Hunting bin Laden: How al-Qaeda Is Winning the War on Terror


An in-depth look at why America is losing the War on Terror and what we should do if we really want to defeat Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda. "I first met al-Qaeda before there was an al-Qaeda, way back in the winter of 1984. It was an encounter that came within a split second of costing me my life." So begins Rob Schultheis's gripping account of his journey into the heart of one of the world's most dangerous places, on the trail of the world's most wanted man. A veteran war correspondent (he was one of a handful ...

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Hunting Bin Laden: How Al-Qaeda is Winning the War on Terror

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An in-depth look at why America is losing the War on Terror and what we should do if we really want to defeat Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda. "I first met al-Qaeda before there was an al-Qaeda, way back in the winter of 1984. It was an encounter that came within a split second of costing me my life." So begins Rob Schultheis's gripping account of his journey into the heart of one of the world's most dangerous places, on the trail of the world's most wanted man. A veteran war correspondent (he was one of a handful of Western journalists who covered the Russian war in Afghanistan from inside the country), Schultheis offers a first-hand look at how the seeds of al-Qaeda were planted by foreign jihadists in the 1980s, before most Americans knew what the word "jihad" meant. He then offers a radical assessment of why bin Laden remains at large, detailing the complicit role Pakistan has played in both offering him sanctuary and in helping al-Qaeda establish an almost impregnable stronghold in the Middle East. Finally, fresh from a recent visit to Afghanistan and armed with analysis of current satellite imagery, Schultheis makes his case for where exactly Osama bin Laden is hiding—and why the U.S. government is not acting on this information.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
An author and journalist who's covered Afghanistan for Time, CBS News and others for more than 20 years, Schultheis (Night Letters: Inside Wartime Afghanistan) offers a devastating critique of U.S. foreign policy blunders, including his opinion that members of Saudi Arabia's royal family and the Pakistani government were the real "powers behind 9/11." Schultheis provides a vivid account of his experiences on the front lines, which include the brutal Soviet occupation of Afghanistan and the pre-9/11 struggle "between moderate Moslems and the Taliban and al-Qaeda," illustrating his contention the World Trade Center attacks were "a sideshow" in the long civil war between a moderate, forward-thinking Moslem majority and a minority of fanatic fundamentalists (whose main targets are other Moslems). U.S. strategies, he says, "multiply the numbers of our enemies while doing little effective to counter the terrorist threat." Schultheis wrote Waging Peace after spending six months with a U.S. Army Civil Affairs team working with Iraqis to rebuild a Baghdad neighborhood; he believes this kind of program could "turn the country into a shining example of a strong, progressive Islamic state." This passionate and persuasive book is an eye-opening personal tour for both laymen and policy wonks.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Library Journal

The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have developed into long, drawn-out combat with no clear-cut end in sight. In this hard-hitting and engaging book, Schultheis (Night Letters: Inside Wartime Afghanistan), a veteran correspondent who has covered Afghanistan for over 20 years, contends that al-Qaeda is winning the "war on terror" and argues that the war the United States has been waging in Afghanistan and Iraq has helped al-Qaeda's global cause. The author identifies Pakistan's military intelligence service (ISI), Saudi Arabia's ruling class, and extremist Sunni groups as the real "Axis of Evil." He describes how various elements of the Saudi ruling family have helped the emergence of extremist Wahhabi movements that have targeted an assortment of groups, including Shi'a Muslims whom they view as heretics and deserving of the worst kinds of punishment. By focusing on the wrong culprits, such as Iran, the Bush administration has helped strengthen the Saudi-financed and -trained terrorists that have wreaked havoc in Afghanistan, Iraq, and elsewhere. This accessibly written book is highly recommended for all public libraries.
—Nader Entessar

Kirkus Reviews
A veteran correspondent of wartime Afghanistan explains how the United States has misconceived the fight against Islamic extremism. There is, indeed, a war on, Schultheis (Waging Peace: A Special Operations Team's Battle to Rebuild Iraq, 2005, etc.) argues, but it's a family fight, pitting a "fanatical minority" against the vast majority of pragmatic, progressive Muslims worldwide. Responding to attacks from terrorists who've hijacked Islam, both the Clinton and Bush administrations, he insists, have employed blunt instruments where scalpels are required and have "swell[ed] the ranks of potential terrorists with misguided policies, strategies and tactics" that fail to exploit this schism. The author is equally harsh on the media for offering only the most superficial explanation of what's really happening. Among the last Westerners to see the famous Buddhas of Bamyan before the Taliban destroyed them, Schultheis has for decades reported from the Middle East, especially Afghanistan, encountering "al-Qaeda before there was an al-Qaeda." To explain why we're losing the fight against al-Qaeda, he sets out a potted history of the Islamic faith and its schisms and supplies anecdotes from his rich experience covering the Mujahideen's fight against the Soviets, the rise of bin Laden, the Taliban's battle against the Northern Alliance and America's attack on the Taliban. He persuasively assigns the 9/11 catastrophe that arose out of Afghanistan to the Saudi rulers' funding of al-Qaeda and other extremist groups and to the military intelligence establishment of Pakistan. A reliable guide to events in Afghanistan and a good enough storyteller, Schultheis falters in the final chapters, rushingthrough a checklist of remedies-a more evenhanded foreign policy, more outreach to moderate Muslims, more resources poured into Afghanistan, etc.-and assuring us that these will "dry up nine-tenths of the pool of potential terrorists eager to attack us." It's the remaining tenth upon whom he urges unconventional, unrelenting war. An up-close, gritty look at the real face of jihad.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781602392441
  • Publisher: Skyhorse Publishing
  • Publication date: 6/23/2008
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 1,466,064
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Rob Schultheis, author of four previous books, including the acclaimed Night Letters: Inside Wartime Afghanistan, has been filing dispatches from Afghanistan for over twenty years. His screenplay credits include Seven Years in Tibet, and his articles have appeared in Time, The New York Times Magazine, The Washington Post, and Smithsonian. He lives in Telluride, Colorado.

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Table of Contents

9/11: The Earthquake That Never Was     1
Before There Was al-Qaeda, There Was al-Qaeda     9
The Devils' Teahouse     37
Encounters with a Warlord     57
Welcome to Paradise     67
Do You Remember Where You Were When Your Empire Fell?     93
Icebergs in the Fog     147
Our Own Worst Enemy     175
The Next 9/11     191
How to Lose/Win a War in Three Easy Stages     221
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