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Between 1994 and 2000, Omar Nasiri worked as a secret agent for Europe’s top foreign intelligence services - including France’s DGSE ( Direction Générale de la Sécurité Extérieure ), and Britain’s MI5 and MI6. From the netherworld of Islamist cells in Belgium, to the training camps of Afghanistan, to the radical mosques of London, he risked his life to defeat the emerging Between 1994 and 2000, Omar Nasiri worked as a secret agent for Europe’s top foreign intelligence services - including France’s DGSE ( Direction Générale de la Sécurité Extérieure ), and Britain’s MI5 and MI6. From the netherworld of Islamist cells in Belgium, to the training camps of Afghanistan, to the radical mosques of London, he risked his life to defeat the emerging global network that the West would come to know as Al Qaeda. Now, for the first time, Nasiri shares the story of his life-a life balanced precariously between the world of Islamic jihadists and the spies who pursue them. As an Arab and a Muslim, he was able to infiltrate the rigidly controlled Afghan training camps, where he encountered men who would later be known as the most-wanted terrorists on earth: Ibn al-Sheikh al-Libi, Abu Zubayda, and Abu Khabab al-Masri. Sent back to Europe with instructions to form a sleeper cell, Nasiri became a conduit for messages going back and forth between Al Qaeda’s top recruiter in Pakistan and London’s radical cleric Abu Qatada.A gripping and provocative insider’s account of both Islamist terror networks and the intelligence services that spy on them, Inside the Jihad offers a completely original perspective on the ongoing battle against Al Qaeda.


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Between 1994 and 2000, Omar Nasiri worked as a secret agent for Europe’s top foreign intelligence services - including France’s DGSE ( Direction Générale de la Sécurité Extérieure ), and Britain’s MI5 and MI6. From the netherworld of Islamist cells in Belgium, to the training camps of Afghanistan, to the radical mosques of London, he risked his life to defeat the emerging Between 1994 and 2000, Omar Nasiri worked as a secret agent for Europe’s top foreign intelligence services - including France’s DGSE ( Direction Générale de la Sécurité Extérieure ), and Britain’s MI5 and MI6. From the netherworld of Islamist cells in Belgium, to the training camps of Afghanistan, to the radical mosques of London, he risked his life to defeat the emerging global network that the West would come to know as Al Qaeda. Now, for the first time, Nasiri shares the story of his life-a life balanced precariously between the world of Islamic jihadists and the spies who pursue them. As an Arab and a Muslim, he was able to infiltrate the rigidly controlled Afghan training camps, where he encountered men who would later be known as the most-wanted terrorists on earth: Ibn al-Sheikh al-Libi, Abu Zubayda, and Abu Khabab al-Masri. Sent back to Europe with instructions to form a sleeper cell, Nasiri became a conduit for messages going back and forth between Al Qaeda’s top recruiter in Pakistan and London’s radical cleric Abu Qatada.A gripping and provocative insider’s account of both Islamist terror networks and the intelligence services that spy on them, Inside the Jihad offers a completely original perspective on the ongoing battle against Al Qaeda.

30 review for Inside the Jihad: My Life with Al Qaeda

  1. 4 out of 5

    Darryl Greer

    "Inside The Jihad" by Moroccan-Belgian author, Omar Nasiri is written under a pseudonym for obvious reasons. It chronicles the author’s engagement as a spy for foreign intelligence services, principally France’s DGSE as well at Britain’s MI5 and MI6 during the years 1994 to 2000. The author describes his life in Belgium when he was first introduced to members of Islamist terrorist cells, to his infiltration into training camps in Afghanistan, then, later when living in London when he attends var "Inside The Jihad" by Moroccan-Belgian author, Omar Nasiri is written under a pseudonym for obvious reasons. It chronicles the author’s engagement as a spy for foreign intelligence services, principally France’s DGSE as well at Britain’s MI5 and MI6 during the years 1994 to 2000. The author describes his life in Belgium when he was first introduced to members of Islamist terrorist cells, to his infiltration into training camps in Afghanistan, then, later when living in London when he attends various mosques, one at least a hot bed of radical preaching. The global network he describes eventually becomes known as Al Qaeda. This is an unusual book written by a somewhat unusual person. It is, of course, a fascinating insight into exactly what goes on inside a terrorist training camp and I do believe, because of the detailed descriptions of the camps, that Nasiri’s account of them is factual. Some of his missions are nerve-tingling and his description of them would make good fodder for a page-turning thriller. The most interesting aspect for me, however, was his insight into how the Islamic terrorist mind works, something that we in the West seem to struggle with. I recommend "Inside The Jihad" to anyone who, like me, is fascinated by the Middle East

  2. 5 out of 5

    Anita

    Easy to read account of Muslim from Belgium who becomes a spy for France and ultimately infiltrates the terrorist training camps in Afghanistan. Later he spies in London but becomes somewhat bored and disillusioned and eventually settles in Germany to retire and get married. Best thing about this book is that it is a non-U.S. view and discusses many of the misperceptions the West has about Islam, jihad, and events (attacks) that happened in Europe and beyond, especially in the 90's. Makes the di Easy to read account of Muslim from Belgium who becomes a spy for France and ultimately infiltrates the terrorist training camps in Afghanistan. Later he spies in London but becomes somewhat bored and disillusioned and eventually settles in Germany to retire and get married. Best thing about this book is that it is a non-U.S. view and discusses many of the misperceptions the West has about Islam, jihad, and events (attacks) that happened in Europe and beyond, especially in the 90's. Makes the distinction between violent and non-violent sects and shows how extremism is rationalized and fueled. Believable, interesting, different.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Ed

    If goodreads had a rating below one star "Inside the Jihad" would qualify. There are a lot of laudatory reviews of this book and many if not most reviewers take the author's claims at face value. I think he has less credibility than James Frey or Clifford Irving. There is no translator or co-author credited but the book is written in clear idiomatic English—which would be Nasiri’s fourth language, after Maghrebi Arabic, French and German—possibly a record, certainly better than Joseph Conrad or H If goodreads had a rating below one star "Inside the Jihad" would qualify. There are a lot of laudatory reviews of this book and many if not most reviewers take the author's claims at face value. I think he has less credibility than James Frey or Clifford Irving. There is no translator or co-author credited but the book is written in clear idiomatic English—which would be Nasiri’s fourth language, after Maghrebi Arabic, French and German—possibly a record, certainly better than Joseph Conrad or Ha Jin could do. He writes of lying to, cheating and stealing from his family, friends and co-conspirators, says he was able to fool a drug dealer in Belgium—and even convince the drug dealer to lead him to an arms dealer and dupe the arms dealers into providing guns and ammunition to him with no money up front and no security for the illegal goods. He was a triple agent, playing the spy services of several European countries against each other and also fooling Al Qaeda operatives into recruiting him while he worked for (or at least was being paid by) two intelligence services that were operating against Al Qaeda. So this guy claims to be a very accomplished liar who has spent his life taking advantage of the gullible--apparently everyone he encounters—with no compunction about spinning whatever tales will help him and who is almost always successful. If that is the case why would anyone believe this unsourced, unvetted and ultimately unverifiable story of skullduggery and freelance espionage? If it sounds to good to be true...

  4. 5 out of 5

    Denise

    As gripping as a good spy thriller. A fascinating account, offering unique insights that certain intelligence services would have been (and probably continue to be) well advised to take more heed of.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Elsie

    Omar's evaluation in the early pages of his book is very interesting. "This is the problem of modern Islam in a nutshell. We are totally dependent on the West--for our dishwashers, our clothes, our cars, our education, everything. This is humiliating, and every Muslim feels it. ... Once we had accomplished so much--in science, mathematics, medicine, philosophy. For centuries we ran far ahead of the West. We were the most sophisticated civilization in the world. Now we are backwards. We can't eve Omar's evaluation in the early pages of his book is very interesting. "This is the problem of modern Islam in a nutshell. We are totally dependent on the West--for our dishwashers, our clothes, our cars, our education, everything. This is humiliating, and every Muslim feels it. ... Once we had accomplished so much--in science, mathematics, medicine, philosophy. For centuries we ran far ahead of the West. We were the most sophisticated civilization in the world. Now we are backwards. We can't even fight our wars without our enemies' weapons." (p.38) He was not a devout Muslim but his time in the Al Qaeda camps certainly created conflict with his desire to perform jihad and fulfill his spy duties. As he worked with the French, British and German intelligence forces he was very frustrated with their lack of understanding of the Islamic issues. His frustration also included the willingness of Muslims to rationalize the killing of civilians under the guise of jihad. "Killing soldiers is war; killing civilians is murder." (p. 318). However, I was disappointed in Omar's conclusion: "I think the United States and all the others should get off our land, and stay off. I think they should stop interfering in the politics of Muslim nations. I think they should leave us alone. And when they don't they should be killed, because that's what happens to invading armies and occupiers." (318-319) I would like to think that progress in society would exclude war, that we could all live together as one happy family. But if all the terrorism would stop by the West moving out of any Arab nation, then wouldn't we also expect all the Muslims to return to their own nation?

  6. 5 out of 5

    Kate Shannon

    This was a fascinating book for me. I learned a lot about jihad, which really is about life and how we should live it. The militant fighting jihad is only one aspect of jihad. I appreciated the author's ability to create the daily flow of Islamic worship. I learned much about the workings of espionage. I am not an anti arms person, but it really made me think about why we have invested so much time and intellect and money into developing bigger and better ways to blow people and things up. I str This was a fascinating book for me. I learned a lot about jihad, which really is about life and how we should live it. The militant fighting jihad is only one aspect of jihad. I appreciated the author's ability to create the daily flow of Islamic worship. I learned much about the workings of espionage. I am not an anti arms person, but it really made me think about why we have invested so much time and intellect and money into developing bigger and better ways to blow people and things up. I struggle with the concept of war against others who do not have the same world view. I'm not sure this really helped that. I still don't understand fanaticism to the point of slaughtering entire towns because their religious practice differs from yours. I cannot reconcile that mind set in any way, shape, or form with God and righteousness. It scared me to realize the type of training militant jihadists receive. And it scared me to realize the depth and breadth of the militant jihadist mind set. This was a book that was amazingly interesting and amazingly scary. I know I will be pondering much of what I read for quite a while.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Diane

    This book was written by an Arab man who became involved with terrorist groups in the 1990s and then became a spy. He attended terrorist training camps as a spy, but later gave up his life as a spy when his heart was no longer in it. The book is an exciting story of his life and contacts, and the author writes well. He does a good job of expressing his feelings, emotions, and reasons for his decisions. I wish that he would have included more analysis of why he believes people become terrorists. A This book was written by an Arab man who became involved with terrorist groups in the 1990s and then became a spy. He attended terrorist training camps as a spy, but later gave up his life as a spy when his heart was no longer in it. The book is an exciting story of his life and contacts, and the author writes well. He does a good job of expressing his feelings, emotions, and reasons for his decisions. I wish that he would have included more analysis of why he believes people become terrorists. At the beginning of the book, he says that he understands how these people think, but he never develops this theme fully. Instead, he offers personal reflections, which provide some insight, but are limited in scope.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Thomas Ptacek

    A good read, but I seriously doubt the veracity.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Melinda

    After getting caught up in the GIA in Belgium, Omar Nasiri decides to work with the French intelligence agency as a spy. He trains with the mujahidin in Afghanistan (fulfilling a long-time dream of his, as well as a promise to the DGSE), then moves to London to surveil the rise of radicals like Abu Qatada, Abu Hamza and Omar Bakri Muhammad. It's a fascinating story, reading at times like a novel, but it's clear that Nasiri — unlike ex-Islamist memoirists Ed Husain and Maajid Nawaz — remains comm After getting caught up in the GIA in Belgium, Omar Nasiri decides to work with the French intelligence agency as a spy. He trains with the mujahidin in Afghanistan (fulfilling a long-time dream of his, as well as a promise to the DGSE), then moves to London to surveil the rise of radicals like Abu Qatada, Abu Hamza and Omar Bakri Muhammad. It's a fascinating story, reading at times like a novel, but it's clear that Nasiri — unlike ex-Islamist memoirists Ed Husain and Maajid Nawaz — remains committed to the goals of Islamism, including violence, though within limits that the GIA, al-Qaida, and other jihadist groups transgress. The book comes with a bizarre introduction by a former CIA official. Michael Scheuer offers up Nasiri's memoir as evidence of his theory that jihadists are motivated by neither religion nor hatred of the West but foreign policy grievances alone. Scheuer also claims that recruiting is practically non-existent, in favor of self-recruiting. This narrative doesn't match Nasiri's; his brother's religious turn to Salafism coincided with his involvement in the GIA and recruitment of Nasiri as a weapons runner. Nasiri writes laudatorily of the religious lessons in the training camps and praises Abu Qatada as a "true scholar" of Islam (in contrast to the demagoguery of Abu Hamza). While it's true that Nasiri enjoys life in Europe — along with wine, cigarettes and womanizing — he makes it clear that his fellow fighters eschew everything "taghut," including Nasiri's secret lifestyle, and resent the "cultural imperialism" of the United States. Throughout the text the author transcribes Qur'an as "Kur'an" — a peculiar stylistic choice that is neither English (Koran) nor Arabic (Qur'an). It's particularly jarring given the ample use of other Arabic words and names that start with "q": qibla, Qatada, Qaeda.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Pepe

    This was difficult to get through for a number of reasons. My biggest mental hurdle was that I knew the author was a self-admitted liar, so while I knew that this had been vetted and confirmed by a number of people who understand terrorist and jihadis, I could not stop questioning everything. My other problem was that I want to have hope that one we will be able to find common ground as humans, and without divulging too much, I found it difficult to maintain this hope. It is not naivete on my pa This was difficult to get through for a number of reasons. My biggest mental hurdle was that I knew the author was a self-admitted liar, so while I knew that this had been vetted and confirmed by a number of people who understand terrorist and jihadis, I could not stop questioning everything. My other problem was that I want to have hope that one we will be able to find common ground as humans, and without divulging too much, I found it difficult to maintain this hope. It is not naivete on my part. I understand that humans can be extraordinarily cruel to one another. But I have also witnessed the opposite of that, and that is why I maintain optimism. So it was hard to read, and finish, but I did. It's not for everyone, but it did teach me a lot. At the end of the day, that made it worthwhile for me.

  11. 5 out of 5

    James Stephens

    When I pursuing my degree in Emergency Management Degree with a concentration in terrorism, this book opened my eyes and if you want to understand the reasons why terrorists do what they do then read how this covert operator infiltrated Al Qaeda and learned their ways. Other organizations have a very similiar mindset. 9/11 could have been avoided and this operator warned the U.S. with no avail.

  12. 5 out of 5

    alyssa

    one of my favorite books i've ever read. the author's cognitive dissonance is understandable in his position, and the stuff he went through is insane.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Richard Ambrosio

    Phenomenal book. It had me poring over it non stop, huddled over it every morning on the tube. It's a gripping account of a Moroccan born spy who infiltrates an Algerian terrorist cell in Belgium and training camps in Afghanistan. He is then sent to London to start a terror cell and to raise money for the Jihad cause, but in reality, uses his proximity to feed valuable intel to MI5 and DGSE. It reads like a spy thriller! Two other things stuck out in my mind. First, there was the incredibly nuanc Phenomenal book. It had me poring over it non stop, huddled over it every morning on the tube. It's a gripping account of a Moroccan born spy who infiltrates an Algerian terrorist cell in Belgium and training camps in Afghanistan. He is then sent to London to start a terror cell and to raise money for the Jihad cause, but in reality, uses his proximity to feed valuable intel to MI5 and DGSE. It reads like a spy thriller! Two other things stuck out in my mind. First, there was the incredibly nuanced picture it shows of fundamentalist Islam. I hadn't realised just how scornful Arab fighters were towards the Taliban and how even they regarded them as extreme in their actions and viewpoints. Or that they are scornful of KLA fighters and the lax ways of Kosovan Muslums. In telling its story, the book canvasses the panoply of extremists with their varying motivations and intensity, from Algerian to Chechen fighters. Also, just how woefully inept the British law enforcement and intelligence authorities were in the 1990s when it came to Islamic terrorism. Clearly, they worked on models centred on the threat of Irish republican radicals, and no other threat seemed to hold their attention. They were hampered by robust legal protections afforded to all and a poorly defined legislative framework. Above all, the utter amateur hour that appears to go down in MI5/MI6 and the resulting disputes with the French. A cracking read. Highly recommended.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Michael Simborg

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Very insightful and frontline view into the history and future of the "jihad" (as the West refers to it) and the many viewpoints and flavors this term evokes. Central to his story was a constant thread: ignorance seems to rule the West while justice seems to motivate the East. While I am in agreement with Omar's views about the "killing of innocents" in the "jihad" and that the West historically occupies and exploits other countries which, in turn, creates "terrorism", I do not agree with the "p Very insightful and frontline view into the history and future of the "jihad" (as the West refers to it) and the many viewpoints and flavors this term evokes. Central to his story was a constant thread: ignorance seems to rule the West while justice seems to motivate the East. While I am in agreement with Omar's views about the "killing of innocents" in the "jihad" and that the West historically occupies and exploits other countries which, in turn, creates "terrorism", I do not agree with the "purity" of the movement noting the immense and ubiquitous amounts of corruption. With books like these it becomes painfully apparent how the agendas of our leaders are superimposed on the will of the people who elect them. Further, it was astounding to me to read how completely inept the "intelligence" agencies involved with combating terrorism truly were and possibly still are. Top this off with the fact that this invaluable asset in this war was thrown to the wolves, abandoned and dishonored to the point where his only option was to write a book, risk his life in the process, to be a human again. Shame on the West and shame on America, Europe and other nations that support puppet governments, occupation and genocide in the name of "democracy, peace and freedom." WHAT A JOKE!

  15. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    I'm not sure where to begin with this one: the in depth "behind the scenes at a jihad training camp"? the ineptitude of the French (and British and German) intelligence services? the casualness of dedication to a specific jihad in favor of any jihad? All of the above? Nasiri's tale of his life as a spy is at times riveting and at times horrifying but always readable. When describing his training, I kept thinking about how the guns, explosives and chemicals were simply toys to him - you can almos I'm not sure where to begin with this one: the in depth "behind the scenes at a jihad training camp"? the ineptitude of the French (and British and German) intelligence services? the casualness of dedication to a specific jihad in favor of any jihad? All of the above? Nasiri's tale of his life as a spy is at times riveting and at times horrifying but always readable. When describing his training, I kept thinking about how the guns, explosives and chemicals were simply toys to him - you can almost see him internally jumping for joy the first time he handles an AK-47. His motivations for joining in jihad are a mixture of belief in getting American (and European) influence out of Muslim lands, the opportunity to play with cool toys, and his desire to be "taken care of" by the DGSE. I wonder how many other jihadis share his background and his sensibilities, and whether we will ever be able to find a middle ground. Copy provided by publisher.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Vickie

    I enjoyed this insider's perspective on Islamic extremism. Allegedly, the author lived and worked as a spy for many years. The author was in a unique position to successfully "pose" as a mujahidin, jihadist, or terrorist (depending on your perspective) and report back to the authorities in Europe. Best part of the book: I really liked the psychological aspect of the story. For example, the author has somewhat of an identity crisis while he's "training" in the camps to fight his jihad. He is mere I enjoyed this insider's perspective on Islamic extremism. Allegedly, the author lived and worked as a spy for many years. The author was in a unique position to successfully "pose" as a mujahidin, jihadist, or terrorist (depending on your perspective) and report back to the authorities in Europe. Best part of the book: I really liked the psychological aspect of the story. For example, the author has somewhat of an identity crisis while he's "training" in the camps to fight his jihad. He is merely pretending to be an extremist, but adopts their speech, behavior and even their beliefs in some respects. He sometimes comes close to forgetting that he's a spy. I also thought the author did an excellent job descriving how difficult it was to live sucha dangerous life....How the author was unable to have his own true identify, to fall in love, etc.... Worst part of the book: I did not like the chapters discussing the weapons and their use. I guess I'm just not interested in this subject. But overall, this was a very interesting read.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    I was hesitant about reading this one, but with the gentle urging of my husband, I dove in and found that I didn't want to pull myself away. Not only is it a fascinating insight into the training and life of those searching to find their jihad, but it's almost unbelievable that it's a true story. At times I found the writer a little arrogant in his skills and perceptions, but I think it truly is a must read. You know it's a good book when you realize how much you do not know on every page. I did I was hesitant about reading this one, but with the gentle urging of my husband, I dove in and found that I didn't want to pull myself away. Not only is it a fascinating insight into the training and life of those searching to find their jihad, but it's almost unbelievable that it's a true story. At times I found the writer a little arrogant in his skills and perceptions, but I think it truly is a must read. You know it's a good book when you realize how much you do not know on every page. I did not know the entire history of the Islam world, nor the many fractions within it. I am grateful for the courage it took Nasiri, whomever he may be, to not only endure these camps, but to bravely persevere with the many obstacles throw at him from every direction. Thank you for telling your story it has opened my eyes to a world I was completely ignorant of, and I now have a great respect for.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Mythu Devan

    One of my favorite books I read years back!!!!! This book discloses the stupendous growth of Al-Qaeda camps over the years. The book shockingly reveals the depth of the trainings offered. Now who can provide such insightful infos. better than the spy himself! The book also provides such intricate details of Islam community that it takes me a step closer to the religion itself. I still remember clarifying some of it with my Islamic friend. Towards the end, the spy mentions he was left stranded by One of my favorite books I read years back!!!!! This book discloses the stupendous growth of Al-Qaeda camps over the years. The book shockingly reveals the depth of the trainings offered. Now who can provide such insightful infos. better than the spy himself! The book also provides such intricate details of Islam community that it takes me a step closer to the religion itself. I still remember clarifying some of it with my Islamic friend. Towards the end, the spy mentions he was left stranded by the government he worked for and lives in a hideout. I had this book with me for a year and read it many times and delightfully discovered something new on every read! The Book "Jihaad" in every aspect nails the fact that Jihaad today is the mask or racists & terrorists! And the for such believers, Jihaad means war, war against world peace! But what about the US government? It sure as hell doesn't say Jihaad but teaches its children freedom and abducts the same from the Islamic nations!

  19. 5 out of 5

    Shirl

    I thought this was a good look at the spy world from an opposing side. I also thought it was a telling glimpse into a much more sophisticated network focused on learning all they can in order to be successful at bringing down their enemy. The book expresses how driven these networks of men are. They are funded, committed, and convinced of their mission, yet disenfranchised from their own countries in pursuit of their jihad. No questions this was an informative book, and chilling as Nasiri goes i I thought this was a good look at the spy world from an opposing side. I also thought it was a telling glimpse into a much more sophisticated network focused on learning all they can in order to be successful at bringing down their enemy. The book expresses how driven these networks of men are. They are funded, committed, and convinced of their mission, yet disenfranchised from their own countries in pursuit of their jihad. No questions this was an informative book, and chilling as Nasiri goes into great detail about the training of these al qaeda men. I certainly read the book feeling alarmed as one by one assumptions I had about Al Qaeda's sophistication fell to the wayside. This book is an education, and it is a warning. I'll leave it to you to decide on it's authenticity.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Ingrid Hansen

    This is a good view into how muslims become terrorists and you get some kind of answer to why they want to fight for Al Qaeda og for GIA og whatever organisation that tries to rouse their hate to all of us in the western world. Omar Nasiris story is not one that is well known to us because we don't really know what goes on in the training camps but he's given us a rare insight into what they learn og how they learn it and what drives ordinary men to volunteer into becoming muhjadins that will fig This is a good view into how muslims become terrorists and you get some kind of answer to why they want to fight for Al Qaeda og for GIA og whatever organisation that tries to rouse their hate to all of us in the western world. Omar Nasiris story is not one that is well known to us because we don't really know what goes on in the training camps but he's given us a rare insight into what they learn og how they learn it and what drives ordinary men to volunteer into becoming muhjadins that will fight because the western world in their mind is the evil one. The amazing thing is that Omar Nasiri is actually being a spy and how he manages to do both things is really some kind of unbelievable acting from his side.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Chris

    I recommend this great book. It has sections that are fascinating and there are some dry sections. Overall, this is a scary tale about a man’s journey into the bowls of Al Qaeda. How he gets there in very interesting and believable. Once he is inside an Al Qaeda training compound inside Afghanistan (1990s time frame), the details and sophistication of the professional training & education described is alarming. The end is equally disturbing because his knowledge was available to intelligence age I recommend this great book. It has sections that are fascinating and there are some dry sections. Overall, this is a scary tale about a man’s journey into the bowls of Al Qaeda. How he gets there in very interesting and believable. Once he is inside an Al Qaeda training compound inside Afghanistan (1990s time frame), the details and sophistication of the professional training & education described is alarming. The end is equally disturbing because his knowledge was available to intelligence agencies who apparently misused him. I was very intrigued by this book, but I do not think non military professionals would find it as interesting. For anyone who wants to know the inside story on how an actual terrorist cell or organization operates, this is the real deal book for you.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Nick

    Incredibly enlightening first-hand account of not only how Al Qaeda is run from the bottom-up, but how information is gathered in intelligence agencies around the world today. As someone who didn't know a lot about Arab culture and the slight religious and moral views that make all the difference between the seemingly similar groups that make them up, this taught me a lot. The stories presented seem unique and genuine, and although the author is a little unreliable at times, he's so clever that Incredibly enlightening first-hand account of not only how Al Qaeda is run from the bottom-up, but how information is gathered in intelligence agencies around the world today. As someone who didn't know a lot about Arab culture and the slight religious and moral views that make all the difference between the seemingly similar groups that make them up, this taught me a lot. The stories presented seem unique and genuine, and although the author is a little unreliable at times, he's so clever that you give him a pass. He presents his inner conflict of whether he's really a terrorist or a spy in a real way, and I believed that he truly was conflicted. Highly recommend it!

  23. 5 out of 5

    Marcelle

    This is a very enlightening account of the Muslim extremist movement. It reads like a spy novel, full of deception and intrigue. However, because it is written by an author who must disguise himself, it is tough to know if it is all accurate. It paints an inept picture when describing the European secret service agencies of the 1990s, and describes the beginnings of Al Qaeda. Neither of these groups would be inclined to confirm the accounts. But what I appreciated most was probably what Nasiri wa This is a very enlightening account of the Muslim extremist movement. It reads like a spy novel, full of deception and intrigue. However, because it is written by an author who must disguise himself, it is tough to know if it is all accurate. It paints an inept picture when describing the European secret service agencies of the 1990s, and describes the beginnings of Al Qaeda. Neither of these groups would be inclined to confirm the accounts. But what I appreciated most was probably what Nasiri was hoping to get across ... an explanation for what the jihad movement all about. Perhaps we can overcome extreme violence and hatred if we understand its sources better.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Julia

    I'm not really sure how to feel about this book. It was a page turner, and in some ways very fascinating. Before reading it, I thought the others who were calling out "fake!" in their reviews were just looking for something to say. I'm not really sure how exactly this one got on my to-read list, but the whole premise and layout is so coincidental at times, it reads more like a thriller than a biography. After a bunch of hemming and hawing, I ultimately gave this three stars because it was an inte I'm not really sure how to feel about this book. It was a page turner, and in some ways very fascinating. Before reading it, I thought the others who were calling out "fake!" in their reviews were just looking for something to say. I'm not really sure how exactly this one got on my to-read list, but the whole premise and layout is so coincidental at times, it reads more like a thriller than a biography. After a bunch of hemming and hawing, I ultimately gave this three stars because it was an interesting and fast-paced read, but the likelihood of everything described happening is about as likely as me joining an Islamic militant group.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Abhishek Agarwal

    I guess the book gets interesting in middle part of it when the author is actually on field in Afghanistan training camps. The training is more sophisticated than I imagined. And the trainers are (as described) not a bunch of frenzied lunatics, rather courageous, well-trained, and also well versed in interpersonal skills. In short, skilled similarly as a modern armed force commander would be(added to that the trainers knew theology as well). I am not sure how veracious the account is, some point I guess the book gets interesting in middle part of it when the author is actually on field in Afghanistan training camps. The training is more sophisticated than I imagined. And the trainers are (as described) not a bunch of frenzied lunatics, rather courageous, well-trained, and also well versed in interpersonal skills. In short, skilled similarly as a modern armed force commander would be(added to that the trainers knew theology as well). I am not sure how veracious the account is, some points do feel artificial. Author also puts across his philosophy and take on terrorism and counter-terrorism, which I found less interesting as it doesn't have a new insight.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Blake

    This is simply a fascinating book, which also happens to be very readable. The author is anonymous and this book details his life journey from low-level criminal, to the rebirth of his Islamic identity, to attending terrorist training camps in Afghanistan while working as a French intelligence agent. While you may be inclined to discount this work as a fabrication, the introduction written by a former high-ranking CIA officer lends credibility. If you are interested in the subject of terrorism o This is simply a fascinating book, which also happens to be very readable. The author is anonymous and this book details his life journey from low-level criminal, to the rebirth of his Islamic identity, to attending terrorist training camps in Afghanistan while working as a French intelligence agent. While you may be inclined to discount this work as a fabrication, the introduction written by a former high-ranking CIA officer lends credibility. If you are interested in the subject of terrorism or simply looking for a good spy story, this is it.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer Lindsay

    So compelling! And I had to read something with a little more substance after the four "Twilight" books. This will be like "Three Cups of Tea" for me, in the sense that I am going to learn more about the middle east from these two books than I have ever learned from our media. It sounds like we have been misled and fed lies from our politicians and media in regards to the Muslim world and their real motivations. And this reads like an adventure novel. A great character study too of this troubled So compelling! And I had to read something with a little more substance after the four "Twilight" books. This will be like "Three Cups of Tea" for me, in the sense that I am going to learn more about the middle east from these two books than I have ever learned from our media. It sounds like we have been misled and fed lies from our politicians and media in regards to the Muslim world and their real motivations. And this reads like an adventure novel. A great character study too of this troubled soul.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Mark

    This was a very interesting story, but in the end, I was left with the impression that the author, a Morrocan Arab Muslim, was a self-serving sleazebag and not to be trusted as an honest story teller. I really don't think that I'm a Islamaphobe; I went into this book very openmindedly (is that a word?). But this guy seems to change with the wind. He claims to be a Muslim at the core, but he consistantly breaks all the commandments of Mohammed and is a creature of convenience. Anyway, I was left This was a very interesting story, but in the end, I was left with the impression that the author, a Morrocan Arab Muslim, was a self-serving sleazebag and not to be trusted as an honest story teller. I really don't think that I'm a Islamaphobe; I went into this book very openmindedly (is that a word?). But this guy seems to change with the wind. He claims to be a Muslim at the core, but he consistantly breaks all the commandments of Mohammed and is a creature of convenience. Anyway, I was left with very mixed feelings about the author which taints the veracity of his account for me.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Billy

    An interesting book by a man who trained in the jihadist camps in Afghanistan but was also an agent for the French DGSE. While an enjoyable read, everything in the book must be taken with a grain of salt. The writer tries to elevate his importance both in the jihad movement and as a spy, but ultimately he doesn't really do much for either. Still it provides a good insight into the mind of a man torn between the West and the East. Amusingly at the end, he tells us that the jihad will come to an end An interesting book by a man who trained in the jihadist camps in Afghanistan but was also an agent for the French DGSE. While an enjoyable read, everything in the book must be taken with a grain of salt. The writer tries to elevate his importance both in the jihad movement and as a spy, but ultimately he doesn't really do much for either. Still it provides a good insight into the mind of a man torn between the West and the East. Amusingly at the end, he tells us that the jihad will come to an end when the West gets out of Muslim lands. Will he oblige us by getting out of our lands?

  30. 5 out of 5

    Ann

    A gripping narrative told by a Muslim turned spy ... he worked gathering intelligence for both France and Britain by going undercover and becoming part of sleeper cells and joining an Afghanistan training camp. It is both fascinating and disturbing ... these terrorists are SO incredibly devoted to their goal of destroying Western civilization. The training camps are basically brainwashing centers and the training is so incredibly rigorous ... A very intense book !

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