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The Secret History of al Qaeda

Abdel Bari Atwan

193 ratings by Goodreads
ISBN 10: 0520249747 / ISBN 13: 9780520249745
Published by University of California Press, 2006
Used Condition: Good
From Better World Books: West (Reno, NV, U.S.A.)

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Ships from Reno, NV. Former Library book. Shows some signs of wear, and may have some markings on the inside. Bookseller Inventory # GRP91956644

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Bibliographic Details

Title: The Secret History of al Qaeda

Publisher: University of California Press

Publication Date: 2006

Book Condition:Good

Edition: 1st Edition.

About this title


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

From the Inside Flap:

"Deeply researched, well reported and full of interesting and surprising analyses. It demands to be read."—Peter Bergen, author of Holy War, Inc. and The Osama Bin Laden I Know

"Scholarly, analytical, objective, it is also intensely readable, being by far the best book on the subject."—Rt. Hon Tony Benn

"This is chilling stuff, from a rendezvous with Osama Bin Laden in the Caves of Tora Bora to al Qaeda cryptology in cyber space, Atwan's account of how suicide bombers are made is particularly disturbing, but necessary reading, as too is his careful account of how recruiting takes place on the Internet. Many will no doubt be angered by his ability to convey the appeal of a frightening phenomenon, but Atwan is not afraid of controversy and by sharing his insights he is sending the message that unless we wise up al Qaeda will be the winner."—Dr. Rosemary Hollis, Director of Research, Chatham House

"For the first time since the attacks of September 11th, the reading public is beginning to turn its attention to bin Laden—to his writings, to the bits of information that can be gleaned from those, like Atwan, who have spent time with him, and to his actions. This book is an important part of the picture that readers are now beginning to assemble. As it presents in stark language and without apology al Qaeda's reasoning and goals, it is a good starting point for responding to those claims."—Karen Greenberg, Director of the Center on Law and Security at NYU School of Law and co-editor of The Torture Papers: The Road to Abu Ghraib

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