Books of The New York Times: A Former F.B.I. Agent on Terrorism Since the Death of Bin Laden
May 30, 2017

A Former F.B.I. Agent on Terrorism Since the Death of Bin Laden


The New York Times
By: Michiko Kakutani



In his revealing and timely new book, “Anatomy of Terror,” the former F.B.I. special agent Ali Soufan compares Al Qaeda and its vicious spinoff, the Islamic State, to the Hydra from Greek mythology: Cut off one head and two more quickly sprout.

More than a decade and a half after Sept. 11, and a half-dozen years after the killing of Osama bin Laden, he writes, “the cancer of bin Ladenism has metastasized across the Middle East and North Africa and beyond, carried by even more virulent vectors.”

“Whereas on 9/11 Al Qaeda had around 400 members,” he goes on, “today it has thousands upon thousands, in franchises and affiliates spread from the shores of the Pacific to Africa’s Atlantic seaboard.” And he notes that bin Laden’s 20-something son Hamza — who “grew up with a fervor for jihad and a determination to follow” in his father’s footsteps — is “being prepared for leadership” with several of his father’s most trusted lieutenants. Meanwhile, the Islamic State has brought mass murder to Iraq and Syria, and conducted or inspired attacks in more than two dozen countries; the group claimed responsibility for last week’s deadly bombing in Manchester, England.

As he did in his best-selling 2011 book, “The Black Banners,” Soufan writes with immense knowledge and authority … “Anatomy of Terror” not only tells a gripping story but is filled with insights that put today’s attacks by the Islamic State and al-Qaeda in perspective with the history and complicated geopolitics of the region …


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