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The Age of Sacred Terror Paperback – 14 Oct 2003


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Product details

  • Paperback: 560 pages
  • Publisher: Random House Trade Paperbacks (14 Oct. 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0812969847
  • ISBN-13: 978-0812969849
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 3 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,181,498 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

The Age of Sacred Terror In this "New York Times" and "Washington Post" Notable Book, two former directors of the White House's counter-terrorism program offer the definitive look at radical Islam's war against America, from its earliest origins to the long struggle that lies ahead. Full description

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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By M. D Roberts VINE VOICE on 15 Nov. 2003
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This excellent and very timely study will grip the reader from the very first page.
At the beginning of this book we are presented with the demands of Islamic terrorists at the time of the first terrorist attack on the World Trade Centre.
These being the cessation of all US military, economic & political aid to Israel and the suspension of all diplomatic relations with the Jewish state. This tied in with a demand for non-interference with the interior affairs of any Middle East country. The book showing that in other words, the Arab/Islamic world must be left alone, unhindered, to complete it's declared agenda of the eradication of Israel from it's midst.
Whilst this book provides an excellent outline of the rise of Osama bin Laden, radical Islam and al-Qaeda, and examining the mindset and agenda of the Islamic terrorist, this abiding principle of hatred towards the Jewish state, it's continued existence & a hostile malevolence towards all those who would support it, is clearly foundational to all the terrorist entities referred to.
Early on the book succeeds in detailing the events & political failures before September 11th atrocities which should have led the US Government, the West & it's Intelligence Agencies to be more vigilant and effective in detecting & preventing the forthcoming attacks of September 11th. The writers make their points very professionally and eloquently.
The writers, both former directors of counter-terrorism within the US National Security Council have also provided an excellent study & insight into why Islamic terrorists are prepared to murder an infinite number of innocent civilians in pursuit of their goal of destroying Israel and their global agenda of Islamic expansion.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Michael Wells Glueck on 13 Dec. 2002
Format: Hardcover
This work analyses the radical Islamic sense of compressed time, in which past events, no matter how remote, retain an emotional and religious immediacy that motivates the planning and execution of fresh acts of terror against civilian targets in Israel, America ("the far enemy"), and the West which will continue to be characterized by a barbarity that makes sharia (Koranic law) look civilized by comparison. The Age of Sacred Terror traces the fanatic dedication of such Islamists (whose numbers appear staggeringly large) to precipitating the decline and fall of what they regard as the American global empire, as well as their determination to survive Armageddon and to hasten its arrival by slaughtering the infidels (primarily Christians and Jews) whose existential focus offends their belief in the ultimate reality of a hereafter populated only by devout Muslims. And the book offers prescriptions for concerted governmental efforts to prevent or at least to forestall future terrorist attacks with weapons of mass destruction. Compellingly written with a judicious use of elucidative metaphor, this fascinating work achieves a clarity that seems effortlessly to hasten the reader on to its final pages.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Michael Wells Glueck on 1 Dec. 2002
Format: Hardcover
The Age of Sacred Terror explores the radical Islamic sense of compressed time, in which past events, no matter how remote, retain an emotional and religious immediacy that motivates the planning and execution of fresh acts of terror against civilian targets in Israel, America (“the far enemy”), and the West which will continue to be characterized by a barbarity that makes sharia (Koranic law) look civilized by comparison. The work traces the fanatic dedication of such Islamists (whose numbers appear staggeringly large) to precipitating the decline and fall of what they regard as the American global empire, as well as their determination to survive Armageddon and to hasten its arrival by slaughtering the infidels (primarily Christians and Jews) whose existential focus offends their belief in the ultimate reality of a hereafter populated only by devout Muslims. And the book offers prescriptions for concerted governmental efforts to prevent or at least to forestall future terrorist attacks with weapons of mass destruction. Compellingly written with a judicious use of elucidative metaphor, this fascinating work achieves a clarity that seems effortlessly to hasten the reader on to its final pages.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 42 reviews
59 of 65 people found the following review helpful
Essential guide to the changed face of terrorism 10 Nov. 2002
By Royce E. Buehler - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Benjamin and Simon headed the National Security Council's antiterrorism team during the nineties, and they began this book in 99, hoping to convince a skeptical country that Al-Qaeda was the most serious threat facing the West. They wanted to explain why it represented a new *kind* of terrorism, and a far more dangerous kind.
We no longer need convincing that the threat is real; we need information and perspective. The book they wound up writing is a fountain of both. Still central to its theme and its value is their analysis of what makes Al-Qaeda different. For this new breed of terrorist, strategic considerations will never limit the level of destruction they mete out, because violence is not their tactic to gain some other end. Destruction of the infidel *is* their strategy.
The first half is a crisp, brisk read jammed with vital detail on the history behind radical Islamism. That history, from the Crusades to the Balfour declaration, is ever present before the minds' eye of the terrorists, so it behooves us to know it. These are guys who know how to put together an executive summary. Without a word wasted on horrified emotion, partisan sentiment, or political correctness, they give us the names, the dates, the theologies, the actions that led to the current confrontation. You are unlikely to find a precis of Al-Qaeda's motivations and makeup anywhere as complete, concise, and pertinent.
In particular, Benjamin and Simon give the definitive answer to "why they hate us." Many social, economic, and political factors go into the level of tacit support for Al Qaeda on "the street." But the operatives themselves are motivated entirely by religion, and nothing short of the death of all Jews and the destruction of the West will satisfy them. In one sense it is true that what they peddle is a perversion of Islam. Even the virulently anti-American head of Iran's clergy, Ali Khamenei, condemned the WTC attacks, because the Quran clearly forbids targeting civilians. But at the same time, Al-Qaeda's theological line has very deep historical roots in Islam, tracing back to Wahabbi in the seventeenth century (a version of Islam which Saudi money has recently made dominant through much of Asia), to ibn Taymiyya in the thirteenth century (who held that jihad in the sense of killing unbelievers was more important than any of the traditional five pillars of Islam). And ibn Taymiyya was a kind of Reformation figure; in his exaltation of jihad, he was rejecting all of the Islamic scholarship of the preceding five centuries, and trying to return to a kind of 'sola scriptura' depending only on the Quran and the hadith, in which with one ill attested exception there was no concept of a "greater" or "inner" jihad. It is difficult for moderate Muslims to mount a theological response to the jihaddists, especially when the "ulemas", the scholarly establishment within each Muslim country, are so closely identified with governments that are repressive, or dismissive of sharia law, or both.
The second part talks about the developing awareness of the problem in the U.S. through the nineties, and all of the obstacles that prevented sufficient mobilization. This is less important for most of us to know than the preceding material, but the authors' position as insiders, especially in the light of partisan blame tactics sometimes used on both sides, more or less obligated them to assess that history.
The two most important obstacles were: (1) a mindset that saw terrorism as a tactical tool used by rogue states or liberation movements, and smugly imagined that Al-Qaeda was just more of the same. At its top levels, the Clinton administration got over this hump by 1995; and the Bush administration, initially convinced that Al-Qaeda was a minor annoyance that Clinton had blown out of proportion, climbed a steep learning curve and changed its mind by the summer of 2001. (2) The difficulty of making the sense of urgency in either administration trickle down through the federal bureaucracy, in the absence of any media appreciation of the seriousness of the threat. The only way to overcome the enormous inertia of Treasury, State, and FBI would have been to share the information that, to avoid compromising intelligence, the cabinet and NSC level people had to keep close to their chests. September 11 did a great deal to put both problems to rest, but the book warns that institutional inertia and counterproductive turf wars, especially at the FBI, still pose significant risk.
A third short section assesses the current state of play, and considers short and long term strategies for dealing with terrorism when it springs from a "virtual state" like Al-Qaeda. The outlook is both grim (terrorists *will* sometimes succeed, and civil liberties will be compromised) and hopeful (we have a lot of natural allies, Bush has restored the funding he originally cut for dismantling Soviet nuclear weapons, and Al-Qaeda's attempts to groom operatives who are ethnically western offers a potential handhold for better human intel.)
One warning worth noting: Clearly radical Islamists are the primary threat we face. But the nineties saw the emergence of apocalyptic, religiously motivated terrorists from the fringes of a variety of faiths: Judaism (Gush Emunim's assassinations and plot to dynamite the Al Aqsa mosque), Buddhism (Aum Shunrikyo's nerve gas attacks), and Christianity (Christian Identity, which nurtured Tim McVeigh and a phalanx of imitators, so far less successful.) We will have to keep our eyes open.
52 of 60 people found the following review helpful
Nothing Is Sacred Any More ! 19 Jan. 2003
By M. D Roberts - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
At the beginning of this book we are presented with the demands of Islamic terrorists at the time of the first terrorist attack on the World Trade Centre.
These being the cessation of all US military, economic & political aid to Israel and the suspension of all diplomatic relations with the Jewish state. This tied in with a demand for non-interference with the interior affairs of any Middle East country. In other words, the Arab/Islamic world must be left alone, unhindered, to complete it's declared agenda of the eradication of Israel from it's midst.
Whilst this book provides an excellent outline of the rise of Osama bin Laden, radical Islam and al-Qaeda, and examining the mindset and agenda of the Islamic terrorist, this abiding principle of hatred towards the Jewish state, it's continued existence & a hostile malevolence towards all those who would support it, is clearly foundational to all the terrorist entities referred to.
Early on the book succeeds in detailing the events & political failures before September 11th atrocities which should have led the US Government, the West & it's Intelligence Agencies to be more vigilant and effective in detecting & preventing the forthcoming attacks of September 11th. The writers make their points very professionally and eloquently.
The writers, both former directors of counter-terrorism within the US National Security Council have also provided an excellent study & insight into why Islamic terrorists are prepared to murder an infinite number of innocent civilians in pursuit of their goal of destroying Israel and their global agenda of Islamic expansion.
One is left in no doubt that should these Islamic terrorists obtain nuclear/chemical weapons of mass destruction, then they would indeed be prepared to use them to obtain their goals.
In the Middle East, with hindsight, the Palestinian terrorist groups were perhaps themselves testing out a whole new form of warfare, using their own suicide bombers, with individuals strapping explosives to their bodies in order to murder and maim innocent Israeli civilians to achieve their political aims. Subsequent sympathetic attitudes within the International community revealing that such methods could indeed be exploited for political purposes, even when fellow Muslims were seen publicly celebrating such atrocities en masse. A savage foretaste of what was to come after the horrific atrocities in the USA.
Hiding behind the mantle of respectability and the soft underbelly of Western human rights, recent events and the disclosures in this book disturbingly reveal that virtually every Muslim/Arab is now a potential suicide bomber capable of inflicting enormous civilian casualties. Nothing is sacred any more !!! The writers reveal quite convincingly that al-Qaeda, it's operatives and supporters are far, far more capable, dangerous and widespread than ever previously thought.
The West has backed itself into a corner. Anyone who criticises Islam and it's history or agenda is now labelled intolerant and ostracised, yet toleration by Muslim entities of Christians or Jews is virtually non-existent under Islamic regimes.
Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and Syria are all shown to openly support Islamic terrorist groups. Yet some of these nations pay lip-service to supporting the US against the same terrorist and entities which they themselves finance, harbour and support, including training, supplying weapons and ammunition, and providing logistical support and intelligence reports of their own.
One is left to conclude that there is NO political solution to terrorism and that one cannot negotiate with such a religious fervour which permeates those who perpetrated the attacks in New York & the Pentagon. It is clear that ignoring the religious element in seeking political solutions to matters such as the Arab-Israeli issue has been erroneous. When negotiations are called for, the radical Islamic mindset is already made up...it is either their way or else. Any `peace' agreements are transient & temporary, until a more `final' solution can be found that serves their agenda.
The forceful impression left upon reading this book is that al-Qaeda and it's kindred Islamic terrorist groups are motivated primarily by religion, and nothing short of the death of all Jews and the destruction of the West will satisfy them. If you are in any doubt as to whether we are in a war before you read this book, by the time you finish it, your mind will be made up.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Terror warnings from experts 31 Mar. 2003
By J. J. Kwashnak - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Benjamin and Simon bring to the table substantial experience in counterterrorism and the roots of terrorism in the Middle East. This book was timely after September 11th, and is even more so now that we are engaged in war in Iraq. Realizing that the typical reader has only limited experience with Islam, and with the Middle East, they start off exploring the ideological foundation built by Ibn Taymiyya. From this Islamic fundamentalist, others through the years have picked up the torch of activism and hatred of the west. The most striking recent example is Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda. They write how bin Laden's hatred towards the west comes from his views of Islam, and many of the terrorists who participate are motivated by religion. And because of this their writings have been controversial.
Much of the danger of terrorism today comes from Islamic fundamentalists, it is not Islam that is the root of the problem, it is the way it is used by these terrorists as justification of activity. This fanaticism is not limited to the Islamic world. One has to only look at the domestic news of Christian fundamentalists murdering doctors and blowing up abortion clinics in the name of God. And once we get past this view we can look at the historical development of anti-American terror, and realize that this is just the beginning. The authors demonstrate that al-Qaeda is a master of taking the attacks steps further than in the past, showing coordinated timing and planning of attacks as demonstrated with the embassy bombings in Nairobi and Tanzania. This book presents a clear eyed view of the terrorist dangers that appear in the world today and how the ideology driving terror has shifted to fulfilling the "will of God (Allah)."
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
THE book that every American ought to read. 23 Nov. 2002
By Dennis C. Graves - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A cliche, yes, but this actually is a book that every American ought to read. The Book explains radical Islam and details the events before 9/11 that should have led our government, particularly the FBI, to be more vigilant and effective. The Authors convincingly explain that Al-qaeda is far more capable, widespread, and dangerous than most of us could have imagined. Indeed, the threat has diminished little after 9/11 and our efforts in Afghanistan. The Authors demonstrate that we quickly need to surmount special interests and competing bureaucracies in order to prevent terrorist attacks and protect our population from the consequences of the attacks that inevitably will be successful (eg., protection from the horrific and very real threat of biological attacks). At stake are a great many lives, and perhaps even our way of life. Read this book. Better yet, get your legislators to read it.
18 of 22 people found the following review helpful
The Age of Sacred Terror 18 Oct. 2002
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Benjamin and Simon give an in depth review of the last decade regarding the rise of terrorism in the US. The apparent failure of the FBI to alert the Clinton administration is revealed in shocking detail. The authors express clearly the extent the intelligence network failure and the obvious result which struck the US in 2001. The text is exceedingly readable and flows elegantly. While "The Age of Sacred Terror" is a very erudite and highly detailed work, it maintains a high degree of interest and fasination for the reader. The book fully deserves the 5 star rating.
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