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Publisher's Summary

A compelling, definitive account of how and why bin Laden's ideology keeps rising from the dead.

In early 2011, the heart of the Muslim world roiled in protest, consumed with the upheaval of the Arab Spring. The governments of Tunisia and Egypt had already fallen; those of Libya and Yemen would soon follow. Watching the chaos from his hideout in Pakistan, Osama bin Laden saw a historic opportunity: "The next stage," he declared, "will be the reinstating of the rule of the caliphate."

Within weeks, bin Laden was dead, shot in the dark by a US Navy SEAL. Commentators around the world began to prophesy al-Qaeda's imminent demise. But six years later, the reality is the reverse. The group's affiliates have swollen, and the Islamic State - al-Qaeda's most brutal spinoff to date - proclaims itself the reborn caliphate bin Laden foretold in his final weeks.

In Anatomy of Terror, former FBI special agent and New York Times best-selling author Ali Soufan dissects bin Laden's brand of jihadi terrorism and its major offshoots, revealing how these organizations were formed, how they operate, their strengths, and - crucially - their weaknesses. This riveting account examines the new Islamic radicalism through the eyes of its flag-bearers, including a Jordanian former drug dealer whose cruelties shocked even his fellow militants, an Air Force colonel who once served Saddam Hussein, and a provincial bookworm who declared himself caliph of all Muslims. We meet Ayman al-Zawahiri, titular head of al-Qaeda; Saif al-Adel, an Egyptian ex-soldier who faked his own death to become the group's security chief; and bin Laden's own beloved son Hamza, a prime candidate to lead the organization his late father founded.

To eliminate the scourge of terrorism, we must first know who the enemy actually is, and what his motivations are. Anatomy of Terror lays bare the psychology and inner workings of al-Qaeda, the Islamic State, and their spawn, and shows how the spread of terror can be stopped.

©2017 Ali Soufan (P)2017 Audible, Inc.

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  • Overall
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Been there, seen the elephant

Where does Anatomy of Terror rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

This is the best of the audio books I've listed to on Audible so far.

Would you be willing to try another book from Ali Soufan? Why or why not?

I am looking forward to listening to the same author's The Black Banners next. This is a man who hasn't just chased or researched the bad guys, but talked to them. Dozens of them, at least. His insights are totally invaluable; now we just need to get Washington to listen to him.

What about Aaron Abano’s performance did you like?

I actually thought Mr. Abano's performance was a bit academic and flat of affect. I have seen Ali Soufan interviewed and Mr. Abano sounds nothing like him. To his credit, his Arabic pronunciation sounds perfect to my (admittedly inexpert) ear.

If you could give Anatomy of Terror a new subtitle, what would it be?

Understanding the Mind of Salafi Jihad

3 people found this helpful

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Interesting

It's long winded at times but it sure is a good book and very interesting

2 people found this helpful

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a deep dive into the leaders of terrorism

a detailed inspection of the roots of terrorism an important read to understand the evil that is Terrorism around the world know thy enemy

1 person found this helpful

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What an incredible work! Top shelf .

The book read like a novel , but was a crash course in terrorism today.

1 person found this helpful

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What every human on the planet needs to know!

I knew terrorism was a problem, but I had no idea how nutty crazy it really was until I listened to this audio book. This should be required reading in high school.

4 people found this helpful

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Great material, ordinary narration

Ali Soufan does a great job of explaining the motivation behind jihadist terrorist organizations. Along the way, you learn that there are so many factions involved and that even different terrorist leaders don't see eye to eye on their vision of jihad. For instance, some crazed leaders even felt that Bin Laden wasn't good enough to be considered a good Muslim.

Also, while Jihad is an Islamic concept, a lot of terrorist ideology is glaringly inconsistent with key tenets of Islam, like not killing fellow Muslims or living in peace with Jews and other religions (which the Prophet did). Ali Soufan makes a great case for the West to better understand the anatomy of terror to effectively counter it.

There are some limits to Ali Soufan's arguments. For instance, he puts too much stock in uneducated and disenfranchised youth being attracted to terrorism. A lot of countries (eg India) have such youth, but don't produce as many terrorists. A bit more academic rigor could help the book. But all in all, it is a great book for anyone seeking to understand the why and how behind terrorism.

The narrator could have been better chosen, for instance getting someone with an Arabic accent.

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Classic Ali Soufan

Ali Soufan once again gives a thorough presentation of Jihadi extremists at a personal and ideological level. He gives a deep discussion on both the most well known extremist actors as well as some of the lesser known organizers of al-Qaeda.

Though unsurprisingly framed around the targeted killing of bin Laden, the most noteworthy contribution in this text is perhaps the most thorough record of AQ operative Saif al-Adel. For this section alone, Soufan's text is worth the read. For any party with an interest in the organizational and operational structure and differences of jihadi communities, this book is a must-read.

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Very insightful and capturing book

Very well written book. The facts and very nicely laid down into a story that can be smoothly followed from Bin Laden to ISIS. Must read /listen to anyone who's interested in the Islamist terrorism history anx prospective history.


The only negative, as an Arabic speaker, I was very challenging to follow what the narrator was saying. It would have been very nice to have am arabic sepakimg narrator or a bit of practice or consulting into those key words sentences that were important enough to be read in Arabic. This was a consistent annoyance throughout the book.

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Comprehensive look at terrorism underpinnings

I was impressed with the extent of knowledge about all the myriad figures participating in the jihadi movement. I was especially impressed the historical and analytical analysis from Chapter 6 to the Conclusion sry end. A wonderful contribution to the topic of terrorism in our times and what must be done to combat it.

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Loved It! Very Informative

Great book to understand al-Qaeda from its evolution, and the abilty to follow key players to the external branches that exist today. i loved how the summation highlighted AQs resiliency and the power behind it. Key take away....cutting off the head of the snake does not kill body when the neck has already grown other ones. Attack the negative ideology (salafi jihadism) to stop the hydra from regrowing.