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Kill or Capture: How a Special Operations Task Force Took Down a Notorious al Qaeda Terrorist Hardcover – February 1, 2011
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Air Force veteran Alexander ( How to Break a Terrorist , 2008) chronicles how his interrogation task force helped the U.S. Army track down a Syrian terrorist known as Zafar. Believed to be responsible for thousands of deaths, Zafar was the leader of al-Qaeda in northern Iraq. The author, using his interrogative skills and knowledge of the Iraqi culture, was tasked to find him. The search followed an invariable routine: Alexander, his teammate Mike, their two interpreters and a contingent of soldiers would ride in an armed personnel carrier through Kirkuk, where Zafar was known to operate. Arriving at a house, the interrogators would wait while the soldiers secured the premises and inhabitants. Then they would enter and begin asking questions. Usually, the author and Mike would work separately, giving them a chance to test their information. The person they were most interested in might not bend, but a wife, a brother or other family member might. Many of their techniques drew on lessons learned from police work in the United States, using observation and street-smart psychology to get past the surface of the subject's answers. Alexander is especially proud that he and his team never resorted to torture ("I strongly oppose the use of torture or abuse as interrogation methods for both pragmatic and moral reasons"). During the course of his many investigations, readers will get a sense of life on an Army base in hostile territory, a situation that alternates between boredom and frantic action. Readers will also come to respect Alexander and his colleagues, who lived by their wits in a treacherous environment while refusing to bend the rules to gain a momentary edge on their adversaries, and for the Iraqi people, who are doing their best to survive and make a new life after the war.
A gripping story that provides insight into a much-misunderstood but crucial job." --Kirkus Reviews
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What follows is a suspenseful memoir told in a clear, clipped manner that would make Papa Hemmingway proud. Combat veterans will recognize as authentic Alexander's simple, emotive descriptions of combat operations. Yes, like a rollercoaster, the story's ultimate destination is known. (The raid team's main terrorist quarry, the shadowy "Zafar," doesn't stand a chance.) But knowing this destination won't make the ride any less thrilling.
Of the scores of books that have been published about the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts, Alexander's twin memoirs must rank among the most important. First "How to Break a Terrorist" and now, "Kill or Capture," are unique in that they are not only gripping, page-turning stories, but they are also compelling, insider accounts of what nearly all professional interrogators know but a few tragically forgot during the first couple years of these conflicts: torture doesn't work, or at least, it doesn't work nearly as well as rapport-based interrogation approaches that are based on cultural awareness and cunning rather than cruelty.
Via his own combat-effective example, Alexander convincingly demonstrates that "soft" approaches gather far more intelligence far more efficiently than harsh ones. Plus, unlike brutal approaches that make inveterate enemies of interrogation subjects (and of subjects' friends and family members), humane approaches actually take more insurgents off the battlefield than they create. Most critically, the use of such approaches allows us Americans to remain true to who we are--to hold onto our national soul in the face of that false, ignorant, deluded, and dangerous claim that, to accomplish the mission and "to save lives," Americans must perform dirty deeds.
Alexander is unusually well-suited to convey these truths via memoir. As an Air Force major, Alexander was probably the highest-ranking trained interrogator in Iraq at the time (since the Army does not train its officers to conduct interrogations). Broadening his perspective still further, as an investigator with the Air Force Office of Special Investigations, he had gained valuable experience working with civilian law enforcement agencies. This interagency experience meant that he took with him to Iraq a larger repertoire of lawful techniques than those understood by most military interrogators, a repertoire which in turn enabled him to better demonstrate to his interrogators (and demonstrate today, to his readers) the power of these techniques.
Who should read this book? Like Alexander's earlier book, "Kill or Capture" is a must-read for military interrogators. It should also be on the required reading list of any military unit or school with a good commander who cares about keeping troops on the moral high ground. Furthermore, any American who is interested in the torture debate and wants a better understanding of far more effective alternatives to torture should read it. Lastly, anyone who loves fast-paced, suspenseful, historically vital combat stories should read it.
After all, just like Alexander's first book, this book is simply a damn good read.
--Douglas A. Pryer, Author, The Fight for the High Ground: The U.S. Army and Interrogation During Operation Iraqi Freedom, May 2003 - April 2004
his and other gators ways of interrogating suspects without physical abuse, that using knowledge of religion and community,
and that they were actually trying to understand the person they were interrogating would get them to open up and give up information. Of course it didn't work every time but statistics seemed to show it works better than abuse does. Matthew is a very good writer and once started I read through this book very quickly.Recommend to people interested in interrogation techniques.
has the understanding of the philosophy, customs & values of the people he is dealing with. He recognises that even the most hardened Taliban has deep love for wife & family. He understands thier sense of Honor & uses all of these through a competent, cooperative interpretor to track the path to his prey. It is strong counterpoint to torture of people, several years after capture. Torture provides deep satisfaction to many (even in "high" places), that has nothing to do with obtaining timely, useful inteligence.