The Black Banners: Inside the Hunt for Al Qaeda

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Penguin Books Limited, Sep 12, 2011 - Political Science - 608 pages

'If you see the Black Banners coming from Khurasan, join that army, even if you have to crawl over ice; no power will be able to stop them'
Hadith attributed to the Prophet Muhammad

The Black Banners is the ultimate insider's account of the realities of counter-terrorism. During a decade on the front lines, as the FBI's lead investigator into Al Qaeda, Ali Soufan thwarted plots around the world and won some of the most important confessions from terrorists - without laying so much as a hand on them. Most of these stories have never been reported before, and never by anyone with such intimate firsthand knowledge. Soufan takes us into the interrogation rooms, into the hideouts. He even gives us a ringside seat at bin Laden's personal celebration of the 9/11 bombings. This is a gripping blow-by-blow account of the ten-year hunt for the most dangerous and well-connected Islamist terrorists - some of whom are still at large.

In The Black Banners Soufan also explains why the pervasive use of torture is not helping in the 'War on Terror', and how a more enlightened approach to intelligence is not only possible, but essential. This is a story not just of intrigue and bravery, but of empathy. He shows us how terrorists think and operate. And he shows that through this understanding, they can be stopped and finally brought to justice.

Ali Soufan knows the truth about the successes and failures of countering terrorism. His knowledge is essential to us all.

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - mara.murdoch - LibraryThing

This is a great book! Written by one of, if not the main, FBI interrogator of the al-Qaeda operatives, it tells the story of the FBI's following of the al-Qaeda network from the 1990's until present ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - lifesshort - LibraryThing

Ali Soufran worked for the FBI. This is his account of how they questioned suspects after 9/11 and how they were doing a better job of getting credible information until the CIA intervened and started ... Read full review

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About the author (2011)

Ali Soufan, a former FBI special agent, served on the front lines against al-Qaeda and gained an international reputation as a top counterterrorism operative and interrogator. He has been profiled in The New Yorker and featured in books, newspaper articles, and documentaries around the globe.

'He's the special agent who came in from the cold...the most successful U.S. interrogator of Al-Qaeda operatives...Soufan was involved in a string of crucial investigations and interrogations, from the Millennium Bombing plot in Jordan to the U.S.S. Cole bombing in Yemen and a number of Gitmo interrogations. His greatest success was the interrogation of Abu Jandal, bin Laden's former bodyguard'
Bobby Ghosh, Time

'After the 1998 embassy bombings,Soufan helped assemble the initial evidence linking them to Bin Laden. Soufan's language skills, his relentlessness, and his roots in the Middle East made him invaluable in helping the FBI understand Al Qaeda, an organization that few Americans were even aware of before the embassy bombings'
Lawrence Wright, New Yorker

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