The Third Target (J. B. Collins Series #1)

The Third Target (J. B. Collins Series #1)

by Joel C. Rosenberg


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The Third Target (J. B. Collins Series #1) by Joel C. Rosenberg

2016 Christian Book Award finalist (Fiction category)
When New York Times foreign correspondent J. B. Collins hears rumors that an al-Qaeda splinter cell—ISIS—has captured a cache of chemical weapons inside Syria, he knows this is a story he must pursue at all costs. Does the commander of the jihadist faction really have weapons of mass destruction? If so, who is the intended target? The U.S.? Israel? Or someone else? With tensions already high, the impending visit of the American president to the region could prove to be the spark that sets off an explosion of horrendous proportions. Knowing that terrorist forces are already trying to bring down two Arab governments in the region—Iraq and Syria—can Collins uncover the truth before it’s too late? Or will the terrorists succeed in setting their sights on the third target and achieving genocide?

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781496423276
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers
Publication date: 10/03/2017
Series: J. B. Collins Series , #1
Pages: 560
Sales rank: 628,436
Product dimensions: 4.00(w) x 7.40(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Joel C. Rosenberg is a New York Times bestselling author with more than three million copies sold among his ten novels (including The Last Jihad, Damascus Countdown, and The Auschwitz Escape), four nonfiction books (including Epicenter and Inside the Revolution), and a digital short (Israel at War). A front-page Sunday New York Times profile called him a “force in the capital.” He has also been profiled by the Washington Times and the Jerusalem Post and has been interviewed on ABC’s Nightline, CNN Headline News, FOX News Channel, The History Channel, MSNBC, The Rush Limbaugh Show, and The Sean Hannity Show. You can follow him at or on Twitter @joelcrosenberg.

Read an Excerpt

The Third Target

By Joel C. Rosenberg

Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2015 Joel C. Rosenberg
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4143-3627-5



I had done a lot of crazy things in my life, but nothing as stupid as this.

As I stared out over the roiling waves and countless whitecaps of the Mediterranean below, I couldn't help but think about my grandfather. A. B. Collins was once the Beirut bureau chief for the Associated Press. Long before I was born, he flew this exact route as an American foreign correspondent in the war-torn Middle East. His career was legendary. As a young boy I dreamed of following in his footsteps. As a teenager, I read all his journals. In college I spent hours in the library reading his old dispatches on microfiche. Now here I was, a foreign correspondent for the New York Times, wondering if, given all the risks my grandfather had taken, he'd ever done anything quite this foolhardy.

There was still a way out, of course. I could still change my plans. But the truth was I didn't want to. I may never have interviewed a king or witnessed the assassination of a monarch. But I was just as committed to my craft, and I was going in, come what may. That's all there was to it. In six minutes, my Air France flight would touch down in the Lebanese capital. In nineteen minutes, I'd link up with my colleagues. Together we'd drive ninety miles to the border of Syria. And if all went well, by nightfall we'd slip across the border unnoticed and eventually locate one of the world's most feared jihadi commanders.

Jack Vaughn, director of the Central Intelligence Agency, had personally warned me not to do this. So had the head of the Mossad and the chief of Jordanian intelligence, not to mention my mother. My editor, Allen MacDonald, had expressly forbidden me to go. Their rationale was as simple as it was compelling: Jamal Ramzy was a killer.

Born in Jordan. Raised in the Gulf. Went to Afghanistan. Joined the mujahideen. Killed more Russians than any other Arab fighter. Met bin Laden. Became his chief bodyguard. Was in the room when bin Laden created al Qaeda in 1988. Sent to fight in Somalia. Became a top aide to Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks. Personally trained the 9/11 hijackers. Helped plan the bombings of two American embassies in Africa. Helped behead a Wall Street Journal reporter in Pakistan. Became a top aide to Ayman al-Zawahiri, the head of al Qaeda after bin Laden was killed, but had a severe falling-out with him over the future of the organization. Teamed up with his barbaric younger cousin Abu Khalif, the head of "al Qaeda in Iraq and the Levant," an ultra-violent breakaway faction of the mother ship. Sent to command a force of rebel fighters in Syria. Ordered to bring back Assad's head on a platter. Literally.

This was the guy I was trying to locate. I knew it was crazy. But I was going anyway.

To my knowledge, Jamal Ramzy had never been photographed or interviewed by a Western reporter. But after nearly a year of my constant e-mails to someone I believed to be Ramzy's lieutenant, he had finally said yes—to the interview, anyway, if not the photograph. If I was communicating with the right person, and if he was being truthful—neither of which, at the moment, I was able to fully verify—the big questions were these: Why would Ramzy talk to anyone? Why now? And why me?

The answers, I believed, were simple: He wanted to be on the front page, top of the fold. He wanted to be the new face of the Radicals for all the world to see. And he knew full well that there was no bigger venue than the New York Times, the world's newspaper of record, for which I had been a foreign correspondent for nearly a decade.

As far as timing went, my operating theory was that it was not vanity that was persuading Ramzy to finally respond to my repeated overtures. After all, the Jordanian-born terrorist had lived in the shadows for decades. He had survived all this time by living off the grid, and I suspect he would have been content to remain there if possible rather than risk being obliterated without warning one day by a drone strike, like most of his comrades-in-arms. No, it was unlikely that vanity was driving Ramzy. Rather, I was fairly certain he had something to say at this moment, something he had never said before, and that he was planning on using me to say it.

For the past several weeks, I had been picking up rumors that Ramzy and his rebel forces had captured a cache of chemical weapons in Syria. The Assad regime had supposedly allowed international forces to destroy its remaining weapons of mass destruction, but it was widely believed that at least some stockpiles had been hidden. Now one well-placed American intelligence source told me his agency had picked up frantic radio traffic three weeks earlier between Syrian army forces loyal to Assad saying one of their WMD storage facilities not far from Aleppo had just been overrun. The Syrian forces were desperately calling for air strikes, but while the air support had come, it was too late. Quite separately, another source, this one in a foreign intelligence service, confided to me that a high-ranking Syrian general had just defected to either Turkey or Jordan (he wouldn't say which) and claimed some al Qaeda breakaway faction had seized several tons of chemical weapons south of Aleppo within the last few weeks.

Was it true? I had no idea. All I knew for certain was that nothing of the sort had yet been reported in the Arab press or anywhere in the West. No one at the White House, State, or the Pentagon would confirm or deny my discreet inquiries. Part of this, I suspected, was to prevent the widespread panic that was sure to break out if it became known that one of the world's most dangerous terrorist organizations now had control of some of the world's most dangerous weapons.

Of course, I hadn't raised any of this in my e-mails to my source in Syria. I'd simply repeated my long-standing requests for an interview. But I was increasingly certain this was why Ramzy wanted to talk now, when he had never talked publicly before. He wanted the world to know what he had. He wanted the American people and their president to know. What's more, I had to believe he savored the irony of Ayman al-Zawahiri hearing through an American newspaper that one of his former advisors had hit the mother lode—that an al Qaeda offshoot finally had possession of the very weapons al Qaeda itself had been desperately seeking for nearly two decades.

I hoped I was right. Not that Ramzy had the WMD, mind you, but that he had a story—an important story—he wanted to communicate through me. It was, I suspected, my only hope of survival. After all, this was a man who cut people's throats for sport, Americans' most of all. Only if he really did want to use me to communicate a big story would my colleagues and I be safe.

It was no wonder no one I knew wanted me to head into Syria to track this man down and speak with him face to face. Even the colleagues I was about to meet were deeply uncomfortable. I certainly understood why. And I didn't blame them. What we were about to do wasn't normal. But I—and they—were part of "the tribe," part of an elite group, a small cadre of foreign correspondents whose lives were devoted to covering wars and rumors of war, revolutions, chaos, and bloodshed of all kinds. It's what I'd gone to school for, nearly twenty years earlier. It's what I'd been doing for the New York Daily News and the Associated Press and the Times ever since. I loved it. I lived for it.

Some said it was an addiction. They said people like me were adrenaline junkies. Maybe I was. But that's not the way I thought of it. To me, risk was part of my job, and it was a job my colleagues told me I wasn't half-bad at. I had won an award for covering a Delta Force firefight in Kandahar, Afghanistan, with another Times reporter in 2001. And I had even won a Pulitzer for a series of articles I wrote in 2003 when I was embedded with the First Brigade of the U.S. Army's Third Infantry Division as they stormed Baghdad. The awards were gratifying. But I didn't do this to win awards. I did it because I loved it. I did it because I couldn't imagine doing anything else.

Most reporters couldn't wait to get out of Afghanistan or Iraq after the initial invasions and the establishment of the new governments. But I repeatedly requested longer tours. I loved getting to know our boys who suited up for battle every day. I loved interviewing the Iraqis our troops were training and taking into battle. I also loved having beers and trading gossip with the spooks from Langley and MI6 and every other intelligence agency on the planet who had come to play in the Big Game. Most of all, though, I found it absolutely fascinating to slip away from the Green Zone and get out in the hinterland and risk life and limb trying to hook up with one insurgent commander or another to get his story. All the news that's fit to print, right? I wasn't there to regurgitate whatever the flacks at State or the Pentagon tried to spoon-feed me. I was there to find the real stories.

So whatever lay ahead, I was absolutely determined to head into Syria. I was going after the story. Not a single person I had confided in approved of what I was doing. But I wanted to think that one would have. I wanted to believe my grandfather would have been proud of me. At least he would have understood what I was doing and why.

A. B. Collins covered the Second World War for United Press International. Then he worked for the Associated Press all over the globe. To be perfectly honest, he was my idol. Maybe it was because of all the stories he used to tell me when I was growing up. That man could really spin a good yarn. I was in awe of the way he had seemed to have met everyone and seen everything. Then again, maybe I simply loved him because of all the ice cream Pop-Pop used to buy my older brother and me whenever he and Grammie Collins came to visit. Or maybe it was because my father had left us when I was only twelve, and I never saw him again—none of us did—and Pop-Pop was the only man I really had in my life growing up. It was he who took me fishing on Eagle Lake and hiking in Acadia National Park. It was he who taught me how to use his collection of rifles and took me on hunting trips all over Maine and even up in Canada. Whatever the reason, I loved the man with every fiber of my being, and for as long as I could remember, I wanted to do what he did, to be what he was. Now here I was, about to touch down in Beirut, a city he had worked in and lived in and loved dearly.

Maybe the olive didn't fall far from the tree.

Then again, my grandfather had lived a long and fruitful life and despite his many adventures had died in his bed, in his sleep, in his old age. At the moment, I had no presumption of meeting such a quiet and peaceful fate.


Excerpted from The Third Target by Joel C. Rosenberg. Copyright © 2015 Joel C. Rosenberg. Excerpted by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

What People are Saying About This

Porter Goss

Whenever I see a new Joel Rosenberg book coming out, I know I need to clear time on my cal-endar. His penetrating knowledge of all things Mideastern, coupled with his intuitive knack for high-stakes intrigue, demand attention.

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The Third Target 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 42 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Explosions. Secret deals. Mysterious murders. Captures. Beheadings. Politics. And a very intense ending that leaves readers on pins and needles for the next book.  When Joel Rosenberg began to write on the threat of Radical Islam, he had not heard of the group ISIS. He says, “As I went down the list of radical states and terrorist organizations in the region that might be able to gain control of WMD in Syria...I conferred with a range of Middle East experts, current and former intelligence officials, and retired U.S. and Israeli diplomats and military leaders, I asked who they thought was the next big threat likely to rise in the region. Without exception, they all told me, ‘ISIS.’”   In a few months, events escalated faster than imagined making ISIS a household name, and making his novel a plausible scenario. In keeping with Rosenberg’s descriptive writing style, the reader of this book is dropped alongside the characters, hearing, seeing, smelling, and feeling the scenes.  The main character, J.B. Collins, a New York Times correspondent is given the mission to immediately report the truth about rumors that ISIS captured chemical weapons in Syria. And, if true, what do they plan to do with them?  Genocide?  Who? When? Where? At the same time, there is breaking news of a peace treaty between Israel and Palestine to be signed in a few hours. If signed, will the treaty suppress ISIS? Or inflame their mission?     In a chilling interview with the head of ISIS, Collins asked, “Would you align yourself with Adolf Hitler if you could?” “No,” he said without hesitation. “Why not?” “He would align himself with me.” “Why is that?” “Because, Mr. Collins, in the end, I will kill more Jews than Adolf Hitler ever dreamed.”    Collins was struck with the well-organized and orchestrated plan of this terrorist group. The leader openly stated to him that “We aim to capture and behead the president of the United States and to raise the flag of ISIS over the White House. We aim to assassinate the prime minister of Israel…. to rid the region of apostate Arab leaders …to topple their governments one by one…and reestablish a true caliphate with me as the emir…eventually extending throughout the region and soon the globe.”   Toward this end, Collins learned that ISIS is recruiting furiously for their movement not just from Arab countries but from America, Europe, and Asia, blending in to each culture to unleash jihad when the command is given.  The uncanny developments from the research stage to the book’s final edit, places it on the must-read list for context when watching current events unfold.   (I received a complimentary copy from Tyndale Publishers in exchange for an honest and objective review.) 
booksandwine More than 1 year ago
Reviews say this all the time.."I couldn't put it down". With this book, that is an understatement! The Third Target is education in the Middle Eastern turmoil going on today. Why is ISIS so focused on destroying Israel? Which leader is determined to set a course for history with the peace process? This book is intensely riveting and surprisingly frightening because it could actually happen! It is a page turner of epic proportions. If I had to point out one flaw it would be the ending. Looks like there will be a sequel.
CateCK More than 1 year ago
Another timely, insightful book from Joel Rosenberg. Exciting to read and very relevant to our day and time. The references to Jordan and King Abdullah and ISIS are now front page news though this book was written months before. A must read!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a "must read" for all who are drawn to the Middle East and the future of our world.
DKWill More than 1 year ago
It's been a while since I've had time to truly read a book. Leafing through this one in the store intrigued me. Once I got home and started reading I found I was being sucked into the writers world of intrigue. At time I had to force myself to put the book down. My only fault with it is the cliff hanger ending that clearly points to a sequel.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Excellent Book!
berrylady More than 1 year ago
Joel Rosenberg's books are hard to put down until you get to the end - and Third Target is no different. Enjoyed the read as always!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Just could not put this book down. Love all of his books. SCOTT BOVE'
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A well-researched and thought provoking international intrigue based on the rise of ISIS and the threat they pose to the Mid-East and the world. It kept me on the edge of my seat! One must read its sequel, "The First Hostage."
Anonymous 12 months ago
Shallow characterization. Pedestrian action scenes to fill space left by underdeveloped plot. This writer is no Clancy or Rapp. Disappointed
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great read
BusyProfessional More than 1 year ago
A page-turner. Lots of insight into the Middle East and ISIS. Only a couple of pages of nutty Bible prophecies, but you can skip those. I liked this book a lot.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Just finished The Third Target by Joel C. Rosenburg. It is a raw look at a chilling what if question. Well researched and deeply engaging; it is guaranteed to keep you up at night. The middle chapters should be taught in every political science class and the bible study given in the back third of the book is solid and on point. Overall, it represents a great exposition of ISIS, the epicenter and escotological prophecy all wrapped up in a story that doesn't quit all the way up to the last page.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
AngelaBycroftNZ More than 1 year ago
“My heart hasn’t stopped pounding. . . “ It takes a special book to grab your attention in this fast paced world we live in and insist that any other menial task must be put to on side until it is finished. But the Third Target can be blamed for doing just that. After a solid if slightly slower start for a thriller - the action top gear and never dropped off the pace until the last page and without giving out spoilers, beyond!! J B Collins is a prestigious correspondent for the New York Times and while used to reporting in some pretty hairy situations, noting has prepared him for a harrowing trip over the boarder of Syria to interview one of the leaders of the much feared and ruthless ISIS. Has the Terrorist organisation obtained chemical weapons and what is their next target? The story moves around many of the Middle East countries that have become household names in the last few years thanks to the emergence of Islamic State (ISIS) and their murderous and sickening acts. The story at times feels like reading a non fiction account by a journalist just arrived back from this volatile area of the world. And it could well be ripped from headlines to come. The ending is both unbelievably tense and riveting, but also terrifyingly possible. And the ending is about as cliffhanger as a book can deliver. Thank goodness the sequel is already available as if I had read this without the ability to jump into the continuing story, it would have been much harder to get to sleep at night. Forget intense television serial drama, this will get the blood pumping and adrenaline surging. Take a deep breath . . . .
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
1wildcat More than 1 year ago
I have read each of Rosenberg's books and this is one of his best. Action packed? Most definitely. Twists and turns? You bet. With an ending that will leave you wanting to read what happens to this reporter and his family and friends. So, Mr. Rosenberg, get to work on the Third Target 2.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hooked on the very first page. Then it was hard to put down!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
TheIrishWarrior More than 1 year ago
Great plot and character development. I have never pre-ordered a book but will for the sequel to this book. His insight into the middle east is incredible.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This Page turning, cliff hanger book could be about the events happening now ! We all think that we will surely recognize when prophecy becomes actual events, but they have been and continue to be in world news. Surely the return of Christ cannot be far in future...
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
mkfg More than 1 year ago
Rosenberg kept me on the edge of my seat (or the edge of the page) eager to get thru each chapter and then on to the next. If you think ISIS isn't serious business, then read this for sure. You need to understand that the evil exists and Rosenberg brings it to life!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago