Saturday, Mar 30, 2002 Picking Up the Pieces

For most Americans, the events of September 11 came like a bolt from the blue on that beautiful, terrible morning. But as Strobe Talbott and Nayan Chanda observe in their well-written introduction to The Age of Terror, “the unforgivable is not necessarily incomprehensible or inexplicable.” In fact, all three of these books make clear that although the attacks on New York and Washington were unexpected for many, the warning signs had long been evident — at least to some of those who focus on terrorism.

Visiting Kabul in 1993, I struck up a conversation with a group of soldiers outside the bombed-out shell of a stately old palace. They were under the command of the Afghan Islamist militant leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar and confidently assured me they would soon export their Islamic revolution northward deep into Central Asia, to the storied formerly Muslim lands of Samarkand and Bukhara.

Al-Jazeera said it didn’t air the tape because it wasn’t newsworthy, and announced Thursday it was severing its relationship with CNN, claiming the interview was stolen and aired illegally. CNN disputes that.
CNN’s Paula Zahn discussed the tape Friday with CNN terrorism analyst Peter Bergen, who has been studying bin Laden and his operation for several years.

Peter Bergen is a terrorism expert and consultant for CNN. He is the author of “Holy War, Inc.: Inside the Secret World of Osama bin Laden,” and he was recently a journalist-in-residence at Johns Hopkins University in Washington. He was interviewed shortly after the list of suspected hijackers was released by CNN.

Holy War Inc by Peter L. Bergen Weidenfeld & Nicolson pounds 18.99, pp302 The Age of Terror eds Strobe Talbott, Nayan Chanda Perseus pounds 8.99, pp224 How Did This Happen? eds James F. Hoge,Gideon Rose Perseus pounds 8.99, pp352 Two Hours that Shook the World by Fred Halliday Saqi pounds 7.99, pp256

A SUPERPOWER sends an expeditionary force armed with the latest in military technology …

By Clare Lochary
Hoya Staff Writer

Before Sept. 11, generalizations and vague ideas of foreign policy satisfied the average American’s curiosity about Middle Eastern culture. But since the devastating attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, interest in these subjects spiked dramatically, prompting a frenzied media search for quick answers to America’s questions.

Osama bin Laden, argues Peter Bergen in Holy War, Inc., used corporate-management techniques to turn al Qaeda into the world’s preeminent terrorist organization

Last February, a small publishing house in Ardsley, N.Y., came out with a 170-page paperback by a pair of little-known scholars from a Washington think tank. Its $17.50 price tag seemed a bit steep, and between February and September, Transnational Publishers sold a mere 300 copies of Usama bin Laden’s al-Qaida: Profile of a Terrorist Network, by Yonah Alexander and Michael S. Swetnam.

Holy War, Inc.: Inside the Secret World of Osama bin Laden. BY PETER L. BERGEN. New York: Free Press, 2001, 300 pp. $ 26.00.

The title makes a point: Osama bin Laden’s al Qaeda has the border-transcending reach of a multinational corporation with managerial skills to match. Holy War, Inc. is a first-rate account drawing on the author’s years of hard journalistic slogging.

HOLY WAR, INC.: Inside the Secret World of Osama bin Laden, by Peter L. Bergen. Read by the author, 4 1/2 hours, abridged, Simon & Schuster Audio, $25.

A more important book is not going to be published anytime soon. Peter Bergen, CNN’s terrorism analyst, not only gives us a riveting read about Osama bin Laden, but he carefully builds the background behind the ticking terrorist time bomb that exploded on Sept. 11. Bergen (along with CNN’s Peter Arnett and Peter Jouvenal) interviewed bin Laden in 1997. He’s reported about Muslims and the Middle East since 1983. But this is not a recycling of sketchy profiles. Bergen, born in Minneapolis, raised in London, offers fresh facts and wraps the crucial history of today’s terrorism around the story of the world’s most wanted man.