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The Search for Al Qaeda: Its Leadership, Ideology, and Future Revised Edition Edition

4.8 out of 5 stars 18 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0815704515
ISBN-10: 0815704518
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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. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Review

"Riedel manages to distill the essence of al Qaeda in just 150 pages."— New York Times Book Review



"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



" The Search for al Qaeda is in parts alarming and in parts reassuring.... In a literature tending towards either the blithe or the fatalistic, Riedel's book stands out."— Financial Times



""[Riedel] understands al Qaeda for what it is: a set of highly effective leaders who have created a compelling narrative (based partly on American missteps in the Muslim world) and a remarkably resilient organizational structure that seduces a small group of young Muslims to destroy in a highly strategic manner."—Eboo Patel, Washington Post "On Faith"



"Provides several sensible recommendations, such as making a renewed effort to settle the festering disputes over Palestine and Kashmir."— The Economist



"The useful information, wide-ranging knowledge, and important insight within this short book are extremely impressive. A reader cannot help thinking that U.S. leaders were well-served by Riedel's analysis throughout his years in government (even in cases where it was not heeded)."— Parameters

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 186 pages
  • Publisher: Brookings Institution Press; Revised Edition edition (February 19, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0815704518
  • ISBN-13: 978-0815704515
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.4 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #628,077 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
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. It offers insight into al Qaeda, such as its structure, goals, history, and tactics to fight against these terrorists. I enjoyed this book very much, and would like to Thank Mr. Riedel for his service. This is a book that deserves to be read in history class from now on, mainly because it highlight how the US started a war, and then abandoned it, which is a mistake that should never be repeated. Mr. Riedel was a key figure in turning the war in Afghanistan around, and probably sparing America another embarrassing fiasco like Viet Nam.
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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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