The Terror Years: From al-Qaeda to the Islamic State
The Terror Years goes deeper into the personalities and ideologies that fostered terrorism and the war being fought against terror. Ayman al-Zawahiri was the brains behind Al-Qaeda, his fundamental beliefs fueling a desire to change Egypt and then later to fight the U.S. His teaming up with Osama Bin Laden led to the terror conspiracy that culminated on 9/11/01. Their criminal trail would be tracked and investigated by men like John O’Neill, who served as head of FBI Counterterrorism until being forced out of the Bureau and later perishing at the World Trade Center while serving as head of security. The intelligence gaps between the CIA and FBI are pointed to as glaring reasons why the attacks could happen. These gaps are highlighted again with respect to the presence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, which lead to the disastrous invasion in 2003 that paved the way for the further growth of terrorist organizations such as ISIS. The conflicts, whether they be in Iraq, Afghanistan, or Israel, seem to be never ending; but is an end possible?
Lawrence Wright previously examined the 9/11 attacks in his brilliant book The Looming Tower. The Terror Years goes further in detailing the aftermath of the attacks and their ramifications. Wright also dovetails profiles of people like O’Neill, Ali Soufan, and Mike McConnell with his travels to Saudi Arabia and Syria as well as with an examination of Gaza. Each chapter is essential to understanding this long war while also acknowledging the ideals behind it. A powerful book.