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The Jihad Next Door: The Lackawanna Six and Rough Justice in an Age of Terror Hardcover – 3 Oct 2007

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About the Author

Dina Temple-Raston is the author of Justice in the Grass (Simon & Schuster, 978-0743251105) and the critically acclaimed A Death in Texas. She lives in New York City.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 10 reviews
20 of 26 people found the following review helpful
Confused Theme 30 Sep 2007
By C. Bolton - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
My overall evaluation of this book is stated in the title of this review. The author doesn't develop one theme throughout this book, but jumps around between several different themes. Worse, some of these themes have merit and some don't. Some examples:

Theme 1: The Yemenite community in Lackawanna was typical of an ethnic/immigrant community anywhere in America in the past 100 years until this incident and its fallout. - One wishes this were true, but apparently it isn't, and Temple-Raston herself can't help but note things like this community's general celebration of the attack on the U.S. Cole (p.30), their insularity, the susceptibility of their youth to religious radicals, and their celebration of the escape of one of the "6" [really 9] from Yemenite authorities. Comparing this with the "illegal" Mexican-American community where I live, I don't see any similarity at all. My Mexican-American neighbors are rabidly pro-American [curiously, even when being chased by Homeland Security] and would like nothing better than for the U.S. model to be emulated everywhere.

Theme 2: The 6 [or 9] were just young alienated youth who really weren't at all interested in terrorism, but just wanted "to belong" and reaffirm their ethnic identity. They were misled into going to the Al Queda camps under the guise that they would be training to fight Russians and Serbs, not Americans. It was "an adventure" for the 9, not a serious taking up of arms. - The author adduces some evidence for this theme, but then, again, notes facts like the Lackawanna youth who ended up staying in the Middle East clearly declared to his fellows that he wanted to be a martyr and die for the cause. [One wonders why things were so clear to this young man but purportedly weren't at all clear to the other 8.] By the time that most of these youth had declared that the life of a Jihad warrior wasn't for them, it had been made clear to all 9 [if it wasn't crystal clear before - and it should have been crystal clear before] that the enemy was the U.S. and Israel, not the Russians and the Serbs. But was that their motivation for leaving the camp, or was their motivation that they didn't REALLY want to dedicate their lives and future to a cause, even the cause of "defending" fellow Muslims? The author doesn't seem to really know.

Theme 3: America is turning into a police state and giving up basic civil liberties gained from hundreds of years of struggle against tyranny. - This is the theme the author should have been emphasizing to start with and returning to throughout the book, yet she doesn't really get around to it until Chapter 14. The simple fact of the matter is that, although the 6 [or 9] may not have been, and may not be, very good Americans, they would not have been criminals under our laws of 50 years ago. They didn't actually DO anything to harm other Americans or their property. They would have had the same standing under previous American law as those people who were members of the German American Bund [or Henry Ford] before WWII [disgusting people, but not people we want littering our jails for their stupid views] But somehow the author seems "fuzzy" about this very basic point until nearly the end of her book.

So my evaluation is simple: Buy this book if you want somewhat disjointed sketches of the lives and some of the surroundings of the 6, with little more. Don't buy it if you are looking for a case study of this incident to accompany the many fine more theoretical studies of the loss of our civil liberties. You might borrow it from a friend and read Chapter 14, but if you are a civil libertarian there is not a lot more in the book to interest you.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Solid, but wanting in some ways 16 July 2008
By S. J. Snyder - Published on
Format: Hardcover
I was on the 3-4 star borderline with this, and ultimately went down a star for two reasons. One is that enough people will 4- or 5-star it anyway. The other, more importantly, is that given Temple-Raston's background and experience, she could have done more.

One main thing lacking? More conversation with the group's lawyers. T-R never even names the lawyer for Faysal Galab, the first of the Six to plead, despite the Six's lawyers' pledge not to cut separate deals.

Second, the "ideological detonators" chapter was only loosely connected with the rest of the book; and, it was too short to go into enough depth on this issue.

Above all (and there may be government restrictions on this), interviews with the Six themselves are skimpy. But, if T-R couldn't interview them, she could have talked more with the families.

Or, what about Needham? Or somebody off the record out of the Buffalo FBI office? Or a retired agent from that office?

If you're going to write about the "detonators," anyway, you should, I would think, do more analysis of effective or ineffective FBI tactics are.

Part of me feels like reviewer B. Colson, too; continuity was sometimes hard to come by in the book.

The book does do a decent background setting of Lackawanna itself, as well as with Yemen.

In short, this is probably a good starter book about the anomie of second- or third-generation immigrant Muslim-Americans, but only a starter book.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
The Lackawanna charges were dropped for lack of evidence 27 Mar 2012
By Truth Insister - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Dina Temple-Raston's assertions have been found to be untrue. Watch BBC's top filmmaker Adam Curtis' wildly entertaining documentary on this: Part 3 of The Power of Nightmares (google it.) Listen from 28 minutes to 35:30. (The 28-min mark starts with the supposed Detroit sleeper cell.) There was no evidence of terrorism, or even criminality, according to officials involved with the Lackawanna case. In the end, all terrorism charges were "quietly dropped." The kids, instead, were charged with having gone to a training camp and buying uniforms, but Bush used the fear of home-grown terrorists and the wildly false stories to extend The Patriot Act.

Temple-Raston should have issued a retraction, or updated her book to reflect the truth. This does not add to the historical record as an example of anything other than how a journalist got fooled. Ralston apparently took Reporting 101 at J School. She should know better.

P.S. Adam Curtis' documentary is banned here. PBS refuses to broadcast it. Everyone who cares about this republic should watch Part 3. Bring popcorn and invite the family; I guarantee you won't be disappointed. [You can also buy from Amazon.]
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Valuable resource 3 Mar 2010
By L. Morgan - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I found this book to be a valuable resource on the Lackawanna 6 and homegrown terrorism in general. Temple-Raston went to great lengths to tell this story in a reliable and factual way. I felt that her writing was very objective - she was not overly sympathetic, nor did she make the Lackawanna 6 out to be monsters. Her careful citations of facts were appreciated. With that being said, this was not a dry read like so many books that get bogged down by the facts and citations. The writing and storytelling was immaculate - I could not put this book down and kept wanting to know more. A must-read for anyone wanting to understand the phenomenon of homegrown terrorism.
9 of 14 people found the following review helpful
A Thought-Provoking Page Turner... 16 Sep 2007
By Jean Strauss - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Dina Temple-Raston is a superb writer. Her books read like novels, tackling some of the most critical issues of our time: racism ("A Death in Texas"), genocide ("Justice on the Grass"), and now with "The Jihad Next Door", the question of whether homeland civil rights and justice can survive in an age of terrorism. With her unique and compelling writing style, Temple-Raston allows a reader to come to his or her own conclusions about the issues she tackles, and perhaps this is her greatest strength: she trusts in the intelligence of her readers. "The Jihad Next Door" is a page turner - and the best book I've read to date on the roots of fundamentalist Islam in America and the dangers our justice system has faced since 9//11.
If you only have time to read a handful of books this year, make this one of them...
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