Pakistan and the Mumbai Attacks: The Untold Story (Kindle Single) Kindle Edition
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The best part is, unlike most popular and overly sensationalistic investigative journalism, Mr. Rotella's work (both the book and the documentary) has none of the hype, special effects, millions of dollars in media budget, or a ten day foreplay on the channel sponsoring the event to build up hype on a program that could've been summarized in two minutes. No, Mr. Rotella's work is the entire opposite. It's independent, donor-funded and directed towards public interest. It requires all the resources the former has, but the latter outdoes the former in terms of quality, importance and with the intent of informing everyone.
While this book reads like a sewn together set of stories that were written independently, for $0.99, it's a great price for the entire collection of his work on the subject. Also, as another reviewer here mentioned, it doesn't fully go into the background of all the players involved, it does give you just the right amount of information needed to understand how these things started, developed and manifested into what they ultimately became. Nonetheless, it's a great book. I loved every minute of reading it.
However, I feel that the piece is lacking in both its demonstration of reputability and the depth in which it covers certain topics.
With an article of this length, I'd expect to at least see some footnote references: certainly, not all of the source information could be classified.
While the claim that the ISI was involved in the attacks sounds reasonable, it seems like the report didn't make the most disinterested attempt to establish this appearance. The writer more exposits instances where ISI individuals aided Lashkar, than analyzing how widespread the assistance is. It feels like a list of incitements -- and surely it's helpful that the author put it in chronological order for better reading -- but doesn't try to answer bigger questions. Of course it would be in Lashkar's interest to place agents inside the ISI. What I'm ultimately unconvinced of is that the entire organization is guilty of conspiracy: I'm not at all closed to that being a possibility, but this story hasn't provided the necessary analysis to lessen the skepticism I try to read with.
The general style also feels somewhat non-academic. With any situation of high secrecy like this, there are bound to be multiple versions of events, not just conflicting opinions like "the ISI instrumented the attacks" versus "the ISI was uninvolved and unaware". At the end, the author mentions that there are quite a number of high-up terrorist leaders that remain unknown [from the public's point of view]. While a story is nice to read, I have the feeling that the possibilities are more vague than the cast of characters including Mir, Headley, etc.
[depth of writing]
While it's perhaps beyond the scope of the article, I don't feel that there is proper context for the Jihadis: they are presented as extremists, without proper exposition on how those extremist tendencies grew out of their environment. What elements, like poverty, social conservatism, and culture of young males contributed to their actions? Religion is not enough to explain religious fanaticism. Having recently finished Thomas Goltz' Chechnya Diary, I can imagine how reading an account of the Moscow theatre hostage crisis could lead to significant misunderstandings of a people.
Similarly, while clearly the US intelligence agencies missed many warning signals, the article doesn't explore why these signify a broken system. I imagine there's a lot of signal-to-noise, and a million things to coordinate in distributing intelligence effectively. Questions like, "Did Headley's former DEA informant or American citizen status cause signals to be ignored?", or "Was Headley's wife taken less seriously than she should have been, because she was a woman?" are not explored.
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