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A book that will change the way we think about al-Qaeda, intelligence, and the events that forever changed America. On September 11, 2001, FBI Special Agent Ali H. Soufan was handed a secret file. Had he received it months earlier--when it was requested--the attacks on New York and Washington could have been prevented. During his time on the front lines, Soufan helped thwart plots around the world and elicited some of the most important confessions from terrorists in the war against al-Qaeda--without laying so much as a hand on them. Most of these stories have never been reported before, and never by anyone with such intimate firsthand knowledge. This narrative account of America's successes and failures against al-Qaeda is essential to an understanding of the terrorist group. We are taken into hideouts and interrogation rooms. We have a ringside seat at bin Laden's personal celebration of the 9/11 bombings. Such riveting details show us not only how terrorists think and operate but also how they can be beaten and brought to justice.
Soufan worked as a former special agent for the FBI, and this book is a first-person chronicle of his work in the war against al-Qaeda, especially after the World Trade Center attacks in 2001. He starts before those attacks though, with the formation of the organization itself in the 1990s and the attack on the USS Cole. He spends the chapters after this preliminary account on the 9/11 attacks themselves, high valued detainees, the final missions leading up to Osama bin Laden's capture, and what he calls successes and failures. In particular, he notes the inefficacy of torture and aggressive approaches. Throughout the book he maintains allegiance to the FBI and USA, and opens with a note disclosing that this is an FBI and CIA approved story, which he "would have submitted . . . . for review even if [he] had no legal obligation to do so. " To that end, names and sections of text are occasionally blacked out. There is a co-author, Daniel Freedman, but he is only briefly mentioned in the acknowledgements. There is no index, but there is a glossary of "principal characters" and a basic bibliography.