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The Secret History of al Qaeda / Edition 2

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Overview

Drawing on unparalleled access to Osama bin Laden and his key associates, journalist Abdel Bari Atwan gives an incisive and timely account, the clearest we have so far, of the rise of the notorious terrorist organization, al Qaeda.
In this lively narrative, the author establishes what al Qaeda is or has become, what it wants, what its capabilities are, and how the West can answer its complaints and challenges.

The only Western-based journalist to have spent time with Osama bin Laden, Atwan begins with an engrossing personal record of his 1996 trip to visit al Qaeda's founder and guide at his Tora Bora hideout. He takes an in-depth look at bin-Laden, presenting a nuanced portrait of the man and a description of his development as the prime exponent of jihad today. Atwan reveals how al Qaeda's radical departure from the classical terrorist/guerilla blueprint has enabled less adaptable efforts to neutralize it. The fanaticism of its fighters, and their willingness to kill and be killed, are matched by the leadership's opportunistic recruitment strategies and sophisticated understanding of psychology, media and new technology—including the use of the Internet for training, support and communications. Atwan's outspoken London-based newspaper al-Quds al-Arabi, of which he is Editor-in-Chief, has been the vehicle of choice for the release of many al Qaeda electronic communiqués.

The Secret History of al Qaeda reveals events in Iraq and Saudi Arabia as watershed moments in the organization's evolution that are making it more dangerous by the day. Atwan efficiently charts how the concept of jihad is being refined and appropriated, how a new kind of leader has been made possible by al Qaeda's horizontal chain of command, the making of the suicide bomber as a permanent feature of a global holy war, al Qaeda's economic strategy, and how the war in Iraq has transformed that country into a breeding ground for the most ruthless and militant al Qaeda fighters to date.

Copub: Saqi Books

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Editorial Reviews

Michael Scheuer
Here, Atwan's blend of memoir and journalism far outshines an academic's work.
— The Washington Post
Library Journal
In the last two years, quite a few books have been published about al Qaeda and its leader, Osama bin Laden. Most shed light on our understanding of how al Qaeda emerged as a potent threat to regimes world wide. What is distinctive about this particular book is that author Atwan met bin Laden in the caves of Tora Bora, Afghanistan, in 1996 and is intimately familiar with both the Muslim world and the West as the editor in chief of the London-based newspaper Al-Quds al-Arabi, which has been one of the main outlets for the release of al Qaeda communiques. Atwan objectively provides a detailed account of the organization's ideology, strategy, membership, and modus operandi, explaining al Qaeda's expert use of cyberspace to implement its goals. Among the interesting revelations is that there were several al Qaeda members, including Abu Mus'ab al-Zarqawi, the former leader of the so-called al Qaeda in Iraq, who opposed the 9/11 attacks as counterproductive and detrimental to the future of the organization. This is a readable and informative book on a subject about which much has been written but scant reliable information is available. Highly recommended for all public and academic libraries.-Nader Entessar, Univ. of South Alabama, Mobile Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780520255616
  • Publisher: University of California Press
  • Publication date: 2/4/2008
  • Edition description: Revised
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 328
  • Sales rank: 1,014,750
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.25 (h) x 0.63 (d)

Meet the Author

Abdel Bari Atwan, a Palestinian, has lived in London for thirty years and is Editor in Chief of Al-Quds al-Arabi.

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Table of Contents

Introduction : inside the lair : with bin Laden at Tora Bora 15
1 Osama bin Laden 39
2 Holy warrior 64
3 Human bombs and the concept of martyrdom 89
4 Cyber-Jihad 120
5 Al Qaeda in Saudi Arabia 150
6 Al Qaeda in Iraq 179
7 The future of al Qaeda 219
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