The Looming Tower
Every American is acutely aware of the terrorist attack on 9/11. Many Americans are not aware of the many threads of fate that is the web of al-Qaeda and International Islamic Terrorism that lead up to that horrible day.
The Looming Tower: al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11 by Lawrence Wright is a brilliant book covering the Islamic Fundamentalist movement from it's early days through 9/11 and the early aftermath of that tragic event when some 3,000 people were murdered in multiple terrorist attacks within the United States.
It begins with an Egyptian named Sayyid Qutb and his journey to the United States a few years after the end of World War 2. He is described as a man who was torn between Islam and the modern world, and he chose Islam, and pushed for violent overthrow of the secular government of Egypt. That is the root beginnings of al-Qaeda, which one realizes as one reads the Looming Tower. It is a complex web of revolution, ideologues, terrorism and jihad.
Qutb is where The Looming Tower begins. It proceeds on to Zawahiri and the rise of al-Jihad in Egypt; the Mujahideen in Afghanistan; Osama bin Ladin from his childhood through to the climatctic events of 9/11.
Terrorist acts covered are numerous, as well as assassinations and coups attempts in Egypt. The terrorist successes as well as their known failures.
The good guys are also covered, and the many layers of bureaucratic red tape that hindered investigations that may have prevented the attacks of 9/11. One of the most notable was an FBI agent named John O'Neill, who retired from the FBI and took a job as a security consultant at the World Trade Center, just days before the attack of 9/11.
Another is Prince Turki of Saudi Arabia, who recently stepped down from his post as ambassador to the United States, and his many roles in dealing with Saudi Arabia's wayward stepson, Osama bin Ladin.
It's a chilling history of terror and fundamentalism, and introduced me to terms like Takfir and Kafir, both terms that refer to someone as being non-Muslim and subject to being killed in the name of Allah.
It is a book well worth reading. It will remind you, or enlighten you, as to what we're up against where al-Qaeda, and other suggest terrorist organizations, are concerned, and that we dare not lose.