- Paperback: 280 pages
- Publisher: Pluto Press; 1 edition (May 20, 2011)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0745331017
- ISBN-13: 978-0745331010
- Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.7 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 14.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 17 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,520,430 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Inside Al-Qaeda and the Taliban: Beyond Bin Laden and 9/11 1st Edition
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About the Author
Syed Saleem Shahzad (1970-2011) was an investigative reporter who worked as Pakistan Bureau Chief at Asia Times Online. His persistence, courage and reputation allowed him unparalleled access to leaders and fighters in Islamic movements enabling him to secure interviews with figures such as Al-Qaeda commander, Ilyas Kashmiri. He had been both a hostage and a guest of the Taliban, which gave him a unique insight into the organisation's internal structures. He was abducted and killed in Pakistan in May 2011. He left a wife and three children.
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Top customer reviews
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He was the first to interview leading commanders of al Qaeda's so-called shadow army, including Siraj Haqqani (leader of the Haqqani network), Ilyas Kashmiri (leader of Brigade 313), Mullah Nazir (South Waziristan), and Qari Ziaur Rahman (Kunar/Nuristan/Bajaur), and countless others.
I have consumed most books published on terrorism in the past decade, but a lot of those books lack insight,
because hardly anybody can venture into the tribal areas of Pakistan.
Syed Saleem Shahzad could.
If anybody knew what is going on in the al Qaeda's capital, it was Syed Saleem Shahzad.
His murder shortly after the publication of this book (possibly by the infamous Pakistani intelligence agency ISI) only confirms that some people were very worried by his reporting.
Anybody interested in terrorism should consider buying this book.
If you have doubts, read some of his many articles at Asia Times Online: [...]
The critical underlying concepts that the book emphasizes are: 1. that the war in Afghanistan is about global Jihad to rid all Muslim countries of "infidels", especially Palestine, and 2. that Al Qaeda is using Afghanistan as a trap for America to squander its resources and become weaker and more isolated globally. The process of weakening America will enable another generation of Jihadis to fight America over Israel in an "end times" battle for the Levant. So far as this writer can tell, the strategy has been working.
The book is an unintended indictment of US military and diplomatic officials who insisted on the "surge" and extensive operations in the flatlands of Helmand province while most of Al Qaeda and the Taliban leadership stayed in the mountains through which the Durand line passes. In going for what was the easier fight, General Petraeus has had only limited success at securing real estate when he is, in fact, fighting a revolutionary idea.
The book wastes little time on American strategic intentions. Instead, it chronicles the victories, defeats, strategies and ideological development of Al Qaeda and the Taliban that the late author likens to a "1001 nights" tale. And what a tale it is! From the dreamy, heady days after the Soviet defeat to only a few months ago, the author traces many threads other than Bin Laden, who, as it turns out, was not that important to Al Qaeda thinking.
Significant elements of the tale are the present fight to develop a caliphate that stretches from Afghanistan through Central Asia, across Pakistan to all of India. Another element is how the ISI's concept of "strategic depth" backfired and dropped all of Pakistani ISI's military assets, including many of its own military officers and men in the lap of Al Qaeda leadership. The reinvigorated organization is now a truly dangerous international movement.
Only days ago, Ambassador Ryan Crocker promised that America will not "abandon" Afghanistan. As he spoke, Taliban militants infiltrated Kabul and attacked the US Embassy. It was a move that most observers noted could not have taken place without inside help from Karzai's security forces. The suicide attack bore the signature of Al Qaeda which the book reports as having assumed command of the Afghan Taliban. It also has a striking similarity to the '68 Tet attack on the US embassy in Saigon as it was not effective militarily but did highlight the absurdity of the US position in Afghanistan.
While the book is well informed by Al Qaeda and Taliban insiders, I was struck by the numbers of fighters that were claimed by these sources. They are enormous. I believe and hope that they are exaggerated as one might expect, given the sources. In my experience, lopping a zero or two off a given troop strength tends to get to a more real troop size. But the book is absolutely excellent at mapping the goals, methods and strategies of Al Qaeda and the Taliban which are slowly morphing into one organization, led by impressive revolutionaries.
Whatever inaccuracies the book may contain, I seriously doubt that it's far off the mark. Somebody murdered the author for writing it. I don't wonder who.
Al-Qaeda and the Taliban have tactics, strategies and systems that are well explained in this book. Their ideology and actions are fully explored in this book in a detailed manner. The only other writer who does similar work (that I know of) is Steve Coll - and Steve got a Pulitzer for his work. There are critical lessons for the West in this book that hopefully will save us from making history changing mistakes.
I will add that the author was Pakistani and his language has it's own style. Readers should not expect Western writing style will be disappointed.... I think this unique style is what makes this an interesting read.
I wish Western journalists took lessons from this book about what journalism is all about. Perhaps then their garbage, celebrity and money oriented news style will change for the better.