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The Search for Al Qaeda: Its Leadership, Ideology, and Future, Revised edition [Kindle Edition]

Bruce Riedel
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Al Qaeda is the most dangerous terrorist movement in history. Yet most people in the West know very little about it, or their view is clouded by misperceptions and half truths. This widely acclaimed book fills this gap with a comprehensive analysis of al Qaeda —the origins, leadership, ideology, and strategy of the terrorist network that brought down the Twin Towers and continues to threaten us today.

Bruce Riedel draws on decades of insider experience —he was actually in the White House during the September 11 attacks —in profiling the four most important figures in the al Qaeda movement: Usama bin Laden, ideologue and spokesman Ayman Zawahiri, former leader of al Qaeda in Iraq Abu Musaib al Zarqawi (killed in 2006), and Mullah Omar, its Taliban host. These profiles provide the base from which Riedel delivers a much clearer understanding of al Qaeda and its goals, as well as what must be done to counter
and defeat this most dangerous menace.

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Riedel, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and senior adviser on the Middle East to three past presidents, reviews how al-Qaeda has flourished since the September 11 attacks with �franchises� mushrooming around the world. The author surveys al-Qaeda�s origins, workings and key members and introduces fresh information about the organization�s ideology and future plans. Riedel warns against conflating the war against al-Qaeda with the current war in Iraq (�the president chose to declare war not on al Qaeda, but on 'terrorism,� a concept that he and Vice President Dick Cheney arrived at by confusing 9/11 with Saddam Hussein�s Iraq�) and demonstrates how U.S. actions compound �the public�s ignorance and vulnerability.� He argues that concentrating forces in Iraq has diverted attention and presence from Afghanistan and Pakistan, the hotbeds of jihadist organization, and suggests redirecting the military back to the �badlands� of the Afghan-Pakistan border while offering economic aid to forestall the extremism that thrives in destitute areas. Riedel�s argument in favor of greater U.S. involvement in the Arab-Israeli peace process is persuasive, and his prescriptions are well-evidenced, unfailingly sound and refreshingly sensible.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


"Riedel's argument in favor of greater U.S. involvement in the Arab-Israeli peace process is persuasive, and his prescriptions are well-evidenced, unfailingly sound and refreshingly sensible." — Publishers Weekly

"Mr. Riedel argues that a new American president should tackle al-Qaeda by undermining the "narrative" of Muslim oppression. He provides several sensible recommendations, such as making a renewed effort to settle the festering disputes over Palestine and Kashmir." — The Economist

"Bruce Riedel's The Search for al Qaeda is in parts alarming and in parts reassuring. Yes, we need to be worried Riedel argues.... Yet the situation is not hopeless: good policy would ameliorate the problem. In a literature tending towards either the blithe or the fatalistic, Riedel's book stands out.... an extremely valuable primer." —Clive Crook, Financial Times

"What puts The Search for al Qaeda in the "must read" category is its length. In just 150 pages, Riedel explores the networks ideology and motivations through tightly drawn profiles of Osama bin Laden, the Egyptian-born strategic thinker Ayman al-Zawahiri, Taliban leader Mullah Omar and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who outsmarted Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld in Iraq.... Riedel may not have all the answers, but his book is a critical primer for those who will have to find them." —Raymond Bonner, The Guardian

"As Bruce Riedel argues in his slim but provocative book, Al-Qaeda has returned to the site of its genesis: the badlands between Afghanistan and Pakistan. The book serves as a quick recap of the Al-Qaeda story to date, but Riedel takes the terror tale forward on a number of fronts. One conclusion he forcefully makes is "that Pakistan is the country most critical to the development and survival of Al-Qaeda."" —Pramit Pal Chaudhuri, Hindustan Times

"If you are tired of the same old talking heads blathering on TV about things they don't really know about, this is the book for you. Bruce Riedel is the real expert on Al Qaeda...this is a fascinating and important account of the whole Middle East problem with a focus on Al Qaeda by someone who has had firsthand experience in the region for the last thirty years." — Leadership Development News

"Riedel offers no easy solution for how to defeat al Qaeda, but he does put the threat in perspective." — Macleans

"Riedel manages to distill the essence of Al Qaeda in just 150 pages. Among other things, he notes that the Islamic fundamentalists do not hate America's values, only its policies.... a starting point for a much-needed debate." —Ray Bonner, New York Times Book Review

"In a fast-paced narrative, it offers the reader much of what he might want to learn about Al Qaeda." —Amir Taheri, Asharq Al-Awsat

"While there have been numerous books on international terrorism and al Qaeda since 9/11, few have done such a masterful job of presenting essential knowledge about the organization in such a correspondingly insightful, detailed, and straightforward way. This book by a gifted analyst and strategist deserves the attention of readers seeking a strategic outlook." —W. Andrew Terrill, US Army War College, Parameters

"The Search for Al Qaeda is an excellent source for understanding the threat of al Qaeda and ways to counter it, and a book best suited for analysts and internationally oriented security professionals." —Mayer Nudell, Security Management

"This straightforward, concise and sensibly organised book sets forth a balanced assessment of al-Qaeda and its capabilities and prospects." —Jonathan Stevenson, Survival

"This crisp, cool, highly informed analysis of 9/11 and al-Qaeda puts things in perspective better than most accounts." —Steven Carroll, The Age (Melbourne)

"In 150 lucid pages, Bruce Riedel gets inside the heart of Al-Qaeda and shows us how to kill it." —Eboo Patel, On Faith Washington Post

Product Details

  • File Size: 1572 KB
  • Print Length: 186 pages
  • Publisher: Brookings Institution Press; 2nd edition (February 19, 2010)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B003ODJ7IG
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #607,899 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
29 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Elusive Target October 13, 2008
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book provides a very detailed description of that mysterious phenomenon called `al Qaeda' and offers a strategy to counter the threat that it poses to the U.S. and its allies. Bruce Riedel is by most rational standards an expert on Middle Eastern affairs. He has spent the better part of his government career engaged in the research and analysis of the Middle East and now resides at the Brookings Institute as one of their stable of expert.

Riedel provides a broad outline of al Qaeda including brief biographies of Osma bin Laden and his principal lieutenant Ayman al Zawahari. Perhaps more importantly he identifies the ideology behind the strategic thinking of al Qaeda. In the course of doing so he also explains the close alliance between al Qaeda and the still active Taliban religious movement in Afghanistan. In Riedel's analysis the strategic goal of al Qaeda is to drive the West from the Realm of Islam (Dar al Islam), to establish a Sharia based Caliphate over world wide Islam, and of course to eliminate Israel. Fortunately the majority of Muslims do not necessarily agree with this goal. Still it is a fact that many Muslims see the days of the Baghdad Caliphate (circa 800-1200 CE) as a golden age and often reflect that the age secular nationalism has brought Muslims more humiliations than triumphs.

Riedel's strategy for defeating al Qaeda and its cult of violence is multi-tiered and correctly centers on Afghanistan and Pakistan not Iraq. And he views the struggle as much ideological as military. In his opinion the present administration of George W. Bush blundered badly in its efforts to deal with the continuing threat from al Qaeda and indeed with Operation Iraqi Freedom did exactly what bin Laden had hoped the U.S. would do.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Are the solutions possible? November 3, 2008
By Luther
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is a fascinating and important account of the whole Middle East problem with a focus on Al Qaeda by someone who has had firsthand experience in the region for the last thirty years. Riedel served in the CIA for thirty years, advised three Presidents and was also an adviser to NATO for three years, from 2003 to 2006. He has the credentials and the credibility.

The bulk of the book--Chapters Two through Five--treats Zawahiri, Osama (as he calls him), Mullah Omar and Zarqawi. Any reader will definitely learn something he/she didn't know about them from these chapters.

However, the real heart of this book is Chapter Seven, How to Defeat al Qaeda. I have no doubt that Riedel is making his suggestions based on extensive knowledge of the areas, but as I read them, I wondered at the feasibility of many of his proposals.

First, he talks of breaking the narrative of Al Qaeda. At the heart of this narrative/grievance is the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. His solution is the two-state one, with Israel abandoning almost of the West Bank and Gaza. His plan is for the 500,000 Israeli settlers to abandon their settlements, and for Palestinian refugees to have the choice of returning to the West Bank or receiving compensation from some international fund (the cost estimated at between $45-$50 billion). He doesn't discuss who is going to compensate the Israeli settlers. Furthermore, Hamas must be a part of the process. In addition, Jerusalem will become an international city once again.

Is all or any of this possible?

Second, for Afghanistan, he wants a Marshall Plan (who's going to pay for it?) to reconstruct the country and a buildup of their army and police force.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Search ENDS here, get this book! August 28, 2009
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Bruce Riedel was in the CIA for almost 30 years, and a close advisor to several US Presidents, and has met many world leaders. The book also gave me new appreciation for the work of Presidents Clinton and Bush.

In a nutshell, I can not overemphasis how important it is that you read this book! It is without a doubt the best read on post 9-11 international affairs I have ever read. Clear, easy to read and extremely insightful as to the whos, whys and wheres of Al Qaeda.

The book also puts forth answers on what the US should do to resolve the AQ problem, the Israeli-Palestinian issue, the negative view of the USA by Muslims worldwide, and other critical issues we face today!

The book is only 154 pages of text, so is not a long read, but the book is succinct, well thought out and doesn't waste paper on blathering about unrelated issues.

The book, I must admit, has opened my eyes. I feel I now have a much more sympathetic view of Islam as a religion, and of different cultures such as the Saudi Kingdom, Jordan, Pakistan, India, Afghanistan, etc.

The book also addresses the goals of AQ, the ways it plans on conducting "raids" on America, and when those raids are most likely to occur, and how.

I approached the book with the intent to learn, and learn I did. I kept a notepad and pen next to me and noted words that I needed to look up and find the meanings of. I learned a lot of new Arabic words, which is helpful in this understanding. Let me share some new words I learned and their meanings:

UMMAH - community or nation
CALIPHATE - form of govt.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars The Middle-East Situation
For me, it was quite an interesting history lesson; one I'm sure will not be found in many classrooms hereabouts. Read more
Published 8 months ago by wibobubson
5.0 out of 5 stars 1 - great seller. Book even used was in better condition ...
1 - great seller. Book even used was in better condition than described.
2 - shipping and packaging was perfect. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Will
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book on military history
I got my copy for 10$. It came with a personal inscription from Mr. Riedel, and his signature. It is a good book, and well written. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Adam Landry
5.0 out of 5 stars Good book
The book was one perspective of what all went on; however, it was well written and make a lot of sense. Read more
Published on March 5, 2013 by student
5.0 out of 5 stars The Search for Al Qaeda:
This was a requested gift for someone else. I do know that the person has marked up this book to remind her of specific passages. She loves it. Has good background information.
Published on August 29, 2011 by informed
4.0 out of 5 stars Cracking insight into AQ, worth a read.
Very readable insight into AQ. Found Riedel's style to be a little self-congratulatory, but understandable given the positions he has held over the last two decades. Read more
Published on May 1, 2011 by henderbeast
5.0 out of 5 stars PRESDIENT OBAMA IS READING THIS BOOK and we should be too !!!! - Five...
There are some excellent reviews posted regarding this book, so I will not duplicate what they have said so well. Read more
Published on December 14, 2010 by Richard of Connecticut
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome, a must read.
This book is a must read for anyone who wants to truly understand Afghanistan, Pakistan, the Taliban and Al Qaeda. Read more
Published on November 6, 2010 by T. Feeley
5.0 out of 5 stars The Definitive Book
I will admit that I prefer an academic look at issues that are as important and as complicated as Al Qaeda. Read more
Published on March 24, 2010 by Ondine
5.0 out of 5 stars Finally, a clear analysis
Over a year after publication, this book still provides the clearest overall account of Al Qaeda's global strategy, integrating Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistani operations among... Read more
Published on January 17, 2010 by Eli Berman
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