Ali Soufan is a former FBI special agent and renowned counter-terrorism interrogation expert. His book ‘The Black Banners: Inside the Hunt for Al Qaeda’ provides a chilling account of the fight against terrorism over the past 20 years, and is quite possibly the most essential read on the subject out there at the moment.
Soufan provides a look at the inner-workings of Al Queda including detailed information about individuals and the group’s structure. He discusses their ideologies, and explains how knowledge is the key to coercing Al Qaeda members into cooperating. Not water-boarding.
He takes us inside the interrogation rooms and provides first hand accounts of other borderline-torture interrogation techniques implemented by the CIA, which they later excused with false information about the results these techniques produced. Time and time again the distrust between the CIA and FBI is highlighted, leading to a series of missed opportunities and the failure to intercept terrorist plots such as 9/11.
Most shocking is the politicisation of national security by the Bush administration and the affect of this on the FBI’s work. Through Soufan’s account, the harsh and glaring light of truth is shone on scandals that, until recently, were hidden in the murky shadows of ‘classified information.’ An absolute must-read.
‘The Black Banners: inside the Hunt for Al Qaeda.’ was released in the UK on the 26th July 2012.
Reviewed by Francesca Bassenger. Image courtesy of Penguin, with special thanks to Karen Browning.