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Riedel, senior fellow at the Brookings Institute and senior adviser on the Middle East to three past presidents, reviews how al-Qaeda has flourished since the September 11 attacks with "franchises" mushrooming around the world. The author surveys al-Qaeda's origins, workings and key members and introduces fresh information about the organization's ideology and future plans. Riedel warns against conflating the war against al-Qaeda with the current war in Iraq ("the president chose to declare war not on al Qaeda, but on 'terrorism,' a concept that he and Vice President Dick Cheney arrived at by confusing 9/11 with Saddam Hussein's Iraq") and demonstrates how U.S. actions compound "the public's ignorance and vulnerability." He argues that concentrating forces in Iraq has diverted attention and presence from Afghanistan and Pakistan, the hotbeds of jihadist organization, and suggests redirecting the military back to the "badlands" of the Afghan-Pakistan border while offering economic aid to forestall the extremism that thrives in destitute areas. Riedel's argument in favor of greater U.S. involvement in the Arab-Israeli peace process is persuasive, and his prescriptions are well-evidenced, unfailingly sound and refreshingly sensible. (Oct.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.