Inside Al-Qaeda and the Taliban: Beyond Bin Laden and 9/11 Paperback – 23 May 2011
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This is a disturbing book. ... Shahzad considers the strategies of al-Qaeda and other radical Islamist movements in terms that are not often heard. (The Times, Iain Finlayson)
Buy Shahzad's book. It tells us what the Pakistani government, whose corruption and brutality Shahzad died to expose, does not want us to know. (Charles Glass, Taki's Magazine)
[Shahzad's] work reporting on terrorism and intelligence issues in Pakistan brought to light the troubles extremism poses to Pakistan's stability. (Hillary Clinton, US Secretary of State)
When Syed Saleem Shahzad talks, I listen. He is the most fearless and reliable journalist covering Pakistan and Afghanistan, and that's why his work is read even in the halls of the Pentagon. No journalist passing through Pakistan should miss an opportunity to talk to him and nobody interested in the region, in Al-Qaeda or in the Taliban can afford to ignore his work. (Nir Rosen, author of 'The Triumph of the Martyrs: A Reporter's Journey Into Occupied Iraq')
Syed Saleem Shahzad has long been able to penetrate the Afghan and Pakistani Taliban organisations in a way that no other journalist has. His unique knowledge and contacts make his writing a 'must read' for anyone who wants to understand those movements. (Gareth Porter, historian and author of 'Perils of Dominance: Imbalance of Power and the Road to War in Vietnam')
Whether it's insights into the plans and ideologues driving Al-Qaeda, the low-down on militants across the Hindu Kush, the Taliban-led Afghan insurgency or political wheeling and dealing, Syed Saleem Shahzad is always first on the trail. The hallmark of his work is his uncompromising impartiality and unblinking courage to follow a story to its conclusion, no matter the dangers or sacrifices involved. (Tony Allison, editor, Asia Times Online)
A path breaking book that enhances considerably our understanding of the complexities of Al-Qaeda. Not only is the author clearly familiar with the personalities that form the top tactical and strategy formulation tier today, but his ability to garner various strands of information due to an impressive field experience in Afghanistan makes it one of the most authentic and thought provoking memoirs that seek to throw light on new terrorist initiatives in the region. (Hameed Haroon, CEO, The Dawn Media Group, Pakistan)
About the Author
Syed Saleem Shahzad (1970-2011) was an investigative reporter who worked as Pakistan Bureau Chief at Asia Times Online. His persistence, courage and reputation allowed him unparalleled access to leaders and fighters in Islamic movements enabling him to secure interviews with figures such as Al-Qaeda commander, Ilyas Kashmiri. He had been both a hostage and a guest of the Taliban, which gave him a unique insight into the organisation's internal structures. He was abducted and killed in Pakistan in May 2011. He left a wife and three children.
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Top Customer Reviews
I needn't have worried, because as soon as I read the introduction to the book it became blatantly obvious that deceased Saleem Shahzad was very intimate with the workings of Al-Qaida and it's Pakistani partner organisations. He was the absolute expert in this subject and this book is a glowing tribute to his achievement.
Journalists like him should have been feated not fated and forgotten like usually done in Pakistan. Check out what's on offer in this great Sheherzad like tale of a very dark 1001 nights version.
What is the strategy of Al-Qaida against the great Satan (USA)? What Islamic prophecy are they trying to fulfil? What type of propaganda have they chosen to spread in order to subvert the Islamist and jihadist organisations towards a singular goal? Who have they chosen to lead this verbal offensive in the Pakistani media? Names of Pakistani soldiers, military personal, political and media icons subversively involved in this quest.
By the very first chapter it became crystal clear why he was killed. The names of his prospective enemies are endless. It is also pretty clear to me why his book is seldom mentioned in the Pakistani media as he accuses 80 percent of the existing anchors as on a belonging to the (IJT) Islami Jamiat-e-Taliba, the student wing of Islamist party akin to the Muslim Brotherhood of Egypt. I have personal experience of the Jamaatis from my students days in Engineering University Lahore.Read more ›
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
He was the first to interview leading commanders of al Qaeda's so-called shadow army, including Siraj Haqqani (leader of the Haqqani network), Ilyas Kashmiri (leader of Brigade 313), Mullah Nazir (South Waziristan), and Qari Ziaur Rahman (Kunar/Nuristan/Bajaur), and countless others.
I have consumed most books published on terrorism in the past decade, but a lot of those books lack insight,
because hardly anybody can venture into the tribal areas of Pakistan.
Syed Saleem Shahzad could.
If anybody knew what is going on in the al Qaeda's capital, it was Syed Saleem Shahzad.
His murder shortly after the publication of this book (possibly by the infamous Pakistani intelligence agency ISI) only confirms that some people were very worried by his reporting.
Anybody interested in terrorism should consider buying this book.
If you have doubts, read some of his many articles at Asia Times Online: [...]
The critical underlying concepts that the book emphasizes are: 1. that the war in Afghanistan is about global Jihad to rid all Muslim countries of "infidels", especially Palestine, and 2. that Al Qaeda is using Afghanistan as a trap for America to squander its resources and become weaker and more isolated globally. The process of weakening America will enable another generation of Jihadis to fight America over Israel in an "end times" battle for the Levant. So far as this writer can tell, the strategy has been working.
The book is an unintended indictment of US military and diplomatic officials who insisted on the "surge" and extensive operations in the flatlands of Helmand province while most of Al Qaeda and the Taliban leadership stayed in the mountains through which the Durand line passes. In going for what was the easier fight, General Petraeus has had only limited success at securing real estate when he is, in fact, fighting a revolutionary idea.
The book wastes little time on American strategic intentions. Instead, it chronicles the victories, defeats, strategies and ideological development of Al Qaeda and the Taliban that the late author likens to a "1001 nights" tale. And what a tale it is! From the dreamy, heady days after the Soviet defeat to only a few months ago, the author traces many threads other than Bin Laden, who, as it turns out, was not that important to Al Qaeda thinking.
Significant elements of the tale are the present fight to develop a caliphate that stretches from Afghanistan through Central Asia, across Pakistan to all of India. Another element is how the ISI's concept of "strategic depth" backfired and dropped all of Pakistani ISI's military assets, including many of its own military officers and men in the lap of Al Qaeda leadership. The reinvigorated organization is now a truly dangerous international movement.
Only days ago, Ambassador Ryan Crocker promised that America will not "abandon" Afghanistan. As he spoke, Taliban militants infiltrated Kabul and attacked the US Embassy. It was a move that most observers noted could not have taken place without inside help from Karzai's security forces. The suicide attack bore the signature of Al Qaeda which the book reports as having assumed command of the Afghan Taliban. It also has a striking similarity to the '68 Tet attack on the US embassy in Saigon as it was not effective militarily but did highlight the absurdity of the US position in Afghanistan.
While the book is well informed by Al Qaeda and Taliban insiders, I was struck by the numbers of fighters that were claimed by these sources. They are enormous. I believe and hope that they are exaggerated as one might expect, given the sources. In my experience, lopping a zero or two off a given troop strength tends to get to a more real troop size. But the book is absolutely excellent at mapping the goals, methods and strategies of Al Qaeda and the Taliban which are slowly morphing into one organization, led by impressive revolutionaries.
Whatever inaccuracies the book may contain, I seriously doubt that it's far off the mark. Somebody murdered the author for writing it. I don't wonder who.
As an investigative journalist, Shahzad dug deep. He made contact with senior Al-Qaeda members, the Taliban and Pakistani officials. In his book he gives us a clear picture of what is going on inside the Taliban and Al-Qaeda and draws us a map of what to expect in the future.
"Pakistan journalist Syed Saleem Shahzad's body has been found in Sarai Alamgir, about 200 kilometres from Islamabad, Pakistani newspaper Dawn reported. Shahzad, who was the Pakistan bureau chief of Asia Times Online, had gone missing from Islamabad on Sunday evening. Days before his disappearance, Shahzad had authored an article that alleged links between navy officials and Al Qaeda. The report claims that it has been confirmed that his body has been identified and showed signs of torture. Shahzad's car had been found in Sarai Alamgir and a body had also been discovered nearby. Shahzad is the author of the book Inside Al-Qaeda and the Taliban: Beyond Bin Laden and 9/11, which is to be released this month. Earlier, the journalist community pointed fingers at intelligence agencies, expressing suspicion they might have picked him up because of his critical stance towards the Army."
One can only hope that he did not meet an end as grisly as that of Daniel Pearl.
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