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Hunting in the Shadows: The Pursuit of Al Qa'ida Since 9/11
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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
on April 17, 2012
"Hunting in the Shadows" is, by far, the best book on al Qaeda I have read in the last few years. It digs deeply into some of the most significant terrorist plots and attacks -- from the 2005 al Qaeda-led London bombings to the 2009 al Qaeda plot by Najibullah Zazi to conduct suicide attacks on the New York City subway. The book is extremely well-written and includes interesting dialogue from signals intelligence intercepts and other sources. It's also balanced and objective. Perhaps most useful, however, is Dr. Jones' framework for understanding al Qaeda's activities in a series of "waves" and "reverse waves." In sum, lots of good information, well-written, and important argument. I liked it to so much I've started reading it ... again.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on July 16, 2012
Seth Jones lays out the facts and nuances of the main characters that have walked the path to terrorism. His thoughtful analysis and writing creates a flow that reads similarly to Looming Tower or even the 9/11 Commission Report. An excellent reference for those that wish to learn more about the backgrounds of terrorists and the reasons for tactical response.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on May 16, 2012
I served on several of the missions described in "Hunting in the Shadows," so saw them up close. Dr. Jones provides an unparalleled -- and stunningly accurate -- picture of U.S., British, and other allied efforts against al Qaeda. I found his argument that al Qaeda's strengths and weaknesses have risen and fallen in a series of "waves" to be novel and highly persuasive. I also appreciate his objectivity; there is no political bent to the story. And he pulls no punches. The U.S. made mistakes in some areas, but had great successes in others. I thought the best part of the book was his second-to-last section -- on "The Third Wave" -- which provides an inside-the-mission feel to some of the most dangerous terrorist plots against the United States. A big kudos to Dr. Jones. I just wish people like me -- who served on several of these missions -- had this kind of an analysis earlier.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on August 24, 2013
I was lucky to meet the author at a seminar a few months ago and couldn't wait to read his book. Seth Jones is a true counterterrorism expert and a great writer. He goes into remarkable behind the scenes detail of many of the major terrorism events in the US over the past ten years. The story lines are amazing and the writing is gripping. The behind the scenes efforts to deal with al Qaeda are extraordinary and I gained an enormous appreciation for both the challenges our counterterrorism experts face and what they accomplish. A must read!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on December 16, 2012
I personally think that this was one of the most concise historical books about al Qa`Ida and their ideology that has ever been written. I would like to commend the author for his outstanding efforts in portraying who they are as a group and exactly what they are capable of doing to those of us who don't follow their beliefs. This is a must read book for people who truly want to understand why this particular group has done these extreme events.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on October 29, 2013
This book paints a much broader picture of the background and history of Al' Qaeda and the fight prior to 9/11. It was a fascinating tail that really opens ones eyes to the struggles the Nation faced with knowing the how of the imminent attacks, but the when and where were a constant mystery. This book is a must read for anyone wanting to learn more about the steps of how and why our country treats terrorist threats today the way we do. Excellent read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on July 21, 2013
I've read several books now on this topic and this was probably the most balanced and informative of all. Excellent!
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on January 7, 2013
Hunting in the Shadows is a very interesting account of al Qaeda's operations and status since 9/11. This chronicles the various operations conducted or inspired by al Qaeda and the various individuals in carrying out the plots and the aftermath. What the author argues is that al Qaeda's operations come in waves in which operations are planned grow strength and attempted or carried out followed by a lull as those attempts are responded to. For example the first wave began with the US Embassy bombings in 1998 and crested wit the 9/11 attacks. The wave then ebbed as the US began operations to destroy al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan only to rise once again as the US invaded Iraq. As one reads it becomes clear how the US adapted to it's strategy fighting al Qaeda and likewise how al Qaeda attempted to cope with the changing battlefield and challenges of becoming gradually decentralized as leaders were systematically killed or captured.

One thing readers can appreciate is the lack of partisanism. Dr. Jones writes objectively; pointing out the various policy flaws and failures of Washington as well as the strengths of those pursuing al Qaeda. We are good at hunting and responding but it appears prevention and identifying plots and plotters is still weak. One thing is clear: we got lucky on several occasions that al Qaeda trained bombers such as the shoe bomber, Richard Reid, the Christmas day underwear bomber,and the NYC Times Square car bomb attempt were pretty amateurish.

Dr. Jones, a RAND employee, also offers suggestions that policy makers would be wise to heed. The reduction of conventional combat forces in Iraq is starting to pay off while the use of clandestine CIA and law enforcement assets and special operations to systematically pick off al Qaeda one by one, thus leaving a small foot print, is proving to be more successful.

The author believes, and I agree in hindsight, that the Iraq invention helped al Qaeda in the short run by giving excused to would be terrorist recruits to defend what they perceive as an infidel incursion into Muslim lands and diverting critical assets away from the central al Qaeda threat based in Afghanistan and Pakistan. In the long run I believe the Iraq invasion will prove worthy despite the lack of prudence at the time of the invasion in March 2003.

Anybody interested in a concise look at where al Qaeda now stands and how we've done fighting against them would really enjoy and appreciate this book. Highly recommended.
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VINE VOICEon November 10, 2013
As the author Seth Jones notes, al Qa'ida is an organization that has evolved since 9/11. The United States was over-ambitious in invading both Afghanistan and Iraq, and this led al-Qa'ida to evolve into a decentralized terror network consisting of radicalized Muslims bent on doing harm to the West and especially the United States. The author comes up with a wave theory that shows how this terror organization has weakened and then strengthened. As the central leadership has been killed off, other allied organizations have helped to plant terror in different parts of the world. This has included the West itself. Some of the homegrown cells in Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States have turned as deadly as other terror plots.

This shows the evolving history of al-Qa'ida. This organization will continue to try to harm Westerners and others as they oppose American and other interests. This will be a long battle, but one that is between good and evil.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on September 13, 2013
Considering what has already been said, as someone who has followed this fight before the attack on the USS Cole, there is some fresh information to be found. I have always wanted to find more information on the subway plots and they are explained quite well. No system or intelligence service is infallible and slips and cracks are going to occur. Information about these cracks was covered in a very unbiased style. It would be a mistake to recommend this work just for a general read. The reader needs to be experienced and knowledgeable about the region and the many players.

Mr. Jones should be congratulated on an excellent work about a difficult subject.
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