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Inside Al Qaeda: Global Network of Terror Paperback – June 3, 2003

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Editorial Reviews

Review

A comprehensive study of the terror group. -- The Mirror, London

Excellent. -- Wolf Blitzer, CNN

[Gunaratna is] the foremost English-speaking expert on the terror network. -- Dan Rather, CBS Evening News

From the Inside Flap

Inside Al Qaeda examines the leadership, ideology, structure, strategies, and tactics of the most violent politico-religious organization the world has ever seen. The book is based on five years of research on Al Qaeda, including extensive interviews with its members; field research in Al Qaeda-supported conflict zones in Central, South and Southeast Asia and the Middle East; and monitoring Al Qaeda infiltration of diaspora and migrant communities in North America and Europe.

The definitive work on Al Qaeda, this book is based on five years of research, including extensive interviews with its members; field research in Al Qaeda-supported conflict zones around the globe; and monitoring Al Qaeda infiltration of diaspora and migrant communities in North America and in Europe.

Inside Al Qaeda examines the leadership, ideology, structure, strategies and tactics of the most violent politico-religious organization the world has ever seen. Although founded in 1988, Al Qaeda merged with and still works with several other extremist groups. Hence Al Qaeda rank and file draw on nearly three decades of terrorist expertise. Moreover, it inherited a full-fledged training and operational infrastructure funded by the United States, European, Saudi Arabian and other governments for use in the anti-Soviet Jihad.

This book sheds light on Al Qaeda's financial infrastructure and how they train combat soldiers and vanguard fighters for multiple guerrilla, terrorist and semi-conventional campaigns in the Middle East, Asia, Africa, the Caucuses, and the Balkans. In addition, the author covers the clandestine Al Qaeda operational network in the West.

Gunaratna reveals:

* how Osama bin Laden had his mentor and Al Qaeda founder, 'Azzam', assassinated in order to take over the organization and that other Al Qaeda officers who stood in his way were murdered.

* Al Qaeda's long-range, deep-penetration agent handling system in Western Europe and North America for setting up safe houses, procuring weapons, and conducting operations

* how the O55 Brigade—Al Qaeda’s guerrilla organization—integrated into the Taliban

* how the arrest of Zacarias Moussaoui forced Al Qaeda to move forward on September 11

* how a plan to destroy British Parliament on 9/11 and to use nerve gas on the European Union Parliament were thwarted

* how the Iran—Hezbollah—Al Qaeda link provided the knowledge to conduct coordinated, simultaneous attacks on multiple targets, including failed plans to destroy Los Angeles International Airport, the USS Sullivan, the Radisson Hotel in Jordan, and eleven US commercial airliners over the Pacific ocean

* that one-fifth of international Islamic charities and NGOs are infiltrated by Al Qaeda

* how the US response is effective militarily in the short term, but insufficient to counter Al Qaeda's ideology in the long-term

Finally, to destroy Al Qaeda, Gunaratna shows there needs to be a multipronged, multiagency, and multidimensional response by the international community. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 362 pages
  • Publisher: Berkley Trade; Rei Sub edition (June 3, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0425191141
  • ISBN-13: 978-0425191149
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 1.1 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,424,665 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

38 of 44 people found the following review helpful By Kay Kelly on July 22, 2002
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book appears to be a good reference source. I don't have the expertise to judge its accuracy, but I'm willing to assume the author knows his field.
There are problems. Foremost among them is Gunaratna's charge that Osama bin Laden acquiesced in the killing of his mentor, Sheikh Azzam, in 1989. This claim is worded more boldly on the cover flap: "[Gunaratna reveals] how bin Laden had his mentor and Al Qaeda founder, 'Azzam,' assassinated in order to take over the organization and how other Al Qaeda officers who stood in his way were murdered."
Gunaratna may "reveal" this to readers who haven't heard the rumors, but he doesn't prove it. He simply asserts that there was a falling out between Azzam on one side, and bin Laden and Egyptian members of their group on the other, because Azzam opposed using terror tactics. He claims the Egyptians assassinated Azzam after having "won over Osama to their cause"--that he "sanctioned, if not condoned" the killing. A sample of Gunaratna's biased writing: "All this is of a piece with Osama's exceedingly duplicitous nature."
How's this for evidence of involvement? "[Bin Laden's] cunning was...demonstrated by the fact that he left Pakistan for Saudi Arabia in the year that Azzam died. It has been impossible to pin down when exactly he left, and no sources on this have been forthcoming, but one should not in the least be surprised if it transpires he was not in Pakistan when Azzam was murdered, furnishing himself with a sound alibi and allowing him to distance himself from the act as much as possible."
The only source Gunaratna cites in support of his claims is a statement made by a prisoner a decade later: that bin Laden ordered the assassination because he believed Azzam was aiding the CIA.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on July 11, 2002
Format: Hardcover
It is shocking when a major university press publishes a book as sloppily edited as this one. In addition to the factual errors other reviewers have noted, there are numerous typos and sentence fragments. The notes at the back are also very inconsistent in their level of citation. All of this is particularly unfortunate, since the author clearly has amassed a great wealth of detail on al-Qaeda's worldwide operations, including much "new" evidence hitherto unpublished in English. But given the carelessness of so much of the editing, how can we be sure the author's information is accurate and trustworthy?
I did think this book had two virtues. The country-by-country survey of al-Qaeda operations gave a very thorough and complex picture of the ways in which al-Qaeda infiltrates and liaises with local groups and causes, while retaining its global ideology and focus. And the reporting is happily free of the America-centric emphasis of so much recent work on al-Qaeda. Although sympathetic to the American position, the author lets al-Qaeda 'speak for itself' and stresses the danger it poses in many countries, not just the United States.
Frankly, I would not allow such a shoddily edited book (obviously hastily rushed to press to capitalize on the current crisis) to be published under my name, particularly when I clearly had such a detailed command of a subject, as this author seems to.
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32 of 38 people found the following review helpful By Ross Hardter on August 21, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Having read the book and all of the reviews on Amazon, what more could I possibly add? A couple of the early reviews said, in essence, this book is a waste of time and money. Most of the reviews since then have, while pointing out the many editing faults, effectively demolished that put-down.
Well, there is now one thing worth adding. This week's 64 CNN Al Qaeda training tapes have provided visible verification of what Dr. Gunaratna wrote and published last spring, notably including the animal chemical weapons tests.
If one cannot quite handle this data rich volume in toto, at least read the two concluding chapters on Asia and on Al Qaeda's threat and the international response.
For importance, this book rates a 5. For content, it also rates a 5. For editing, only a 3. Net conclusion: 4 plus.
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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 19, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Excellent book. A well researched and overview of Al Qaeda. Provides excellent insights into the ideology and methods of operation for one of the world's most dangerous terrorist groups. Unlike other books on this subject, this work is superbly footnoted, perhaps reflecting the author's academic background. This is essential for a truly authoritative work of non-fiction, something sadly lacking in many other books in this genre. The section on Al Qaeda's operations in Southeast Asia is groundbreaking, providing information not seen anywhere else. Tellingly much of what the author described about Al Qaeda operations in Asia was subsequently demonstrated in spades in Bali last October. The general reader might find this book somewhat dense, the print is small and the reading somewhat dry. For the serious student of modern terrrorism, however, this book is a must have. Other authors should take a lesson from Gunaratna's footnoting. Well worth the price!!
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28 of 38 people found the following review helpful By Joel L. Gandelman VINE VOICE on November 19, 2003
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is THE definitive book so far on Al Qadea for several reasons. One of the biggest is that since it came out in 2002 (it is now in paperback too) it has proven more correct every single day. If you've heard some of this information before or read some of it before it's mainly because this is the book that clearly has been the authorative source for many of journalists (I was a journalist and know how that works!)who do not attribute their on-the-air brilliance to the fact that they read this book. It's all HERE. And more and more of this book is proving to be correct every single day.
The latest sign of author Rohan Gunaratna's solid scholarship, analysis and nuts-and-bolts-inside-info in Inside Al Qaeda has been displayed on the front page of the Los Angeles Times which ran a story about how the terrorist organization is undergoing a "major shift" in strategy -- mutating into more of a decentralized network, relying on an array of regional and local allies to launch more frequent attacks on targets. If you read the book before, you KNEW that this network was in place -- and that this development was coming.
Guanaratna painstakingly lays out the huge worldwide network of terrorist groups that are directly or indirectly allied with Al Qaeda. He breaks it down into regions and countries. In fact, this book is a virtual directory: see an event in the newspapers, then look it up in this book and you have all the background to sound like an on the air expert (but you won't get paid big bucks).
No, it does not read like a novel. But this superb book is highly readable -- reading like a straightfoward newsmagazine report. There is not a word of filler or ideological rhetoric in it -- the author only lays out....facts.
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