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on June 20, 2002
After reading numerous books by so-called "terrorism experts," I was worried that the bookshelves would sadly fill with ill-informed literary diarrhea about one of today's most important issues. This book, however, provides a refreshing and skillful account of the rise of bin Ladin and Sunni extremism. Unlike other authors who churn out manuscripts with little substantive experience in the matter on which they are writing, the author obviously works in the intelligence community on counterterrorism issues. Most other books about bin Ladin are nothing more than a collection of warrants and press clippings, but this book provides substantive analysis of bin Ladin's pinnacle role in the rise of global terrorism. This is by far the best book I have read on the subject and I strongly recommend it to anyone who wants to have a better understanding of what the country was facing prior to September 11, 2001. It also provides an alarming look at the current threat posed by al-Qaeda and Sunni extremist elements. If you want an uplifting book about how the U.S. Government safely has its hands around the issue of terrorism, this is not the book for you. If you want to learn about what the country is facing and how menacing and developed this new adversary really is, this is the book for you. It is written for the average reader, it is not an academic opus for the over-educated.
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on January 8, 2003
This is a remarkable book well worth reading by anyone who wants to know how dangerous our opponents are and how difficult the war with terrorism could get. The author is described as "a senior U.S. intelligence officer with nearly two decades of experience in national security issues related to Afghanistan and South Asia." He was forced to publish the book anonymously because it is so different from the pre-September 11 analysis of his employing agency.
His own disgust with the American intelligence bureaucracy is evident in his acknowledgments when he cites Mark Helprin about men who "knowing very little or next to nothing, take pride in telling everyone else what to do." He continues with praise for young civil servants "whose work ethic, intellectual honesty, and personal courage inspire awe and-if unleashed-are more than match for America's foes, foreign or domestic. Too often, however, their work is stymied by senior officers of my own generation. Mostly men, these senior officers have made careers by keeping silent in the face of unfairness, avoiding risk, and refusing to make decisions . . . Fortunately, most of the Republic's younger civil servants recognize with Helprin that this behavior is `more than a pity, more than a disgrace, it is despicable'" (xiv).
The current strategy of focusing narrowly on Al Qaeda, Bin Laden, and body counts "is the road to disaster, for the positions and force bin Laden has presented are a far more lethal and varied threat than that posed by any of those we have labeled as `terrorists' over the past quarter century. The strength of his personality and message is likely to lead to an enduring legacy that will long survive his departure from the scene" (xvii).
"The forces of bin Laden, then, are waging war on America in God's name; they have made it clear that their goal is not the tactical one of inflicting pain, but the strategic one of defeating the United States `in the same way in which the USSR suffered humiliation at the hands of the Afghan and Arab mujahedin in Afghanistan.' In the United States before the events of 11 September 2001, however, there was almost no recognition that bin Laden's war is well under way. The first step in countering the forces that bin Laden has established is to listen more patiently to what he said in the past and to understand the personal, historical, and geopolitical contexts in which he thought, spoke, and acted" (xviii).
Americans will find this book disturbing in part because the author uses American revolutionary war patriots' words to frame each chapter. His point is to drive home that the sincerity and intensity of our founding fathers can be matched by equal intensity and sincerity in Islam. He is arguing that the movement opposing us has a religious fervor, a systematic intensity, and a willingness to learn and use the advantages of a free society to defeat that very freedom.
This is a sobering view of a deeply religious movement with the passionate commitment of those who are doing God's bidding and a willingness to kill Americans by the millions if they can find the right mechanism with which to do it.
Anyone who reads this book will be deeply sobered by it and will reflect on how much bigger and longer our campaign to defeat the Reactionary Islamists will turn out to be.
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on August 18, 2004
This is by far the best of the countless books on Bin Laden (and there are a lot of them...) The author really knows what he is talking about, and since most of it was written BEFORE 9/11 that fact shows all the more why this is so important for every person to read. There is no fancy theorising in this book, and the author also shows that bin Laden really is religious in his motivation - it is his warped interpretation of Islam that is behind all this, and not some ludicrous notion of people hating us for our freedoms. Read it and be truly well informed on the present crisis. Christopher Catherwood, author of CHURCHILL'S FOLLY: HOW WINSTON CHURCHILL CREATED MODERN IRAQ (Carroll and Graf, 2004) and CHRISTIANS MUSLIMS AND ISLAMIC RAGE (Zondervan, 2003)
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on November 22, 2004
This is undoubtedly the finest book on Bin Laden/Al Qaeda out of the countless I have read over the last several years. It is concise, clear, and absolutely terrifying as it makes clear that Al Qaeda is led by an able and charismatic genius who has been able to gather and focus the Muslim world's collective hatred of the United States and our one-sided foreign policy.

The thrust of this treatise is simple. Al Qaeda is smarter than we are (they don't have to win elections and they are not beholden to special interests), they are tougher than we are (aren't you afraid to die?), and they don't care how long it takes to win (Allah is infinitely patient and will be pleased with victory whenever it comes - why does my microwave dinner take so f*&*&%$#$ long to heat up?).

What I found most compelling is that the book is HEAVILY footnoted, quoting Muslim clerics, bin Laden, and other relevant Muslims. So, in other words, it is not some pedantic, crusty white guy lecturing me about why Al Qaeda is evil; rather it is Al Qaeda telling me in their words why they hate me and why they are going to kill me and how all of that is supported by the Koran and driven forward by the ridiculous and inarguably anti-Muslim foreign policy of this, our once great and now downward-trending country.

Whew, what a book. And what a world we live in.
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VINE VOICEon December 28, 2004
I read "Through Our Enemies' Eyes" while on active duty with the Nevada National Guard in the Middle East. I have spent eight years in this part of the world, and Anonymous has pegged the viewpoint of many people in this region concerning the United States and Osama Bin Laden. Opinion here isn't uniform--but the United States is seen as an outsider.

Osama Bin Laden is not a new type of threat. The Assassin cult in this area was also a stateless movement promoting religious conformity to an ideal--and may have been the force that ended the Islamic empire. Then there was another stateless movement of anarchists, the Terrorists, about 100 years ago. The most successful movement went from stateless to world superpower during the period 1830 to 1990--yes, those Cold War foes of the West, the Communists. The Communists were very much a stateless organization until after the Russian Revolution. Once they established themselves as a national government, the threat of Communism changed. That's why Trotsky was murdered in Mexico--he was trying to export revolution the "old fashioned way" like Bin Laden is doing now. Problem: having a homeland means being a target. Stalin had to kill Trotsky in order to save the Soviet Union.

I have purchased several copies of this book as gifts for friends and relatives still serving in military and government office because this is an important book for their professional bookshelves. My one reservation is that the threat posed by Bin Laden's organization (and the greater threat posed by Bin Laden as a symbol) (and the even greater threat of American myopia) is that Bin Laden is not really something new or different. The author may have chosen to portray Bin Laden as "new" because the current American government mindset--the one that foundered in Vietnam--blinds us to reality in the modern world.
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on May 7, 2005
I have read my fair share of books on Osama, the current terrorist threat etc. and I think this book is by far the most detailed and clear view of who Osama is. The author is from the American intelligence community and, like his other book Imperial Hubris, gives you his view of the topic in straight shooter prose that is guaranteed to get your attention. And getting you attention is exactly what this author claims to wants to do. He is extremely concerned about the threat that Osama and his crew of terrorists pose to the United States and about every other western democracy. Along with this concern he is also upset, to the point of despondence, with the somewhat lacking and half measured response that the western countries have so far engaged in. He wants you to know that we have never faced this type of threat and if we do not take our response up multiple levels, we will be rewarded with suffering theretofore not thought of.

During the book I found myself wondering if the author did not have some sort of positive view of Osama, after all he talks about the man with almost the same type of respect as say one would talk about our own military heroes. The more I read I came to believe that this respect is not to be confused with admiration, but probably more closely aliened with fear. Probably the same way many people that faced Rommal in battle talked about him. The author believes that there is no more greater threat to the U.S. then Osama and he wants you to believe the same thing. This single mindedness had me wondering if maybe the author was not over stating the case. Could it be possible that Osama is this all knowing, all seeing master terror operator and will be held up as the gold standard for years to come? After all the author is from the American intelligence community and lets remember that these guys missed a few big ones over the past 20 years.

Even though my nature is to be a doubting Thomas, I did finish the book believing most of what the author stated about the threat that Osama posses to he U.S. I share the frustration that the author has with our seemingly misguided and at times half measured response to the threat. This book is important as it provides a very clear and plain spoken review of the dangers we face and is a wake up call for any of our leaders that would rather focus our limited resources in other directions. The last point I left the book with was the hope that either luck will shine on the foolish or that the rumored kidney disease escalates, and the threat from Osama is eliminated before more incident people meet a disastrous outcome.
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on July 25, 2002
I "saw" the author on TV earlier this week (his face disguised and voice altered)and his answers to the ditsy interviewer's questions convinced me to pick up this book. It explains far more than our media ever could about how the hatred we see in the eyes of those Islamic groups came to be, and why America and the West are the targets of their hatred. Many of his fellow Islamics consider Osama bin Laden to be their version of our Revolutionary era leaders - leading them in a just and holy war against a tyrannical government. Yet we see them as "radicals" and "terrorists". If you want a fascinating look at both sides of an issue that will dominate our news and lives for years to come, you cannot do better that Anonymous' "Through Our Enemies Eyes". Here's hoping our own government leaders will read it and absorb some of the knowlege that this book imparts!!!
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on August 1, 2004
An absolutely outstanding book that anyone who wants to find our why the US is facing the threat of terrorism ought to read. However, as long as most Americans think of Bin Laden and his cohorts as simply terrorists and turbaned yahoos, we will not be able to implement policy changes needed to decrease the threat of terrorism. I'm afraid this mindset will persist until many more Americans are killed in terrorist attacks.
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on March 31, 2008
Michael Scheuer wrote an excellent, eye-opening treatise on the mindset of bin Laden and his camp. Indeed, it not only explains their thinking but also is a psychological exposure of the evolution of a a well-raised and kind man into a fanatical extremist. The comparison with American revolutionary heroes - John Bunyan, Thomas Jefferson, Patrick Henry and Thomas Paine - shows that the state of righteous passion is treacherous, for it can easily advance from good into evil. Thus, we read that early in his life those who knew him described him as kind, humble, compassionate and gracious, while others saw him grow into a messianic zealot. Anyone wanting to understand the angry mind of the Arabs and the Islamic world should read what Scheuer enumerated as bin Laden's views of his foes and what he accuses them of: Islam's 1400 years of defensive struggle against the crusading worshippers of the cross; western atheism and barbarism in wars; the economic sanctions against Iraq and the starvation of its children, and so on. It is easy to see how an ill informed and opinionated mind can be beckoned into vengeful and retaliatory rage. Quickly, the eruption of explosive fear will create visions of an infidel predator or of the menacing claws of a hegemonic demon. Quickly also, the self-deception of divine inspiration can evoke Allah's order to slay the pagans wherever they can be found. All this can readily be seen as the derailment of a devoted, passionate and angry mind. Our leaders, who are charged with the handling of the enraged Islamic world will gain invaluable information from Scheuer's perceptive analysis. It is a must-read text for those who wish to avoid making tragic miscalculations.
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on April 11, 2004
Perhaps the mark of an excellent book is that it is worth reading a second time or even a third time. This book is far more than a collection of facts, it offers some real in-depth and seasoned analysis not found elsewhere. It brings into focus the challenges America has to face up to.

The biographical chapters on Osama Bin Laden are excellent. They detail the close relationship the Bin Laden family has to the royal Saudi family, the political and financial connections, Osma Bin Laden's jihad against the Soviets and much more. After reading these chapters I finally began to understand why he is admired by Muslims around the world, why his followers are so loyal to him, and why a twenty-five million dollar reward for information leading to the capture or killing of him might as well be twenty-five cents for all the good it will do---no amount of reward money will bring him in.

This book clearly explains the goals of Osama Bin Laden and why he hates America. Contrary to popular opinion, from both the press and our government, Osama Bin Laden's aims are clear and they are not irrational provided they are viewed through a fundamental Islamic lens. To say that Bin Laden has no demands and simply wants to destroy America is far too simplistic.

I am reminded of the Saudi prince who offered a check for ten million dollars for relief aid after 9/11 to Mayor Giuliani along with the ill timed comment that the U.S. government should re-examine its policies in the Middle East and adopt a more balanced stance toward the Palestinian cause. Mayor Giuliani turned down the money stating: "There is no moral equivalent for this attack." No doubt this is true, but Giuliani's response misses a critical point---Bin Laden and his immediate followers along with millions and millions of Muslims believe there is a moral equivalent. Through Our Enemies' Eyes systematically explains why so many Muslims hold this view and why simply defeating Bin Laden and Al-Qaeda's leadership and crossing off names from a list will not be near enough to make America safe from radical Islamic terrorism.

To defeat one's enemy, one must first understand one's enemy -- this book goes a long way towards this understanding. Two and a half years after 9/11 this book is still the best book I have been able to find on Bin Laden and Radical Islam. This book will make one think.
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