Ali Soufan Interviewed by Newsweek: Torture, The CIA and Hulu’s ‘The Looming Tower’: An Interview With Ali Soufan 
March 19, 2018

Torture, The CIA and Hulu’s ‘The Looming Tower’: An Interview With Ali Soufan 

By:  Jeff Stein


illustration By Britt Spencer


It’s easy to understand why Hulu would turn Lawrence Wright’s Pulitzer Prize–winning book, The Looming Tower, into a TV series. Published in 2006, his deep-dive account of the long history of Middle Eastern politics and Islamic militant rivalries that culminated in the birth of Al-Qaeda was eminently cinematic. The result is a gripping 10-episode adaptation, which began streaming on February 28. The series concentrates on the poisonous FBI-CIA rivalries and the feckless policies of two administrations—policies that effectively provided Osama bin Laden’s militant network with an opportunity.

As the 9/11 plot developed in America in the summer of 2001, one of the leading FBI agents assigned to stop it was Lebanese-born Ali Soufan (played by Tahar Rahim). As the series unfolds, he and his boss, John O’Neill (Jeff Daniels), encounter CIA resistance to sharing information on Al-Qaeda militants who have slipped into the U.S. The CIA’s behavior is just one of the enduring mysteries explored in the docudrama.

“There was never true accountability for the failure to prevent 9/11,” says Soufan, now CEO of a private intelligence company. “Hopefully, this show can bring some understanding to what happened and put us closer to closure …”



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