Brotherhood of Warriors: Behind Enemy Lines with a Commando in One of the World's Most Elite Counterterrorism Units

Brotherhood of Warriors: Behind Enemy Lines with a Commando in One of the World's Most Elite Counterterrorism Units

by Aaron Cohen, Douglas Century


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At the age of eighteen, Aaron Cohen left Beverly Hills to prove himself in the crucible of the armed forces. He was determined to be a part of Israel's most elite security cadre, akin to the American Green Berets and Navy SEALs. After fifteen months of grueling training designed to break down each individual man and to rebuild him as a warrior, Cohen was offered the only post a non-Israeli can hold in the special forces. In 1996 he joined a top-secret, highly controversial unit that dispatches operatives disguised as Arabs into the Palestinian-controlled West Bank to abduct terrorist leaders and bring them to Israel for interrogation and trial.

Between 1996 and 1998, Aaron Cohen would learn Hebrew and Arabic; become an expert in urban counterterror warfare, the martial art of Krav Maga, and undercover operations; and participate in dozens of life-or-death missions. He would infiltrate a Hamas wedding to seize a wanted terrorist and pose as an American journalist to set a trap for one of the financiers behind the Dizengoff Massacre, taking him down in a brutal, hand-to-hand struggle. A propulsive, gripping read, Cohen's story is a rare, fly-on-the-wall view into the shadowy world of "black ops" that redefines invincible strength, true danger, and inviolable security.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780061236150
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 04/29/2008
Pages: 288
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.06(d)

About the Author

A writer and television producer, Aaron Cohen has won fourteen Emmy Awards and a Peabody Award for his work at NBC and HBO, and has twice received the Dick Schaap Award for Outstanding Writing for his work on the critically acclaimed boxing documentary series 24/7.

Douglas Century is the author or coauthor of such bestsellers as Under and Alone, Barney Ross, Street Kingdom, Brotherhood of Warriors and Takedown: The Fall of the Last Mafia Empire, a finalist for the 2003 Edgar Award in the category of Best Nonfiction Crime.

Read an Excerpt

Brotherhood of Warriors
Behind Enemy Lines with a Commando in One of the World's Most Elite Counterterrorism Units

Chapter One

It began almost immediately after 9/11. My office in Beverly Hills was deluged with calls. Everyone, it seemed, from cable news producers to U.S. government officials, wanted the inside scoop on Israeli security methods. Could Israel's counterterrorism experts have prevented the hijackings? How do they profile potential suicide bombers? Train counterterrorist operatives? Rescue hostages?

On September 11, I was up before dawn—old military habits being impossible to break—and watched the attacks unfolding live on TV. My God, I said to myself. It's finally happening here. It had just been a matter of time before America was dragged into the jihad that Israel has been fighting for decades. One of the reasons that I returned to Los Angeles in 2000, after completing my three-year ser vice in the Israel Defense Forces, was to pass on the cutting-edge counterterrorism techniques and sophisticated training I'd acquired as a counterterrorist commando in Israel. I knew that the United States was far too vulnerable to Islamic terrorist attacks and hoped I could do my part to sound the alarm before it was too late.

Ironically enough, though I've long considered Los Angeles my home, I wasn't even born in the United States, but in Montreal, Quebec, on February 28, 1976. My parents were part of the large English-speaking Jewish community that was soon to disperse to Toronto and other Canadian cities with the election of the Parti Québécois, which vowed to pursue "sovereignty" and separationfrom anglophone Canada.

My parents separated when I was small. I was constantly moving, never living in the same house for more than two years at a time. I spent the first decade of my life bouncing between homes in Montreal, Miami, and Los Angeles.

My mother's family was prominent in the Montreal Jewish community, my maternal grandfather having built up his trucking business into one of the largest in Canada. By the time my parents separated, my mother had developed a desire to leave Canada behind and pursue a career in the entertainment industry. In fact, she had already begun a fledgling career as a screenwriter and producer while still in Montreal. But she wanted a shot at the big league—success American style—and decided to relocate us to south Florida, where I had an aunt and uncle. My mother brought my sister and me down there temporarily, establishing a U.S. residency, until the divorce from my father was final. We lived together in Miami until I was about eight, at which point my mother decided to move again, this time to Beverly Hills. She told me offhandedly one day as she was dropping me off at elementary school that she simply couldn't take me with her to California. I would be staying behind to live alone with my aunt in south Florida. She needed to get her own life settled and would be taking my sister. Of course, I felt abandoned, but I did my best not to show any sense of hurt or frustration. I lived with my aunt and went to school on my own for the next year and pretty much stayed out of trouble.

Slowly, my mother's show-business career was taking off; by working hard and networking constantly, my mother was actually getting TV writing and producing gigs in Hollywood. It was while working on a film project in the late 1980s that she met the man with whom she would fall in love: Abby Mann, an older writer and producer who had won the 1961 Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay for the classic Judgment at Nuremberg. When they married in a small, private ceremony in L.A., he became my stepfather, taking my sister and me into his Beverly Hills home and raising us as his own children.

Los Angeles came as a shock. I'd seen the lavish lifestyle in movies and TV shows, but nothing could prepare me for the reality. Suddenly, my sister and I were walking into my stepfather's world, where brushing up against the biggest stars in the business was as commonplace as waving hello to the mailman. That first week in Beverly Hills, for example, Tony Bennett came over to the house; I spent an hour with his chauffeur riding around in our huge semicircular driveway in the first stretch limousine I'd ever set foot inside. Over the years, Frank Sinatra—and his various wives—would drop in for coffee and a chat. So would what was left of the Rat Pack: Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., and old-time musicians like Buddy Rich. I quickly got a crash course in celebrity, learning that you had to put on an air of nonchalance, never seeming starstruck, even when you saw people like Warren Beatty, Steven Spielberg, Nicole Kidman, or Tom Cruise sitting in your living room talking over a script with your stepfather.

The money, especially the spending habits of the kids my age, was another matter entirely. I don't care how upper-middle-class you are by the standards of most places, the affluence of Beverly Hills is off the scale. Suddenly, I was surrounded by millionaires' kids, eight-year-olds growing up in palm-shaded palaces in the hills with Rolls-Royces in the driveway.

Life in Los Angeles wasn't such a big shock for my mother—her career was blossoming now, and she was making a name for herself as a film and television writer-producer. But to a kid my age, the adjustment was difficult, to say the least. It wasn't long before I started acting out in school—constantly being put on detention or called down to the principal's office for disrupting the class—and my mother acknowledged that the solution might be a more structured and traditional home environment. So while my sister stayed in Beverly Hills, I moved back in with my aunt's family in south Florida from ages eleven to twelve.

A year later, when the garage at their house in Beverly Hills was converted into a bedroom for me, I returned to Los Angeles, transferring to my fourth . . .

Brotherhood of Warriors
Behind Enemy Lines with a Commando in One of the World's Most Elite Counterterrorism Units
. Copyright © by Aaron Cohen. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

What People are Saying About This

Tommy Franks

“Aaron Cohen has something to say. And he knows what he’s talking about. If you’re conflicted about how aggressive America should be in the global fight against terrorism, read this book. Cohen knows that national survival ain’t free. A no-nonsense, riveting read.”

From the Publisher

"Drummond's performance is congruent with the story.... He especially shines when performing the many conversations as he ably brings out the appropriate emotions." —-AudioFile

Dale Brown

“It’s more than a story of the making of an elite unconventional warfare operative—it’s a real, in-your-face, and mesmerizing look at the birth of a patriot. You will be inspired, believe me.”

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Brotherhood of Warriors: Behind Enemy Lines with a Commando in One of the World's Most Elite Counterterrorism Units 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 23 reviews.
BRL More than 1 year ago
Some of the reviewers imply that Aaron Cohen makes himself out to be a "hollywood action hero". Not True. Its just that he, and other troops in elite units, sound like they are bragging when discussing what they have done and been through.

This is a very interesting look into the isralei counterterrorist units and the tactics they use. It also is a look into the psyche of someone who undergoes extreme training and takes the life of someone while in the line of duty. I commend Mr. Cohen for not sugar coating his reactions to the stress he was under. I also wish more of our law and policy makers would pay closer attention to the examples set by the Israel in how "homeland" security is done.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I love military stories, and this book is one of the best I've ever read! I found myself cheering for the brave Israeli soldiers, and I was awe inspired by their brilliant tactics, determination, and dedication. An inspiring book which I highly recommend!!
El-Ad_Eliovson More than 1 year ago
The author didn't research this book; he lived it. You learn how one becomes an elite army unit soldier, the pressure of such a soldier faces and about nail-biting, edge of your nerves missions. You learn what elite soldiers are up against in terms of the odds and dangers of their missions. The book provides much food for thought and plenty to talk about, especially given the situation in the Middle East today. It's not a Daniel Silva novel; it's a autobiography. As such one is tempted to say it isn't as polished as Silva's works, but it comes close~! :-) It flows and I read through it in about three days. It's an absorbing book and keeps you interested. One thing the author does very well is to bring his fellow soldiers and the other people in the book to life. You end up really relating and seeing clearly how everybody relates to each other. It is in a sense a book about a family of people, some dysfunctional, and conquering that situation as much as enemy targets. This is a good gift for people who are interested in fighting, army life, NRA members, martial artists, i.e., interested in combat/combat life/the art of war. It might also be a good read for a troubled teen, to demonstrate how to rise above and/or to meet life's challenges. The same goes for anyone who has lost their job or is going through a career crisis or a hard time in some way. Reading the end of the book and the author's successful re-discovery of the applicability of his skills in other venues and the new life he achieved as a result is inspirational. Altogether an enriching read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Aaron Cohen's ability to compare and constrast the life and values of Beverly Hills to his journey of self discovery working his way through one of Israel's elite special forces units' is extraordinary. His insights into the values and challenges of the defense of the State of Israel as well as what he has to say of the complacency and forced timidity of American security in the post 9/11 world is a worthy and valuable read.
Anonymous 11 months ago
Found very good reading. The people in the book come alive as you read it in your mind. Very insightful and instructional in what we need to consider to fight terrorism in our own country.
lynnm on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Fascinating look at what's involved in being a member of the Israeli Special Forces.
MatthewN on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I started reading this book on a flight lasting about 2 hours. Before I went to bed that night, I had finished the book. I don't normally finish a book in a day since I have small kids and other things that demand my time, but somehow I found the time to finish this one in a single day.Perhaps the most fascinating thing about the book was that you were given an inside look into the mindset of the Israeli military. I have read books about Israel and the wars they fought, but none of them gave you an up close and personal look at the daily life contained within the various units. It was a pretty interesting look into the mindset of the IDF. The author's unit had a unique mission in that they went undercover in the West Bank and performed surveillance, raids, arrests of militants, and other interesting tasks. In order to survive in this environment, their training was pretty violent. I particularly liked the portions of his training where they taught him how to get over the fear of getting hit. Having to fight his way to the front of a crowded bus, or the various sessions learning the Krav Maga fighting technique were just so interesting to me. I can't even begin to imagine the physical fighting proficiency each of these soldiers had after months and months of training.I wish there had been more time discussing the various missions within the West Bank, but I suspect there were plenty of things that could not be said without jeopardizing the security of his former unit. His time leading up to his enlistment in the IDF and the time after he was done is also included in the book. I didn't find either of those portions of the book anywhere near as interesting as the time between those two periods.
kmoellering on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Aaaron Cohen's memoir of his life in Israel's most elite counter terrorism unit is a fascinating read. On one level he writes about daily life in the army in Israel - combat exercises, firearm training, and the basics of grueling army life. On the other hand he writes about his life growing up in Beverly Hills, the son of producers who see him rarely and barely give him basic parental attention. It's easy to see what he found fascinating about the army - the strict regimented life was something that he surely craved. His story grows more poignant as he writes about his growing yearning to leave the army, his fall into stress, burnout and finally post-traumatic stress induced by his return to Beverly Hills. He clearly had no idea what to do with himself once he was a civilian again. I was interested to see how he emerged from the depression his civilian life caused - Cohen eventually started his own consulting company in the wake of 9/11 and he now coaches police and other US defense organizations in Israel's counter terrorism tactics. I thought this was a great story, a quick read and one that would capture the imagination of many readers easily!
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Gen_DR More than 1 year ago
Not many books are "edge of your chair action" and hard to put down. This is one of them...hands down. Extremely well written, Aaron unfolds the in depth map of his mission to become an Isreali Defense Forces Soldier. Not being boastful, but surprisingly honest, Cohen puts his feelings, failures, and massive mental troubles in with the extraodinary journey of blood, pain and rock hard nerves that was his life while an Isreali Special Forces Commando. He gives you a well rounded preview of the history behind the IDF and some insight into the highly misunderstood Isreal way of life/survival. You will be wanting more!
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Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is good for kids that are interested in the fake realm of heroism. it reminds a low budjet hollywood movie with 'I am the only hero that served in Spec ops that lived to tell you about it'... I still prefer the movies