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Inside Al-Qaeda and the Taliban: Beyond Bin Laden and 9/11

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A brilliant account of the workings of state terrorism by the world’s foremost critic of US imperialism.


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A brilliant account of the workings of state terrorism by the world’s foremost critic of US imperialism.

30 review for Inside Al-Qaeda and the Taliban: Beyond Bin Laden and 9/11

  1. 5 out of 5

    Tariq Mahmood

    I was slightly apprehensive before committing to this book. Will it be any good or will it be yet another clueless, pointless narration of platitudes normally coming out of Pakistani journalists? Maybe this book is only famous because of the mysterious death of its author, allegedly at the hands of the notorious ISI? 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-Qai I was slightly apprehensive before committing to this book. Will it be any good or will it be yet another clueless, pointless narration of platitudes normally coming out of Pakistani journalists? Maybe this book is only famous because of the mysterious death of its author, allegedly at the hands of the notorious ISI? 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. They attracted un-charismatic, stunted and incurably shy boys & girls from smaller cities and villages of the country who wanted to make their mark on the university scene with a bang. IJT provided them a complete platform made of Islamic ideology, purpose in life and most of all a set of defined (very unsavoury) values, which they then used to great effect in order to bully every one else into submission. It's seems only logical that this early taste of power seems to influenced many into politics and media. Wonder why no one else has picked on this very significant development though? Maybe because most for the Pakistanis are in a habit of spending their valuable time listening to these very same media moghuls instead of reading investigative journalists like Saleem Shahzad mainly? And the fact that Saleem Shahzad himself hailed from Europe is a significant fact in the production of this great book. His mostly a-cultural (Pakistani) and lateral nurturing helped him gather these blatant fault lines across the Pakistani political and media scene. Why for instance has Indian bashing suddenly reduced in Pakistani media and the focus turned more inwards towards personal values lately? Could this be a sign in the shift of Islamist ideology of Pakistan towards a more neo-fundamentalist (Al-Qaida) one for instance? This is pure conjecture at my part but time will tell I guess. What is the picture of Pakistani Taliban that emerges from Saleem's book? Al-Qaida builds ideological forts, using opinion as it's ramparts to radicalise a frustrated and disgruntled youth into right action from their deep slumber of vice. They have chosen to specifically revamp the redundant and toothless Islamic movements in Pakistan with their neo-fundamentalist theology with considerable success. Pakistani operations are small scaled localised engagements designed to operationally maintain it's very transient and volunteer based young army. The real design is conquest of Khurasan (Afghanistan) followed by Hind (India) in an attempt to enforce The long standing Islamic prophecy. The fact this all area has ready been part of an 'Islamic' empire is of little consequence. Pakistani army has failed twice to crush the Taliban in the various operations over the years largely due to half hearted tactics and low morale. Maybe the focus should be on opening a new DHA (Defence Housing Society) in order to improve and provide incentive the moral of Pakistani officers? The various partner organisations cropping up in various terrorist attacks in Pakistan are judged entirely on the success of their specific operations. Each new terrorist faction's plan has to work and its resulting effects significant for the organisation to retain its notoriety, otherwise it melts away and is forgotten. This phenomenon is very modern taken from the pages of any prevailing corporation.Actually when you think about it, its better than most corporations s they are getting almost free enthusiasm, vigour and determination of countless volunteers to carry out its dark fantasies. The first batch of suicide bombers included a batch of women widows willing to kill themselves to avenge their Jihadi husbands. Islamic form of Sati I guess. Saleem has presented a fantastic description of the Lal Masjid and Sawat takeover complete with all players, army, Islamists and AlQaida playing their unique roles. Unfortunately, the Pakistan Army has come out as one of the main villains in both these affairs, which definitely should have pissed off a number of army officers and could have resulted in Saleem's death. I have taken one star away due to repetition in the text. The book could have been completed with better editing.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Jibran

    Saleem Shahzad was brutally murdered when he was investigating new generation of Al-Qaeda leaders and their modus operandi in Pakistan and abroad. People in the know and those who were close to the journalist laid blame on the hawks in Pakistani military who were not happy with Shahzad’s investigations. He was perhaps about to uncover some unpalatable truths about Al-Qaeda’s links with some elements of Pakistani military, and for that he payed for his life. This view is lent credence by the fact Saleem Shahzad was brutally murdered when he was investigating new generation of Al-Qaeda leaders and their modus operandi in Pakistan and abroad. People in the know and those who were close to the journalist laid blame on the hawks in Pakistani military who were not happy with Shahzad’s investigations. He was perhaps about to uncover some unpalatable truths about Al-Qaeda’s links with some elements of Pakistani military, and for that he payed for his life. This view is lent credence by the fact that Shahzad received death threats after he refused to back down from his investigative project, and named certain military people as responsible if he’s harmed. Not long after Shahzad’s murder the US troops found and killed Osama bin Laden in 2011. This book chronicles the story of Taliban and Al-Qaeda and the course of action they took when their normal operations were disrupted following the American invasion in 2001. Taliban and their allies retreated to Pakistan’s tribal belt where they were tolerated by Pakistani military. In time the militants regrouped and launched a spectacular Spring Offensive of 2006 in Afghanistan and consolidated their grip in bordering areas. This stunned NATO forces who by that time had written off Taliban as a spent force. Little did they realise that Pakistan’s refusal to sever old ties with militants would turn out to be the main factor in the revival of the Taliban. The book goes into great detail and claims that Pakistan facilitated Afghan Taliban factions and allowed them freedom of action on the condition that they would not engage in violent activities inside the borders of Pakistan. But Pakistan soon understood that armed non-state actors cannot be controlled at will once they acquire enough power and will to defy their masters. A motley bands of home-grown jihadists, who had been hitherto fighting alongside Afghan Taliban in Afghanistan and separatists in Kashmir, turned their weapons on the people and state of Pakistan for offering prima facie support to the US in its War on Terror. Pakistan has burned since 2007 to date and Shahzad, till he was killed in 2011, laid blame on the duplicitous policies of the Pakistan military establishment.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Asad Saleem

    A must read for anyone who wants to gain an insight on the complex realities and events unfolding in the present "Theater of War". And To have the answer to one of the burning question of our time, What plays an impetus for a Radical, who claims to pledge an allegiance to the flag of Islam, to trigger a suicide bomber and kills thousands in a mosque worshiping for that very same Islam.

  4. 4 out of 5

    ahmad afridi

    being in a region effected by worst militancy it was natural for me to take interest in these affairs . in order to understand the state of affairs i became a regular reader of Op-Eds and research journalist of Af-Pak region .that helped me to understand taliban and other non state actors but there was always a piece missing in the jigsaw , role of Al-qaida amidst taliban , different local warlords as well as foreign fighters . this book helped me alot and would recommend to anyone interested in being in a region effected by worst militancy it was natural for me to take interest in these affairs . in order to understand the state of affairs i became a regular reader of Op-Eds and research journalist of Af-Pak region .that helped me to understand taliban and other non state actors but there was always a piece missing in the jigsaw , role of Al-qaida amidst taliban , different local warlords as well as foreign fighters . this book helped me alot and would recommend to anyone interested in ideological foundation and strategies of Al-Qaida . he had very deep links in Al-qaida cadre and the sort of investigative journalism he has done can mask the shortcomings in writing this book i.e continuous repetition . wish he lived so that we could read more of him

  5. 5 out of 5

    Jayantika

    The book is great and is full of undisclosed facts. It gives great insights on how Al-Qaeda has survived even after a head-on collision with the US, the death of Bin Laden etc. It also presents some interesting findings on the Mumbai attack of 26/11. However, I felt at some point that the author is sympathetic towards Major Haroon, one of the key players in the Mumbai attack, but the author also disapproves of the meaningless attacks on civilians. Though throughout the author refrains from passi The book is great and is full of undisclosed facts. It gives great insights on how Al-Qaeda has survived even after a head-on collision with the US, the death of Bin Laden etc. It also presents some interesting findings on the Mumbai attack of 26/11. However, I felt at some point that the author is sympathetic towards Major Haroon, one of the key players in the Mumbai attack, but the author also disapproves of the meaningless attacks on civilians. Though throughout the author refrains from passing any direct judgement and sticks to just presenting the facts. The author was abducted and murdered in May 2011 in Pakistan.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Muhammad Ahmad

    Some excellent first hand reporting in this book, but the analysis is rather weak, and the book could have really benefited from some good editing. It is at least 50 pages too long and highly repetitive. The accounts of operational level Al Qaida operators in fascinating, but Shahzad's attempt to weave their efforts in a supposed over-arching grand-strategy is unconvincing. He is also loose with his labels, frequently making no distinction between local insurgents and global jihadists. A fascina Some excellent first hand reporting in this book, but the analysis is rather weak, and the book could have really benefited from some good editing. It is at least 50 pages too long and highly repetitive. The accounts of operational level Al Qaida operators in fascinating, but Shahzad's attempt to weave their efforts in a supposed over-arching grand-strategy is unconvincing. He is also loose with his labels, frequently making no distinction between local insurgents and global jihadists. A fascinating read nevertheless.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Umair Hashmi

    amazing, super and dangerous book, in the time when Pakistan is fighting with militants, and the Pakistani Mil establishment shut down every piece of info , which shows the fear of Mil Establishment. one should read it, if he wants to understand the AfPak war theater, Pakistan Mil Establishment and its War game.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Faisal Warraich

    The book, whose writer was killed before first Edition. First book by a well-know and insider of Al-qaeda group. This is the book i finished with Tez-Gam speed (fastest train in Pakistan). I just turned the first page and then I cant put it down till the back hard cover.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Rizwan

    There is no doubt that this book is a great accomplishment of the author, Syed Saleem Shehzad, a renowned Pakistani investigative journalist who was murdered in 2011. For me, this book is a missing link on what exactly happened after the US-led coalition forces vindicated the Taliban and Al-Qaeda when they invaded Afghanistan in 2001 and re-emerged in 2006 to launch a new wave of terrorist activities in Afghanistan against the NATO forces and how it firmly established itself in the most geograph There is no doubt that this book is a great accomplishment of the author, Syed Saleem Shehzad, a renowned Pakistani investigative journalist who was murdered in 2011. For me, this book is a missing link on what exactly happened after the US-led coalition forces vindicated the Taliban and Al-Qaeda when they invaded Afghanistan in 2001 and re-emerged in 2006 to launch a new wave of terrorist activities in Afghanistan against the NATO forces and how it firmly established itself in the most geographically inaccessible areas in Pakistan i.e. the Tribal Agencies of Pakistan in North-Western region bordering Afghanistan. This book further tells us that once it had firmly established itself in those areas, it launched a new wave of attacks against the NATO forces in Afghanistan and in Pakistan to keep the Pakistani armed forces occupied in other regions of the country to prevent them fully coordinating with the NATO forces to root out this cancer. So much so that it had a hand in the assassination of pro-Western twice elected former Prime Minister of Pakistan, Benazir Bhutto. At one time, it also managed to create immense tensions between Pakistan and India by 26/11 Mumbai attacks which brought India on verge to attack Pakistan.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Muhammad Moeen

    I read this book when it came out as I occasionally read Saleem' articles. If you want to know why he was killed, just read the book and the last few articles he wrote. The man was a good investigator but people on the top didn't like it at all.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Waseem Arshad

    an incisive study in the jihadist network and pakistan's quagmire. ..

  12. 5 out of 5

    Sami Choudhury

    It was just a bomb. Atom Bomb.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Hashim Hussain

    The writer has put forth his thorough knowledge and written in a very practical manner

  14. 4 out of 5

    Faisal Buzdar

    After reading this book, it becomes quite evident that Saleem Shahzad was a guy who knew too much. So much that it cost him his life. The book centers on the entrenchment of Al-Qaeda in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) of Pakistan and the strategies devised by it in the aftermath of 9/11. Saleem Shahzad provides a detailed account of the growing influence of the Arab militants among the Pashtuns living in the FATA. He also sheds light on the emergence of Tehrik e Taliban Pakistan ( After reading this book, it becomes quite evident that Saleem Shahzad was a guy who knew too much. So much that it cost him his life. The book centers on the entrenchment of Al-Qaeda in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) of Pakistan and the strategies devised by it in the aftermath of 9/11. Saleem Shahzad provides a detailed account of the growing influence of the Arab militants among the Pashtuns living in the FATA. He also sheds light on the emergence of Tehrik e Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and its role in changing the political and strategic dynamics of the areas contiguous to the Afghan border. The author, as he shares it throughout the book, had tremendous access to key leaders in both Al-Qaeda and TTP and would discuss with them at great length their ambitions, missions and operations. He even had contacts with the defected Pak army officers who immensely facilitated the extension of Al-Qaeda's influence to the urban areas of Pakistan. However, the author focuses more on Al-Qaeda's alliance-building and an overview of its operations in Afghanistan and Pakistan and does not sufficiently talk about its structure and support-base abroad. We do not get any idea of how Al-Qaeda raises resources and what means of communication it utilizes to coordinate with various Al-Qaeda franchises around the world. There is a lot of repetition in the book and a number of points are made over and over again. This, sometimes, makes it a painful read. The book can be made a bit more readable if after careful editing all the typos are removed, which one comes across throughout the book.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Mansoor Azam

    The four stars I gave might be misleading but the level of investigating journalism Saleem Shehzad produced specially considering his environments this one surely deserves four. there are major issues as far as the quality of the book is concerned and which will disappoint readers. for starters the whole book is littered with repititions. You read a thing and then after a dozen pages it comes up again and spoils the mood. the writing style is not in the plains of lucidity rather narration gives The four stars I gave might be misleading but the level of investigating journalism Saleem Shehzad produced specially considering his environments this one surely deserves four. there are major issues as far as the quality of the book is concerned and which will disappoint readers. for starters the whole book is littered with repititions. You read a thing and then after a dozen pages it comes up again and spoils the mood. the writing style is not in the plains of lucidity rather narration gives the reader impressions of so many , what I call, speed breakers. Other than that this book is a milestone addition in anyone's library who cares to know about Al Qaiyda , Taliban and the extremist nexus in Pakistan and its borderland with Afghanistan. This gives you a perspective from a die hard reporter in Pakistan who is living the life carrying a critical eye. and when one considers the fact that writer was abducted and killed later on, tragically, this work becomes all the more important. Cuz the way it unearths the nexus of extremists running from terrorist frontlines, to religious seminaries, through intricate web of intelligence agencies, proxies and the link with so called religious elements in our political front. I say its a must read though grossly over priced.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Kamran syed

    Inside Al-Qaeda and the Taliban was written by Saleem Shehzad who was killed by unknown assailants in 2010. The book is mainly based on the broader agenda of Al-Qaeda, who in the eyes of the writer are trying to conceive a pure Islamic kingdom on the earth based on the principles of Islam. The author depicts the story of Al-Qaeda as that of "One thousand and One night tales". In my opinion, though the author has reached to Leaders or more specifically potential leaders but his logic is basically Inside Al-Qaeda and the Taliban was written by Saleem Shehzad who was killed by unknown assailants in 2010. The book is mainly based on the broader agenda of Al-Qaeda, who in the eyes of the writer are trying to conceive a pure Islamic kingdom on the earth based on the principles of Islam. The author depicts the story of Al-Qaeda as that of "One thousand and One night tales". In my opinion, though the author has reached to Leaders or more specifically potential leaders but his logic is basically based on Fantasy. His explanation for Al-Qaeda methodology and events that occured in the course; lacks analysis and logic. It's like reading a self written movie script, in which every thing evolves around a cause and like the way it is expressed in Al-chemist, the whole universe joins the conspirators. The author has not discussed the basis of the problem. His book is full of illogical logics, unnecessary details and many repetitions. If the book would have been given for editing, logical analysis and written with thorough backgrounds, it might have been a good book. In present condition, a thorough reader of the subject can make it out that it might have been finished in 70 pages.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Faisal

    well ...after reading this book i feel the need to read and research more. the facts stated in this book are very unsettling...scary if truth be told. While on the other hand a lot of facts correlate with the events in the past five years. A very thought provoking and insightful book . Being critical i saw a lot of repetition and the chronology is out of sync throughout ...jumping along the timeline. The geographical references get confusing as well.To sum it up , amazingly well reearched full w well ...after reading this book i feel the need to read and research more. the facts stated in this book are very unsettling...scary if truth be told. While on the other hand a lot of facts correlate with the events in the past five years. A very thought provoking and insightful book . Being critical i saw a lot of repetition and the chronology is out of sync throughout ...jumping along the timeline. The geographical references get confusing as well.To sum it up , amazingly well reearched full with scorching and eye opening facts .A must read for pakistanis who want to have information about the current Af-Pak situation.

  18. 5 out of 5

    James Campbell

    The background of this book and it's author peaked my interest, as well as the subject matter too. The author was abducted and murdered, but what everyone suspects were people affiliated with, or close to, the Taliban. This is actually a very interesting read. It is basically a look at how the Taliban operate in the area of the conflict. You get to see how much control they truly do exert, and how difficult it is to try to fight against them. There are many good maps to reference as well. My only n The background of this book and it's author peaked my interest, as well as the subject matter too. The author was abducted and murdered, but what everyone suspects were people affiliated with, or close to, the Taliban. This is actually a very interesting read. It is basically a look at how the Taliban operate in the area of the conflict. You get to see how much control they truly do exert, and how difficult it is to try to fight against them. There are many good maps to reference as well. My only negative relating to this book, is that is, at least for me, rather boring. Therefore making it kind of task to complete.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Muhammad Atif

    Awesome factual report. The chronological order is a bit mixed up but if you are able to set that straight you will get the inside stuff on whats happening around you. Some facts were so scary i was wondering how the author wrote all this and expected no repercussion. Posthumous salute to Saleem.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Asim

    The book provides an in depth study of Al Qaeda and Taliban. A must read for all the players (NATO, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, etc) involved in the Afghan war. Actually it should be made mandatory for anyone involved in strategy making for Afpak. Although some of the chapters are repetitive. The author's untimely death is a big loss.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Shannon Ellsworth

    The author is described as having been both a hostage and a guest of the Taliban and it is quite obvious from his writing that he has had far greater access to the minds behind these terrorist groups that any other authors I have read. Very interesting perspectives and I think a must read for anyone interested in this subject matter.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Shayan

    An interesting hypothesis. But Shahzad's credibility is damaged by his inability to separate fact from fiction. He clearly had access to militants and to much information but he seems to have bought into some of the myths that they were selling.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Fawad Bukhari

    Very informative it will open up ur mind whats exactly the complexity and real background of afghanistan war! Author efforts are evident but i just feel many things are repeated again and Again but definately worth reading!

  24. 4 out of 5

    Sardar

    Nice

  25. 5 out of 5

    Saad

    Height of investigative journalism : Saleem Shahzad

  26. 4 out of 5

    Omer

    A must read for anyone and everyone who wants to understand where AlQaeda is deriving their ideology from, granted that it's a deviant interpretation at the end of day.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Nisar Mastoi

    Red salute to Shaheed Saleem Shahzad What work on the topic beautifully written I wanna say it's a eye opener piece

  28. 4 out of 5

    Jordan

    RIP Saleem

  29. 5 out of 5

    Muhammad Syed

    A great in depth report. Quality read. May Saleem Shahzad is granted the highest order in Jannah.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Lone Survivor

    brilliant description.

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