Articles

The Cold War spawned Kremlinology, with thousands of experts peering through the smallest cracks of the secretive Soviet stronghold to deduce what its leaders were thinking. Now terrorology is the discipline du jour, and the keenest political analysts are training their eyes on more murky territory – the caves of Afghanistan’s Tora Bora and the gritty reaches of Iraq’s Sunni triangle – in an effort to crack the code of Osama bin Laden’s brain

Tuesday, Jan 24, 2006 review of OBL I Know in Denver Post

Few Westerners know Osama bin Laden as well as Peter Bergen, CNN terror analyst and author of “Holy War, Inc.” Bergen sat down with bin Laden as a journalist in 1997 and interviewed the soft-spoken man who would become America’s biggest nightmare. Bergen was less than impressed with bin Laden’s charisma but found him interesting, nonetheless, and has been following the Islamic fanatic ever since.

Despite his impact on history, Osama Bin Laden remains shrouded in a fog of myth, propaganda, and half-truths. For eight years I have been interviewing people close to him and gathering documents, including his own letters, in order to fill out the picture of this mysterious man.

Osama bin Laden has been seen largely as a symbol, rather than as a man. Now an unprecedented portrait emerges from interviews with bin Laden’s family and inner circle. In an excerpt from his new book, the author reveals the influences that led a privileged young Saudi to form his own army and eventually take advantage of what he saw as inevitable: the U.S. invasion of Iraq

He was a nice, quiet boy, a loner, kept pretty much to himself. Then he got a little funny in the head — but we never saw it coming.

So suggests Osama bin Laden’s high-school English teacher, remembering him as “extraordinarily courteous . . . probably partly because he was a bit shyer than most of the other students.” From shy teenager to world-renowned criminal: The career arc that CNN correspondent Bergen’s oral history describes surely seemed unlikely to the wealthy Saudis among whom bin Laden came of age, though all the signs were there; a neighbor, for instance, recalls that though bin Laden was fond of Westerns and kung-fu movies, he was also a priggish fundamentalist who dreamed of liberating Palestine and chided his siblings for ogling the maid and wearing short-sleeve shirts.

Wednesday, Nov 09, 2005 jordan blasts

PETER BERGEN, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: Well, I think there are two leading candidates. One is, of course, Zarqawi’s group which goes by the name of Tawhid when it was based — when he was based in Jordan. “Tawhid” is the word for the unity of god.

Monday, Oct 24, 2005 Blowback from the Iraq war

When the United States started sending guns and money to the Afghan mujahideen in the 1980s, it had a clearly defined Cold War purpose: helping expel the Soviet army, which had invaded Afghanistan in 1979. And so it made sense that once the Afghan jihad forced a Soviet withdrawal a decade later, Washington would lose interest in the rebels. For the international mujahideen drawn to the Afghan conflict, however, the fight was just beginning. They opened new fronts in the name of global jihad and became the spearhead of Islamist terrorism. The seriousness of the blowback became clear to the United States with the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center: all of the attack’s participants either had served in Afghanistan or were linked to a Brooklyn-based fund-raising organ for the Afghan jihad that was later revealed to be al Qaeda’s de facto U.S. headquarters. The blowback, evident in other countries as well, continued to increase in intensity throughout the rest of the decade, culminating on September 11, 2001.

Wednesday, Sep 28, 2005 taysir alouni sentencing

On Monday a Spanish court sentenced Taysir Alouni , a fifty year old al Jazeera television reporter with a heart condition, to a term of seven years for “collaboration with a terrorist organization.” Alouni had been al Jazeera’s bureau chief in Afghanistan during the Taliban era, one only of a couple of television reporters based full time in Kabul who covered the ultra fundamentalist movement. The evidence that was used to convict Alouni was that in 2000 he had given $4,500 to some Syrians living in Afghanistan who were alleged to have been part of al Qaeda. An important part of the supposed evidence of Alouni’s collaboration with al Qaeda was also an interview he conducted with Osama bin Laden six weeks after the 9/11 attacks.

Saturday, Sep 10, 2005 Reading Al Qaeda

Al Qaeda, which means “the base” in Arabic, lost its physical base in Afghanistan after Sept. 11, 2001, so now its ideological base can be found not in the training camps of the Hindu Kush but on the Internet and in the books that leaders of the movement serialize in Arabic newspapers. These Web sites and publications are aimed at reaching a wide audience in the Muslim world. For instance, the London-based Al-Sharq al-Awsat is arguably the most influential newspaper in the Arabic-speaking world, while Abu Musab al Suri’s 1,600-page history of jihad, The International Islamic Resistance Call , was posted to a jihadist Web site in Dec. 2004. Once it was posted, the book could then be copied to thousands of other such sites. It turns out that the first truly virtual books are being published not only by Silicon Valley whiz kids but also by jihadists.

Ilich Ramirez Sanchez, “L’islam revolutionnaire”, (Editions du Rocher, Paris 2003.) Ilich Ramirez Sanchez, better known as Carlos the Jackal, the notorious terrorist and mass murderer, has weighed in on the war on terrorism from his Paris prison cell. In what must surely qualify as one of the more tasteless exercises in publishing history, Carlos holds forth windily about how the United States got what it deserved on 9/11 because of its imperialist policies.

UPCOMING EVENTS

Thursday, June, 21, 2018 “Why Terrorist Groups Form International Alliances.” New America DC

Tuesday, June, 26, 2018 The Beltway and the Ivory Tower: Bridging the Gap, New America DC

Wednesday, July, 18, 2018 Aspen Security Forum, Aspen, CO

Tuesday, August, 21, 2018 Modern Warfare Symposium, Global SOF, Ft. Bragg, N.C.

Friday, September, 07, 2018 DARPA D60 Symposium, Washington DC

Tuesday, September, 25, 2018 Global SOF Symposium, Madrid, Spain

MORE EVENTS »

RECENT FILMS

2017

LEGION OF BROTHERS, CNN Films

2016

"We Got Him": President Obama, Bin Laden, and the Future of the War on Terror, CNN

2016

Homegrown: The Counter-Terror Dilemma, HBO

ALL FILMS »