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Breaking al-Qaeda: Psychological and Operational Techniques Paperback – August 2, 2010
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Top Customer Reviews
I am just an interested lay person on the subject, but mostly this book only convinced me of the short-comings of America's actions in fighting the war on terror. The torture, the psychological studies that HURT people- anyone that's ever given a passing NOD to conspiracy forums will already be familiar with all these things. Oh, the book documents the history of Al-Qaeda well enough, even if the author is selective and leaves a lot out. It meanders from the history of radical terrorist groups right into the threat of everyday people joining the terrorists (homegrown terrorism).
I found it interesting that she talks about how no one particular group really is likely to join the extremists. Ok, she says, they do all tend to be MEN. What about their psychological traits? Huh? While she lays out nice charts full of potential motivations and goals, she largely ignores behavioral traits like superstitiousness, gullibility, and sexism. How meritocratic are these networks? What gives merit? Oops, not touched. Oh, I could probably write a book in rebuttal, and I don't have ten thousand degrees in national security and intelligence.Read more ›
This extensively researched academic text will not appeal to the casual reader who may find it dry and dull. The book suffers from lack of editorial discipline and is bogged down by an excess of words. The author uses whole paragraphs when a sentence or two would suffice. Concepts take a plethora of complicated and convoluted chapters to develop and main points are diluted by too much information.
Dr. Mastors editorializes from the start. The book begins with a judgmental and arrogant posture in which she criticizes Americans for not facing reality and who, "...do not take interest in anything outside their little slice of life." She says many Americans watch television news to keep up, and if it is not a "quick blip," it will not hold their attention.
This made me initially wonder for whom this book was written.
The author states the damage done by Edward Snowden to the National Security Agency is irreparable yet she does not address the damage done to Americans' privacy BY the NSA.
There's a discussion about whether or not terrorists are sociopaths who are attracted to violence. The author cites the ideas of Sigmund Freud, Albert Bandura, Fathali Moghaddam, Simon Cottee and Keith Hayward and others who have different ideas about the development and motivation of the terrorist mentality. There's an interesting chart which gives personal, social, economic, and political motivations which may impact the creation of a terrorist.Read more ›
The book's strong point is history of individuals and groups. While the book did offer quite a bit of detail on some AL-Queda officers' lives and also the source of some of their hatred of the US (family deaths), that doesn't help me as a citizen make anything out of what we're dealing with here. At one point, during the discussion of Usama bin Laden, I thought we were on to something. The author goes into some detail about bin Laden as a US ally during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. I was aware of this but wanted to hear some information on how he went from an ally to a sworn enemy. The author devotes one single sentence to this conversion saying something like, "Unfortunately he then turned against the US." (that's a paraphrase). One sentence to how an ally of the US went on to become the engineer of 9/11.
Really? That's all to be said for it?
I had high hopes for another chapter dealing with the psychology of a terrorist. What would cause a healthy man in his 20's to fly a suicide mission? Here the chapter is even more muddled than usual. We start off with some Freudian this or that including an episode where a famous terrorist's mommy once failed to drive him to take a major school test and a few other anecdotes such as French children teasing young Arabs about eating pork. I learned utterly nothing about the mind of a suicide bomber or terrorist.
The author skips around it but I'll state my view. A person will suicide under three conditions. First, he is convinced doing so will grant him eternal heaven.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A good primer on the interrogation process, including various approaches to interogationPublished 2 months ago by Eternal Student
The book offers a lot of pretentious "suggestions" to defeating al Qaeda, but I kept wondering, "If these ideas are so great, why haven't we used them, and if we have... Read morePublished 13 months ago by Amazon Customer
'Breaking Al-Qaeda' is a textbook meant to provide the information and background necessary for intelligence analysts (and the curious) to address Al-Qaeda's current status in... Read morePublished 20 months ago by Leah Berk
Ever since 9-11 I have not read any books on the subject being that is was too painful to explore. But I thought I would broaden my horizons and give it a try. Read morePublished 20 months ago by Steve J.
This is a surprisingly comprehensive and in-depth "textbook-type" experience. I wouldn't be surprised if they were using this at a textbook in a newly founded political... Read morePublished 20 months ago by MussSyke
The reason this book is hard to read is not because the material is complex; it's because the editing is very poor. Read morePublished 21 months ago by Diane Kistner
Wow. Just had to read this for a graduate degree in intelligence operations and I could not be more disappointed that this book was required. Read morePublished on April 24, 2014 by Predj