-terrorism security. The newly formed Intelligence Division was unlike any municipal law enforcement department in the nation. Headed by former CIA analyst David Cohen, with the support of Commissioner Ray Kelly, the I.D. began operating like an international spy unit rather than a division of the police department. Among the many controversial practices put into place by Cohen was the deliberate and methodical surveillance of Muslim neighborhoods throughout the city. The cops charged with collecting this information, known as "rakers," would draft reports of their surveillance on Muslim businesses, mosques and social clubs, however trivial, misleading or erroneous the information. The goal of the project was to identify areas of radicalization and pinpoint possible terrorists before they could act. However, despite the department's best efforts to map Muslim activities, three young New Yorkers began plotting the most significant attack on the city since 9/11. Najibullah Zazi, Adis Medunjanin and Zarein Ahmedzay were all naturalized American citizens, yet they, too, were seduced by jihad and even traveled to an al-Qaida training camp in Pakistan. While Apuzzo and Goldman show their veteran reportorial skills in exposing the details of the NYPD's surveillance program, they also expertly craft the drama of the unfolding terrorist plot and the race by government agencies to foil it. For all its fastidiousness, the efficacy of the I.D.'s methods has been hotly debated, and evidence presented by the authors suggests that there is no direct link between the data collected by the department and a reduction in terrorism. A fast-paced, informative investigation into the ever-messy arena of privacy versus security.
The Wall Street Journal
“Two tales tell us a great deal—not all of it flattering—about the ways in which law
enforcement has kept the city safe. . . . Assiduous reporting.”
The Economist
"A fascinating new book."
Associated Press Staff
“If you're a citizen, you need to read Enemies Within . . . . The authors have a story worthy of a thriller. The book is peopled with spies, terrorists and decorated war heroes. . . . Apuzzo and Goldman have sounded an alarm.”
The Atlantic Wire
"It is no stretch to say that the season's most anticipated book of investigative journalism is Enemies Within"
Frank Serpico
"The authors use their investigative know-how like skilled surgeons, utilizing their scalpel to expose a malignant growth in the heart of the NYPD."
Spencer Ackerman
"Apuzzo and Goldman are the new Woodward and Bernstein."
James Risen
"Two of America's best reporters pull back the curtain to reveal how New York really works. In the process, they also raise troubling questions about the price that America has paid, particularly in its moral standing, in prosecuting the war on terror. They ask the hardest question of them all. They ask Americans to look in the mirror."
Dana Priest
"Enemies Within combines the quick-paced storytelling of a mystery novel with the intellectual altitude of intelligence experts. It offers insights into the methods that work the best against would-be terrorists, as well as those that are not only a waste of money and time, but abuse the nature of our democracy. A great, informative read."
Justin Vogt
"Like too many stories about the post-9/11 fight against terrorism, this is a tale in which American boldness, cunning, and ingenuity are frequently undermined by American arrogance, recklessness, and narrow-mindedness. Apuzzo and Goldman’s revelatory investigation casts a troubling light on the NYPD and reverberates far beyond New York City, exposing the risks of waging an ill-defined 'war on terror.'"
Vicki Divoll
"Despite all the hype around NSA's secret Prism surveillance program, Apuzzo and Goldman show how the Zazi case really got made. This book is both a thriller and a hard-hitting expose of the NYPD Intel unit set up after 9/11. While the American people have shown some willingness to give up privacy for the hope of greater security, the reader can be the judge of whether the shocking excesses of this unit are justified by its results."
author of Manhunt: The Ten-Year Search for Bin Laden, from 9/11 to Abbottabad - Peter Bergen
"Enemies Within is a deeply reported and well written account of the NYPD's aggressive efforts to monitor the Muslim-American community and the most threatening al-Qaeda plot since 9/11—the plot to bomb the New York City subway system in 2009—a plot that NYPD's surveillance efforts did not detect."
Forbes - Dan Bigman
Matt Apuzzo and Adam Goldman chronicle how the quest for safety led to something far darker....Did the Snowden leaks trouble you? You ain't seen nothing yet.
National Journal
“A deep, jaw-dropping dive . . . No book better sums up the state of post-9/11 fear.”
Library Journal
Investigative reporters for the Associated Press in Washington, DC, Apuzzo and Goldman shared the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting for their series on the New York Police Department's clandestine spying on American Muslims. Here they expand on their reporting to give us a better understanding of what America's counterterrorist efforts have and haven't accomplished. With a 100,000-copy first printing.

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Read an Excerpt

Enemies Within


    Sunday, September 6, 2009

    The bomber handled the chemicals carefully, just as they’d taught him. No need to rush anything and blow off his hand, or worse. A few years earlier, a curious college student in Texas had tried the same thing in his kitchen. A 911 dispatcher listened to him die howling, begging for help as flames engulfed his body.

    Mix hydrogen peroxide and acetone, and nothing happens. The chemicals swirl around next to each other. In the presence of acid, though, they form the basis for a powerful explosion. The bomber’s acid of choice was muriatic acid, which he bought at a Lowe’s. Muriatic acid is used to treat swimming pools and clean concrete. But when it’s poured slowly into a mixture of hydrogen peroxide and acetone, clumps of white crystals appear. It looks like sugar, but it is as explosive as it is unstable.

    The bomber used the Homestead Studio Suites kitchenette as his lab. He’d tried working in his aunt’s garage, but when she saw all the chemicals, she and her husband got suspicious and made him pour them down the drain. Nobody would bother him here. Unable to pay their rent, many residents had recently been kicked out of their apartments. Cats slept in windows. Children played in the parking lot alongside cars packed with furniture and clothes.

    Forty dollars cash for a night in room 207. The bedspread was rough, and only the whir of the refrigerator drowned out the pulse of the highway. But he was not there to rest. He chose the motel because of its kitchen. It was a simple setup: builder-grade cabinets, a dingy white laminate countertop, and, most importantly, a stainless-steel, two-burner electric stove.

    He had everything he needed. For weeks he’d been visiting beauty supply stores, filling his carts with hydrogen peroxide and nail polish remover. At the Beauty Supply Warehouse, among the rows of wigs, braids, and extensions, the manager knew him as Jerry. He said his girlfriend owned hair salons. There was no reason to doubt him.

    On pharmacy shelves, in the little brown plastic bottles, hydrogen peroxide is a disinfectant, a sting-free way to clean scrapes. Beauty salons use a more concentrated version to bleach hair or activate hair dyes. At even higher concentrations, it burns the skin. It is not flammable on its own, but when it reacts with other chemicals, it quickly releases oxygen, creating an environment ripe for explosions. At its highest concentrations, hydrogen peroxide can be rocket fuel. Even with a cheap stove, it’s easy to simmer water out of hydrogen peroxide, leaving behind something more potent. It takes time, and he had plenty of that.

    He added the muriatic acid and watched as the chemicals crystallized. The crystals are known as triacetone triperoxide, or TATP. A spark, electrical current, even a bit of friction can set off an explosion. If there’s too much acid, or the balance of acetone and hydrogen peroxide isn’t quite right, the reaction will speed out of control and trigger a chemical blast.

    This was the moment when things often went wrong in basement laboratories, but he had done this before. A year earlier, he made his first batch under the watchful eye of his mentor. Then, a week ago, he made a practice sample in this same hotel. He took the finished product to an out-of-the-way spot, ignited it with a strand of Christmas tree lights and a battery, and watched it explode.

    The white crystal compound had been popular among Palestinian terrorists. It was cheap and powerful, but its instability earned it the nickname “Mother of Satan.” Once, an amateur bomb maker in the Mojave Desert had walked under a stretch of power lines. The electrical charge in the air was enough to detonate his TATP blasting caps and send paramedics rushing to his aid. Now most professional terrorists preferred to use it in only the smallest of quantities as the detonator for a bigger bomb. Even the average suicide bomber didn’t want to carry around large amounts.

    The volatile reaction was precisely the reason that all but the tiniest containers of liquids were banned on airplanes. A terrorist who boarded with a large shampoo bottle full of the right chemicals could conceivably create TATP in midair. It was unlikely, but the US government concluded that it was too risky to chance. One tablespoon of crystals was enough to blow through a cinder block. One cup could rip open the hull of an airplane.

    The young bomber wanted to cook up two pounds.

    When he was done mixing, he rinsed the crystals with baking soda and water to make his creation more stable. He placed the finished product in a wide-rimmed glass jar about the size of a coffee tin and inspected his work. There would be enough for three detonators. Three detonators inside three backpacks filled with a flammable mixture and ball bearings—the same type of weapon that left 52 dead in London in 2005.

    There was more work to be done. He had to finish the main charge, a mixture of flour and cooking oil. Concealed in a backpack and ignited by the TATP, these household ingredients would create a massive dust explosion and fireball. That could come later. The hardest part was complete.

    He was ready for New York.

  • Meet the Author

    Matt Apuzzo and Adam Goldman are investigative reporters for the Associated Press in Washington, D.C. They shared in the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting for a series on the New York Police Department's clandestine spying program targeting American Muslims. Together, Apuzzo and Goldman have uncovered the location of a CIA prison, revealed widespread cheating on FBI exams, and showed how the CIA's haphazard disciplinary system resulted in promotions for officers who kidnapped and killed the wrong people. They have shared the Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting, a George Polk Award, the Paul Tobenkin Memorial Award, and the Edgar A. Poe Award from the White House Correspondents’ Association. Apuzzo has covered organized crime, corruption, and law enforcement in Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Washington. Goldman has covered crime and government for newspapers in Virginia and Alabama. He reported from Las Vegas and New York for the AP.

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    Enemies Within: Inside the NYPD's Secret Spying Unit and bin Laden's Final Plot Against America 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
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