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The Cell: Inside the 9/11 Plot, and Why the FBI and CIA Failed to Stop It

The Cell: Inside the 9/11 Plot, and Why the FBI and CIA Failed to Stop It

4.5 19
by John C. Miller

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In The Cell, John Miller, an award-winning journalist and coanchor of ABC's 20/20, along with veteran reporter Michael Stone and Chris Mitchell, takes readers back more than 10 years to the birth of the terrorist cell that later metastasized into al Qaeda's New York operation. This remarkable book offers a firsthand account of what it is to be a


In The Cell, John Miller, an award-winning journalist and coanchor of ABC's 20/20, along with veteran reporter Michael Stone and Chris Mitchell, takes readers back more than 10 years to the birth of the terrorist cell that later metastasized into al Qaeda's New York operation. This remarkable book offers a firsthand account of what it is to be a police officer, an FBI agent or a reporter obsessed with a case few people will take seriously. It contains a first-person account of Miller's face-to-face meeting with bin Laden and provides the first full-length treatment to piece together what led up to the events of 9/11, ultimately delivering the disturbing answer to the question: Why, with all the information the intelligence community had, was no one able to stop the 9/11 attacks?

Editorial Reviews

ABC News journalist John Miller has been tracking the story of international terrorism ever since he covered the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center. In 1998, he became the first American journalist to interview terrorist leader Osama bin Laden. Now Miller, with veteran journalist Michael Stone -- and the cooperation of several intelligence officials -- uncovers the covert forces that triggered the horrific events of September 11th.
Boston Globe
A riveting, frightening, and illuminating book.
USA Today
It asks the tough questions.
New York Times Book Review
[The authors] bring high credibiltiy to this streetwise, gritty police procedural . . . an important addition to the growing literature . . .
Washington Post Book World
[Has] the feel of a true crime documentary.
When the horror of September 11th was still fresh, nearly everyone craved for a basic and simple explanation of why the unthinkable had suddenly happened to the nation; a book or some sort of thoughtful article that would make everything clear. This book might not do that, but at least it illuminates the chaotic nature of the root situation, and the anarchic mindset that it spawned. Like all conspiracy books, this one presents an impressive scenario, full of revelations, finger pointing, and "what-ifs?" The tale begins ten years ago when one of the authors investigated a small, semi-disorganized Arab hate group. As time went on and events in the Middle East began to boil over, this group; this cell; eventually ended up morphing into Osama bin Laden's New York organization. The authors; professional journalists all; patch together numerous stories, names, anecdotes, and historical vignettes to create an exciting and fast-moving tale of deception and discovery. One of the book's highlights is the account of a clandestine interview that an author had with Osama bin Laden himself. Talking in a small cave in Afghanistan, the terrorist reveals that the Arab world lost all fear of the U.S. after its hasty withdrawal from Somalia. The book's strengths are also its weaknesses. As exciting and convincing as the narrative is, it seems to be a little too much so. The authors know how to ferret out facts and trace people down, but none has any sort of official connection with any police or government agency. Following the new "literary nonfiction" style of writing, they re-create lengthy conversations of years ago, and the inner thoughts and emotions of important characters are freely presented as ifin a screenplay. Surely this book is the first among a long line of titles that will be published on the subject in years to come. It is a good one for the interested reader to begin with, and it will be interesting to see what influence it will have. KLIATT Codes: SA;Recommended for senior high school students, advanced students, and adults. 2002, Hyperion, 370p. notes. index., Puffer
Library Journal
9/11 The accusatory books about how the September 11 attacks could have been prevented are being published at a pace not seen since the assassination of JFK. These three reporters combine their considerable expertise and offer a better insight than most, owing to their familiarity with Islamic terrorist groups and Miller's incredible face-to-face interview with Osama bin Laden. They do well in laying the foundation for placing the blame on FBI and CIA officials, going back as far as the PanAm accident in Lockerbie, Scotland, and up to the attack on the U.S.S. Cole in Yemen Harbor. Unfortunately, listening to their account of the myriad leads to who was actually behind the various attacks is often confusing. Perhaps the unabridged version would do a better job of separating the various players with similar sounding names. That aside, the authors do manage to pinpoint moments in time when events might have been different if agencies cooperated, the departments of State and Defense were not always at odds, and the age-old practice of self-preservation were not so prevalent in the U.S. government. Read by Miller, this highly intelligent and challenging book sheds light on what culminated in the worst terrorist attack in history. Recommended for all public library and military collections.-Joseph L. Carlson, Lompoc P.L., CA Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.

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Hachette Books
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Hachette Digital, Inc.
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563 KB
Age Range:
13 - 18 Years

Meet the Author

John Miller is an Emmy Award-winning broadcast journalist, co-host of ABC's 20/20 with Barbara Walters, and one of the few Western reporters ever to have interviewed Osama bin Laden. He lives in New York City. This is his first book.

Michael Stone is a veteran journalist who has covered many of New York's most notorious stories, including John Gotti, Robert Chambers and the Central Park jogger assault, and is the author of Gangbusters. He lives in New York City.

Chris Mitchell is a senior editor at The Week. His previous collaboration, Jack Maple's The Crime Fighter, inspired the television drama The District.

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The Cell: Inside The 9/11 Plot, And Why The Fbi And Cia Failed To Stop It 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 19 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
John Miller did an outstanding job making this book readable, to use his words. He engages you with all the activities of the al Qaeda that are going on throughout the world. I clearly know I could read this book again and would pick up facts that I missed the first time around. The author has that much information in this book. John Miller also does not "bash" the different agencies when the lines of communication were not the best, but, it is absolutely clear that these agenicies and the people in them need to be a little sharper on the job and not work under the pretense that knowledge should not be shared. This book will clearly make its readers jump to attention, and know that 9/11 can happen again if we do not stay focused. John Miller writes in a friendly and concise style. A definitely worthy read. I leraned so much and frankly found it all alarming.
reason1984 More than 1 year ago
This is what happens when politicians promote/appoint the incompetent to positions they are completely incapable of administering. The CIA was created specifically to prevent another Pearl Harbor...oh well. Tha NSA and the DIA also share in this catastrophic failure to heed the warnings. The real threat to our society is the political correctness that paralyzes and confuses the careerists who are more interested in covering their a** than actually protecting our country. I also recommend "Imperial Hubris" by Michael Scheuer. Do not read this book if you are depressed.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I had to read a polital science book for a CAPP government class. I found the book extremely imformative about the events leading to 9/11 and the terrorists involved with many of those events.

I recomend the book to others who are looking for an in depth book on terrorism and events leading up to and including the attacks on 9/11. It gives and informative perspective on terrorist, reporters, agents and civilians invovled.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is not only well written, it is the most informative book in regards to the events that contributed to 9/11. Because 3 different writers contributed to it, from their personal experiences, it is refreshingly open and honest. You will not want to put the book down.
Guest More than 1 year ago
In terms of following the history of al Qaeda and the development of Osama bin Laden in particular, this was a good book. However, the book did not cover it's central thesis (the 9/11 plot and the FBI and CIA failure to prevent it) well at all. I had read a significant portion of the book before the 9/11 plot was mentioned. I was disappointed that the subtitle's suggestion that the book was about the plot itself, and the CIA/FBI's inability to stop it, was so poorly developed. I would recommend this book to someone who is interested in learning more about the development of al Qaeda than for someone who is looking for specific information on the 9/11 plot. That being said, it is well written as a history of al Qaeda culminating in the 9/11 attacks and does eventually provide some details on the people and events of 9/11.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Excellent work in compiling detailed information about all the key players/events that led to 9/11. The book effectively parallels the development of Al-Queda (first time I heard or thought about the Kahane assassin connection)with the various US law enforcement agencies that tried to counter attempts, but could not gain either enough political clout or collaboration /coordination among themselves. Seems to be quite an irony that John O'Neill had only been employed at the WTC for two days. Perhaps,it is worth investigating - book number 2?
Guest More than 1 year ago
The message I continously got from this book is the opportunities we in fact had to thwart this specific terrorist group. What is appalling is the inaction described in these pages, read this book and you will think twice about the agencies in charge of our security. I'm sure it has been changed forever...I hope.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The Cell is a must read for every American that witnessed the terrible acts of 9/11. This book blows the lid off the secret world of bin Ladin's Al Qaeda network and gives nearly blow by blow accounts of the operations that the group carried out from the 1980's to present day.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The Cell delivers a blow-by-blow account of all the events leading up to 9/11. It's written with incredible detail that one almost has to stop reading to absorb the magnitude of it all. And it contains a sense of humor about certain events (like Miller blowing out two tires trying to get to a mobile unit to broadcast a story) but also contains chilling episodes of the terrorists' plans and the morning of September 11th, all conveying a realism about the authors and the people directly involved. Well done, gentlemen.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Certainly a fairly well researched review of what some knew, thought and did to avoid the catastrophe of 9/11. Completely ignored is the true reason for the so-called intelligence failures - the political restrictions put on intelligence and law enforcement agencies. The analysts and operatives who were truly experts in the field were ignored while politically correct reports were used to focus efforts in areas for political payoffs. The blame lies at our politician's feet, not the marginalized true experts.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Despite reading everything I can on Al Queda, I was not able to piece together the history of its terrorist war against the U.S. until I read John Miller's 'The Cell'. While quite detailed in its treatment of militant Islamic terror's history on on U.S. soil, the book is so well organized and written that I was able to read it in two sittings over the weekend. A 'must read'.
Guest More than 1 year ago
John Miller is right on target and seems to have better insight than our own government. Why doesn't the U.S. Gov't hire him as its own consultant. We need his brain power to help guide us through these difficult times. 'The Cell' is a must for all of us to read. Tonight's 20-20 piece crystallized John's brilliance and insight into how to land on foreign soil and get the real story.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I've heard so much about this book that there is no way I will miss buying and reading this book. John Miller's interview with Osama Bin Laden in 1998 is reason enough for reading this book. His interview with the world's most dangerous man was one of the best interviews I've ever seen. John J. Miller is an exceptional reporter as well as I will suspect a great writer.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book offers a fascinating view into the how's and why's of the 9/11 attack on the US. Shockingly, it seems that if all systems had been running as they should have been, the US could have prevented this tragic event. The authors tell an exceedingly complicated story with clarity and articulation. Nice work.
harstan More than 1 year ago
Up front let me apologize for being emotional in this review, as this true account is appalling in what should have been. The book describes the evolution of the 1990s through 9/11 of Bin Laden and the Al Queda that will haunt readers forever. The authors tie events together that show the magnitude of the failure of anti-terrorism efforts under three administrations including the present one. The authors claim several opportunities to stop the terrorists were available, but not acted on, as the threat had not incredulously surpassed the 'acceptable level of terrorism'. That is the frightening thought that especially Clinton and Bush II (even in his first year) could have done more and saved lives. Official inactivity and incompetence (the Attorney General cut the anti-terrorism funding) and missed opportunities led to irate agents unable to overcome politics as usual under presidents from both political parties.

This book is not for those still raw, as it is quite an eye-opening saga. As the country¿s powers debate homeland security and claim the high ground, they should read this book first so they cannot sleep better at night. While the President vacations; the Attorney General cries security wolf; the Congress posters to gain reelection; and Clinton rewrites his place in history, perhaps each will finally understand the real goal: no future American should suffer like those who seemed to have died for no reason except politics and incompetence.

Harriet Klausner

Guest More than 1 year ago
I've got to read this book. Inside account of history, why it happened, what lead up to it, and what we are doing to prevent it from happening again.
Guest More than 1 year ago
No INDEX. A total absence of a Bibliography. No NOTES. What makes anything in this book credible? I suppose if one reads it as a series of newspaper articles, which are totally without searchable references, it is acceptable but as a book to be taken as factual, I am amazed that an editor would admit association with this type of literature.