- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 27, 2002

In The War Against The Terror Masters: Why it Happened, Where We Are Now, How We'll Win (St. Martin's, $24.95, 262 pages), Michael A. Ledeen brings his extensive experience in national security affairs to provide a series of provocative and insightful essays on the current terrorist crisis facing us.
Mr. Ledeen explains why the United States was so unprepared for the September 11 catastrophe, particularly the unsuccessful past efforts of U.S. administrations and intelligence services; the nature of the terror network we are fighting including state sponsors, such as Iran and Iraq; the role of radical Islam, as exemplified by Osama bin Laden and his al Qaeda network, and Saudi Arabia, which tolerated such anti-Western activism; and what America must do to win the war against terrorism.
According to Mr. Ledeen, the mistaken assumption by the intelligence community that led to September 11 was that "the near future would resemble the immediate past," and that the decline in terrorist incidents in the late 1990s "had established an ongoing pattern." These assumptions were accompanied by a lack of political will on the part of the country's political leadership, which resulted in a "vicious circle" in which, "[t]here was no policy to drive the intelligence, and the intelligence was insufficient to drive policy."
Mr. Ledeen's basic prescription for winning the war against terrorism is to act decisively and quickly against our adversaries. However, it involves a highly controversial component that, what he terms the terrorist state sponsor "tyrants" in Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Saudi Arabia must be "brought down," without, however, explaining who would take the place of the incumbent rulers to democratize the region. Another of the book's weaknesses is its insufficient analysis of how Israel's counterterrorism policies contribute to or exacerbate the American battle against terrorism.
Nevertheless, this is an important book because of the insights it offers on what constitutes effective counterterrorism policies.

Shaul Shay's The Endless Jihad: The Mujahidin, the Taliban and Bin Laden (International Policy Institute for Counterterrorism at the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya, Israel, $29.90, 176 pages) is an authoritative and comprehensive analysis of how the radical Islamists, in the form of the Taliban, Osama bin Laden's forces, and other members of the "Afghan alumni" that defeated the Soviets in Afghanistan, spawned an international terrorist jihad that currently threatens their own nations and the West.
Mr. Shay's expertise on this subject is derived from his military intelligence background in the Israeli Defense Forces and his current position as a research fellow at the Institute for Counterterrorism ( www.ict.org), which is one of the world's leading terrorism think tanks.
One of the book's most valuable sections is the country-by-country analysis of the international terrorist network, formed by al Qaeda's operatives, that spans Algeria, Tunisia, Yemen, Egypt, Jordan, Central Asia, the Balkans, and that is directed against the United States and its allies.
Though relatively short and compact, the book reads like an intelligence agency briefing with many sections highlighted by bullet points, matrices and diagrams pithy observations that illuminate complex issues.

Through Our Enemies' Eyes: Osama Bin Laden, Radical Islam, and the Future of America (Brassey's, $29.95, 394 pages) is a highly informative analysis of how Osama bin Laden and the al Qaeda network evolved over the years to become a first order of magnitude threat to America. The author is a senior U.S. intelligence official, with nearly two decades of experience in national security issues related to Afghanistan and South Asia, who prefers to remain "anonymous." His extensive experience and knowledge of the region are displayed in his discussion of bin Laden's background and character traits, his organizational talents in forming and expanding al Qaeda operational reach and in using his diplomatic skills to provide it safe haven in Sudan and then in Afghanistan.
One of the book's most valuable chapters is an analysis of what to expect from al Qaeda in terms of possible new attack locations, such as Germany (in revenge for arresting its operatives), new types of revenge attacks, such as killing or kidnapping American government officials and civilians, and the possibility, in case of bin Laden's demise, of his Saudi and Egyptian peers taking over al Qaeda's leadership reins to further perpetuate his catastrophic terrorism.

Jane Corbin's Al-Qaeda: In Search of the Terror Network that Threatens the World (Thunder's Mouth Press/Nation Books, $24.95, 315 pages) is a trenchant study of how al Qaeda succeeded in evolving from its Saudi Arabian and Afghanistan roots in the 1980s to become the world's preeminent and most lethal terrorist network. The author is the British Broadcasting Corporation's senior correspondent specializing in the Middle East and terrorism, and she crafts her narrative with the dramatic skills of a top spy novelist.
After four years of research and interviews, involving travel throughout four continents, including Afghanistan and Sudan, the author traces al Qaeda's roots to its jihad against the Soviets in Afghanistan, explores how the network evolved its terrorist tradecraft through the specialized skills that its operatives acquired at the group's training camps in Afghanistan, which enabled them to evade the radar of Western nations' intelligence services.
The author describes in great detail the unfolding plot to carry out the horrific attacks of September 11 and the ensuing American military counteraction in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
In the final chapter, she speculates on al Qaeda's organizational future and likely warfare and concludes that even if bin Laden is dead and the writer, like others, is uncertain on this point al Qaeda has retained its organizational capability to spring surprises on the intelligence community.

Joshua Sinai is a senior analyst on terrorism issues at ANSER (Analytic Services). He also teaches a year-round course on "Forecasting Terrorism" at the Internet-based American Military University, and a course on "Forecasting" at George Washington University.


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