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For now, nothing should distract us from pursuing the War on Islamic fundamentalist terrorism, and looking back to see what went wrong in the past would surely derail our current efforts.   If nothing else, the presence of the last president's wife in the Senate, the second to last president's son in the White House, and the senate campaign of the former Attorney General would all seem to guarantee that any hearings on the matter would quickly degenerate into blame shifting and partisan bickering.  But when you read this book and realize exactly how much even an independent journalist was able to uncover about Osama bin Laden and the Al Qaeda network and their ongoing plans to attack the West, you will find yourself first becoming infuriated and then demanding that someone in government, perhaps many people in government, be punished for the monumental lapse in National Security that allowed the 9/11 attack to occur.

In The New Jackals, Simon Reeve tackles a topic that at the time sparked so little interest that the book was published by a university press, the February 26, 1993 truck-bombing of the World Trade Center.  Thanks to one great piece of luck, the quick discovery of a piece of the truck which made identification possible, and the incredible stupidity of one of the plotters, who infamously returned to the truck rental place to get back his deposit, authorities were able to determine those responsible for the blast in fairly rapid fashion.  But tracking down Ramzi Yousef, the gifted bomb-maker who pulled off the attack and who planned many more in the future, proved much more difficult, as he had already fled back to the Middle East.  His trail led throughout the Muslim world, from Kuwait to the Philippines to Pakistan, and it is a testament to the doggedness with which the professionals of the FBI pursued him that he was eventually captured and returned to the States to stand trial.

Mr. Reeve not only provides the details of the investigation and subsequent trial, he also gives a complete biographical sketch of Yousef and off the man who it turns out what behind the scenes, providing guidance and training to Yousef and his cohorts, Osama bin Laden.  No one reading this book would ever kid themselves that bin Laden and the determined band of fanatics he had assembled would have let the matter drop after this first failed attempt.  In one of the most chilling moments in the book, Mr. Reeve relates the scene as Yousef is helicoptered towards New York City, after his arrest, riding with William Gavin of the FBI :

    The chopper took off at 8:55p.m., circled the field and then headed off towards Manhattan.  Bill Gavin, the head of the FBI in New
    York, sat opposite Yousef, watching his blindfolded young charge.  The Sikorsky followed the Hudson River towards the southern tip
    of Manhattan, and rounded the proud towers of the World Trade Center at a height of 600ft.  Gavin leant forward and eased Yousef's
    blindfold away from his eyes.  'Look down there,' he said to Yousef, gesturing towards the twin towers.  'They're still standing.'
    Yousef squinted and looked out of the window.  'They wouldn't be, if I had had enough money and explosives,' he replied defiantly.

As we well know, to our eternal horror, the next time they did indeed have enough explosives.

But the fact that we weren't ready for them raises a number of issues which eventually have to be addressed in the public forum.  Can the Clinton administration seriously have believed that lobbing a few cruise missiles around Afghanistan and the Sudan was going to deter future attacks?  Mr. Reeve, with none of the resources or intelligence gathering capabilities of the American government at his disposal, makes it perfectly apparent that here was a reasonably well organized, very well funded, tactically adept, and deeply motivated, organization that was waging war on the West in general and on the United States in particular.  How is it possible that the Clinton and Bush administrations and the members of Congress responsible for overseeing Defense and Intelligence did not understand this rather basic fact or at least did not treat it with the seriousness which it deserved?  It is the sad fact that much of what appears in this book is old hat to us now, because we've been reading it in the papers ever day, but had a president come forward and laid out only the case that Mr. Reeve makes, never mind any classified information, and announced that he was declaring war on Al Qaeda, while there certainly would have been grumbling, one has to think that the American people would have supported him.  That this was not done, that we were taken unawares, that Al Qaeda was allowed to carry out attacks on us with relative impunity, entitles us to some answers about why not.  In all likelihood, some folks need to lose their jobs, perhaps many people, at the CIA and the State Department and the National Security Council, and maybe at Defense and Justice.  We need sworn testimony from the people who bear responsibility for our failure to adequately respond to the threat that Al Qaeda posed and they, whoever they are, of whichever party, need to resign or be fired.

Of course, that's all water over the dam at this point, but there remains one way in which the book can be used prospectively, rather than retrospectively.  There are a series of points at which we can discern the dangers of handling incidents like the first World Trade Center bombing through normal court channels.  First, Mr. Reeve tells the story of how the Islamic radical who assassinated Meir Kahane in New York City in 1990 escaped the death penalty, after his attorney, William Kuntsler, apparently bewildered the jury.  Second, there's a maddening scene where once Ramzi Yousef was turned over to American law enforcement in Pakistan, he had to be flown nonstop to the States, lest a landing in some other country create extradition problems.  Finally, there's the wealth of information about U. S. intelligence sources and methods that became public over the course of the trial.  All of these factors need to considered as we decide how to handle any terrorists we capture in the future.

Suppose that a jury handed down an "O.J. verdict" and let a terrorist walk, would we allow this?  Suppose Osama bin Laden was being flown from afghanistan to the U.S. and bad weather or engine failure made it advisable to land in France, would we risk the lives of the crew and law enforcement officials on board in order to avoid landing, or would we land and allow France to refuse to extradite him to a country with the death penalty?  Slobodan Milosevic is on trial now and has said he'll seek to have Bill Clinton testify.  How much will we allow terrorists to expose in court, what witnesses are they entitled too?  There are a whole host of questions here that those who reflexively oppose military tribunals appear not to have thought through to their logical conclusions.

Better, more comprehensive, books about Osama and Al Qaeda are sure to come, now that we're all paying attention, but, in the meantime, this one's pretty good.  Be warned though, you'll be infuriated, particularly when Mr. Reeve closes the book by warning that worse is to come, as it did.

(Reviewed:)

Grade: (B+)

  

Websites:

Book-related and General Links:
    -AUTHOR SITE : SimonReeve.co.uk
    -ESSAY : Behind bars but still inspiring terrorism (SIMON REEVE, 15 September 2001, The Age)
    -ESSAY : ÝA new breed of terror : By yesterday evening it was far from clear who was responsible for the devastation in America. But for Simon Reeve, an expert on Islamic terrorism, it echoed the ambitions of the terrorist behind the 1993 attack on the World Trade
Centre, Ramzi Yousef. The finger is also being pointed at the man who financed that attack, America's public enemy number one, Osama bin Laden. Giles Foden examines how Bin Laden and his followers twist Islam to their ends (Simon Reeve and Giles Foden, September 12, 2001, The Guardian)
    -ESSAY : Olympics still haunted by Munich massacre (Simon Reeve, September 4, 2000, Jerusalem Post)
    -ESSAY : Bad Vibrations : Environmentalists believe an underwater sonar system being developed by the US military is destroying the natural sound habitat of whales and wreaking havoc on marine life.
(Simon Reeve, February 2001, Geographical Magazine)
    -ESSAY : Heartless Haven : Switzerland's World War II record is further tarnished as Jews tell of ill treatment after fleeing from
Germany (SIMON REEVE, JANUARY 26, 1998, TIME)
    -INTERVIEW : Simon Reeve (interviewed by Jennifer Byrne, 22/8/00, Australian Broadcasting Corp)
    -AUDIO DISCUSSION : Paul Wilkinson, Simon Reeve and Joseph Fitchett: How to "dismantle" terror? (BBC, September 13, 2001)
    -CHAT : Terror at the Olympics: Simon Reeve (USA Today, Nov. 14, 2000)
    -PROFILE : British journalist recounts Munich Olympics terrorism from several perspectives (Brandon Brady, November 2000, City Beat)
    -REVIEW : of The New Jackals : Ramzi Yousef, Osama Bin Laden, and the Future Of Terrorism By Simon Reeve (Daniel Pipes, The Washington Times)
    -REVIEW : of New Jackals (Ahmed Rashid, Far Eastern Economic Review)
    -BOOK LIST : Giles Foden chooses books on the Afghanistan crisis #1 : The New Jackals (The Guardian)
    -BOOK LIST : What to Read Now (Malcolm Jones, September 29, 2001, NEWSWEEK)

RAMZI YOUSEF:
    -ARCHIVES : "ramzi yousef" (Find Articles)
    -ARCHIVES : "ramzi yousef" (Mag Portal)
    -Ramzi Yousef (Terrorism Files)
    -ARTICLE : Jury convicts 2 in Trade Center blast (November 12, 1997, CNN)
    -Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani's Statement Regarding Today's Sentencing of Terrorist Ramzi Yousef (January 8, 1998)
    -ESSAY : Will Bush learn from the past? Ý(Debbie Schlussel, September 15, 2001, Town Hall)
    -ESSAY : The past as prologue : Ramzi Yousef is in prison for plotting the 1993 World Trade Center bombing -- but we still don't know who he really is, who he might have been working with and what he could tell us about Sept. 11. (Russ Baker, Oct. 29, 2001, Salon)
    -ESSAY : THE WORLD TRADE CENTER BOMB: Who is Ramzi Yousef? And Why It  Matters (Laurie Mylroie, The National Interest, Winter, 1995/96)

OSAMA BIN LADEN  (& Terrorism generally):
    -Hunting bin Laden (PBS Frontline)
    -Osama Bin Laden: Wealth plus Extremism Equals Terrorism (This is re-produced from an interview in May 1998 with JOHN MILLER of ABC NEWS)
    -ESSAY : Holy Warrior Redux (Peter Bergen and Frank Smyth, 09.14.01, New Republic)
    -ESSAY : Inside the Osama Bin Laden Investigation (Steven Emerson)
    -ESSAY : He leaves no message but murder : Osama bin Laden is headed for history's dustbin. Still, his rampage holds a warning for the future. (Mark Bowden, December 16, 2001, Philadelphia Inquirer)
    -ESSAY : Clinton Let Bin Laden Slip Away and Metastasize : Sudan offered up the terrorist and data on his network. The then-president and his advisors didn't respond. (MANSOOR IJAZ, December 5 2001, LA Times)
    -ESSAY : Postmodern Jihad : What Osama bin Laden learned from the Left. (Waller R. Newell, November 2001, Weekly Standard)
    -ESSAY : Gods and monsters : Why do Islamist terrorist groups like al-Qaida and Hamas want to crush the west and destroy Israel?     (Michael Scott Doran, December 8, 2001, The Guardian)
    -ESSAY : TERRORISM AND THE GLOBAL CLASH OF CIVILIZATIONS (Louis Rene
Beres, October 2001, The Maccabean)
    -ESSAY : Don't blame Islam or the United States, says Fareed Zakaria, a Muslim-born American. Arab rulers gave birth to religious terrorists (Times of London)
    -ESSAY : The Deep Intellectual Roots of Islamic Terror (ROBERT WORTH, October 13, 2001, NY Times)
    -ARTICLE : Osama Bert Laden (AMY HARMON, October 14, 2001, NY Times)
    -ARTICLE : Endowments From bin Ladens Prove Awkward (JACQUES STEINBERG, October 3, 2001, NY Times)
    -ESSAY : 'He's mad, you know' - what the Taliban really think of Osama's menÝ: While living among them, Sean Langan found Taliban fighters secretly loathe their leaders and Bin Laden (October 14, 2001, Times of London)
    -PROFILE : Osama, This Is Your Life : A detailed guide to the life and times of al Qaeda financier and puppetmaster Osama bin Laden. (Bo Crader, 10/10/2001Weekly Standard)
    -ESSAY : Number Games : Is the Westís luck about to run out? (John Derbyshire, October 9, 2001, National Review)
    -ESSAY : Bin Laden Adheres to Austere Form of Islam (NEIL MacFARQUHAR, October 7, 2001, NY Times)
    -ESSAY : My Lunch with Osama bin Laden Ý(Rory Nugent, October 2001, Rolling Stone)
    -ESSAY : Nowhere Man : Islam didn't produce Mohamed Atta. He was born of his country's
struggle to reconcile modernity with tradition (Fouad Ajami, October 7, 2001, NY Times)
    -ESSAY : Bin Ladenís Vision Thing Is bin Laden saying that this whole thing is Warren
G. Hardingís fault? (James S. Robbins, , October 8, 2001, National Review)
    -PROFILE : Bin Laden's Journey From Rich Pious Lad to the Mask of Evil (ROBERT D. McFADDEN, September 30, 2001, NY Times)
    -ESSAY : Why this American feels safer (Daniel Pipes, The Jerusalem Post, October 3, 2001)
    -ARTICLE : Terror 'made fortune for Bin Laden' (John Hooper in Berlin, September 23, 2001, The Observer)
    -ESSAY : Idea of the Day :   Islamic Fascism and Diplomacy (Inigo Thomas, Sept. 21, 2001, Slate)
    -ESSAY : The demons that drive terror : Islamist extremists may not be the Nazis of the 21st century but, says Ian Buruma, they share the same need to be victimised (The Guardian, 9/19/01)
    -ESSAY : The Mind Of A Fundamentalist   (Paul Klebnikov, Forbes.com, 09.21.01)
    -ESSAY : Ground Zero and the Saudi connection : Stephen Schwartz on the extreme Islamic sect that inspires Osama bin Laden as well as all Muslim suicide  bombers - and is subsidised by Saudi Arabia (The Spectator)
    -INTERVIEW : Hunting Osama The author of "Black Hawk Down" and "Killing Pablo" says that American special forces have been training to go after bin Laden for years and are more than ready (Max Garrone, Salon)
    -ESSAY : The Roots of Muslim Rage (Bernard Lewis, September 1990, Atlantic Monthly)
    -ESSAY :Analysis: Bin Laden's fatwa (MARTIN WALKER, 16 September
2001 , UPI)
    -ESSAY : Why is Bin Laden still at large? : Terror in America - The man blamed for Tuesday's atrocities has struck America before. The mystery is why the US hasn't simply seized him. Michael Griffin reports (New Stateman)
    -IDEA OF THE DAY : The Man in the Desert (Inigo Thomas, Sept. 14,
2001, Slate)
    -FBI Ten Most Wanted : USAMA BIN LADEN
    -FBI Websites Document Evidence Against Bin Laden
    -PROFILE : Origins of the bin Laden network : After joining the Afghan cause in 1979, Osama bin Laden organized, inspired Islamic radicals worldwide. (Scott Baldauf and Faye Bowers | Staff writers of The Christian Science Monitor)
    -PROFILE : Osama bin Laden: The truth about the world's most wanted man : The truth about the prime suspect for the world's worst terrorist atrocity is shrouded in myth and misinformation. But Chris Blackhurst has gained unprecedented access to private dossiers, friends and family to reveal the real Osama bin Laden (16 September 2001, Independent uk)
    -Federation of American Scientists : Terrorism
    -Political Terrorism Database. This web database was created as a resource on political terrorism and violence. The database is divided up into geographic areas containing an index to each region's
terrorist groups as well as an international terrorism incident database
    -Terrorism Research Center
    -ESSAY : Blowback chronicles : Giles Foden on the murky deals that fuelled international terrorism (September 15, 2001, The Guardian)
    -ESSAY : The Real Threat :  A son amends. (Michael Ledeen, September 18, 2001, National Review)
    -REVIEW : In the name of Islam : The Far Eastern Economic Review takes a look at 'The New Jackals. Ramzi Yousef, Osama Bin Laden and The Future of Terrorism' by Simon Reeve. According to the reviewer, in the first truly original investigative work on the new generation of Islamic fundamentalists and the terrorists they have spawned, Reeve, an investigative reporter for
London's Sunday Times, has broken fresh ground tracking the lives of Yousef and Bin Laden, and explaining the intricate web of alliances and terrorists cells they have established around the world. (The News on Sunday)
    -INTERVIEW : with Michele Zanini : A new breed of terrorism : A security expert says it's time for the U.S. to declare war on those who are waging war on America. (Laura Miller, September 11 2001, Salon)
    -ESSAY : A Former Pakistani Prime Minister Weighs In (Benazir Bhutto, October 19, 2001, Slate)
    -ESSAY : The Changing Face of Terrorism : It's becoming something fundamentally different. (David Greenberg, September 13, 2001, Slate)
    -ESSAY : When Osama Met the Taliban : Who introduced them? Our intelligence "allies," Pakistan's Interservices Intelligence Agency. (Ken Silverstein, October 9, 2001, Slate)
    -ESSAY : The enemy with a thousand faces : In Osama bin Laden, the  U.S. is confronting one of the most stealthy and formidable foes in its history. (Gary Kamiya, Sept. 13, 2001, Salon)
    -INTERVIEW :  Jihad 101 : Q&A with Mark Juergensmeyer (Adam Mazmanian, NY Press)
    -ESSAY : Clinton Has No Clothes : What 9/11 revealed about the ex-president. (Byron York, December 17, 2001, National Review)
    -ESSAY : Supposing bin Laden was Saddam's junior partner : If Iraq was behind all the recent terrorist attacks on the US, says
Alan Judd, will Tony Blair brave the inevitable bloody outcome? (Alan Judd, 12/10/01, Daily Telegraph)
    -ESSAY : The Mosque to Commerce : Bin Laden's special complaint with the World Trade Center (Laurie Kerr, December 28, 2001, Slate)
    -REVIEW : of Holy War, Inc. by Peter Bergen (Laura Miller, Salon)
    -REVIEW : of Holy War, Inc. (Char Simons, CS Monitor)
    -REVIEW : of Holy War, Inc. (Justin Marozzi, Financial Times)
    -REVIEW : of Holy War, Inc. (Malise Ruthven, Times Literary Supplement)
    -REVIEW : of Holy War, Inc. (Steve Weinberg, Denver Post)
    -REVIEW : of Holy War, Inc. by Peter L. Bergen (Marin J. Strmecki, Commentary)
 

SADDAM HUSSEIN :
    -ESSAY : THE IRAQ CONNECTION : Blood Baath (R. James Woolsey, 09.13.01, New Republic)
    -ESSAY : A Saddam connection? : While the world focuses on Osama bin Laden, some experts argue that Iraq was a likely conspirator. (David Neiwert, Sept. 21, 2001, Salon)
    -ESSAY : Osama, Saddam, and the Bombs (David Plotz, September 28, 2001, Slate)
    -ESSAY : The twin towers trail leads to Saddam (DANIEL FINKELSTEIN, OCTOBER 03 2001, Times of London)
    -INTERVIEW : An interview with Laurie Mylroie : Author of Study of Revenge : Saddam Husseinís Unfinished War Against America (American Enterprise Institute)
    -BOOK SUMMARY : Study of Revenge: Saddam Hussein's Unfinished War against America By Laurie Mylroie (AEI)
    -ESSAY : Supposing bin Laden was Saddam's junior partner : If Iraq was behind all the recent terrorist attacks on the US, says
Alan Judd, will Tony Blair brave the inevitable bloody outcome? (Alan Judd, 12/10/01, Daily Telegraph)

GENERAL :
    �-International Association of Counterterrorism Professionals
    -Subcontinent Security Site : SAPRA (Security & Political Risk Analysis) India, New Delhi.
    -TerrorismFiles.org

Comments:

Clive:

The point is that it was public information and none of us cared. We were all at fault.

- oj

- Apr-10-2004, 12:21

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Hmm, this review echoes my feelings on this book. Your military industrial complex hoovers up all available security dollars. If you had spent more money on human intelligence and less on spy satellites you may still have your towers.

Mr Reeve is a very young journalist and his book would make the whole US system look laughable if it wasnt so tragic.

The same kind of thing could happen in the UK but at least we recognise this kind of threat & try to interdict it - our security people often get killed in the process.

Even now we havent seen dramatic resignations or personal suicides that this catastrophic failure of intelligence would have caused in other countries.

Evidently - no one feels responsible for what happened - in the light of the fact that this book was written before 9/11 - this is a truly astonishing indictment of the US system. Everyone has clean hands !

Am I missing something here - someone please tell me !

- Clive

- Apr-10-2004, 12:17

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