TERRORISM

2000s

General Books and Articles

S - Sch

Sageman, Marc.

1. Leaderless Jihad: Terror Networks in the Twenty-first Century. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2008.

Hoffman, FA 87.3 (May-Jun. 2008), takes issue with the author's premise that the "true menace" to the United States and the West "is not a revived al Qaeda" but "loose-knit cells of Western-born Muslims or Muslim immigrants studying and working in the West." The reviewer believes that this is a "fundamental misreading of the al Qaeda threat." This work "founders precisely" on what its author "claims are its strengths: the empirical data on which his analysis is based and his technique of examining terrorism as a social movement."

For Sinai, Intelligencer 16.1 (Spring 2008), the author's "research is unique in the field of al Qaeda studies ... because of his 'evidence-based' approach." This is a "masterpiece," but it "is not perfect in all aspects. Some of [Sageman's] arguments are insufficiently explained or inadequately sourced." In addition, his "use of citations is sometimes clumsy." Nonetheless, "Sagemen's incisive observations based on carefully examined evidence, astute insights and scholarship make Leaderless Jihad the gold standard in al Qaeda studies."

Peake, Studies 52.3 (Sep. 2008), finds that the author provides "an insightful chapter [on] the way networks communicate using the Internet to sustain their motivation and to plan operations." The path that Sageman prescribes for countering the al Qaeda threat "makes sense and is deserving of serious attention."

After acknowledging criticisms directed at Leaderless Jihad by others, Goodwin, Perspectives on Politics 6.4 (Dec. 2008) and 7.1 (Mar. 2009), concludes that the work "is a very interesting and thoughtful study," and argues that "it is one of the most important works available on the transnational movement." However, there are "some ambiguities" with the author's data; and "he never presents his data in any standard tabular form."

2. Understanding Terror Networks. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2004.

Pinkley, Studies 49.2 (2005), finds that this work has sufficient limitations that readers "are advised to proceed with caution." Nevertheless, the author manages "to make some useful observations working exclusively with unclassified information, despite its flaws." For Hoffman, FA 87.3 (May-Jun. 2008), this is "an important work" that "provocatively challenged the conventional wisdom that victory in the war on terrorism would be achieved by killing and capturing" al Qaeda's leadership.

Sauter, Mark A., and James Jay Carafano. Homeland Security: A Complete Guide to Understanding, Preventing, and Surviving Terrorism. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2005.

The publisher says this "[t]his indispensable reference ... covers the basics of homeland security such as: national strategies and principles; federal, state and local roles; terrorist history and tactics; cyber-terrorism; business preparedness; critical infrastructure protection; weapons of mass destruction; and key policy issues. Perfect for academic and training classrooms."

Scheuer, Michael F., writing as "Anonymous." Imperial Hubris: Why the West Is Losing the War on Terror. Washington, DC: Brassey's, 2004.

Washington Post, "CIA Insider: The Threat We Refuse to Get," 11 Jul. 2004, B1, publishes "selected portions from various sections" of Imperial Hubris. USA Today, 19 Jul. 2004, 13A, carries a full-page interview with "Anonymous." Killebrew, Parameters 35.2 (Summer 2005), calls this an "insightful, bitter, worrisome book. It is also the most consequential critique of the war on terror yet published, deeply historical, broadly researched, and crisply articulated.... [While] the author's strategic proposals seem to fall short,... his call for objectivity, accountability, and expertise in our response to the Islamic insurgency is much more on target."

According to Pincus, Washington Post, 26 Jun. 2004, this book "sharply attacks the Bush administration's approach to Islamic terrorists, sternly criticizes the decision to invade Iraq and chides officials for trying to create a Western-style democracy in Afghanistan.... The book's author is a 22-year veteran of the CIA who ... served as chief of the bin Laden station from 1996 to 1999, a time when, he complains, senior leaders 'downplayed intelligence' and 'ignored repeated warnings' about the dangers approaching from Islamic terrorists."

Clarke, Washington Post, 27 Jun. 2004, calls Imperial Hubris "a powerful, persuasive analysis of the terrorist threat and the Bush administration's failed efforts to fight it.... Anonymous has painted a detailed picture of th[e] enemy.... The enemy is 'an Islamic insurgency,' a multinational movement to replace governments in the Islamic world with fundamentalist theocracies." For Brooks, NIPQ 20. 4 (Dec. 2004), this "is a well-written work by a man who is obviously well-read and thoughtful." Although the book is "rather repetitive, loosely organized, and duplicative of his previous work [Through Our Enemies' Eyes (2002)]," it is also "eloquent and persuasive."

To Chapman, IJI&C 18.4 (Winter 2005-2006), "Scheuer's book contains strong, provocative, heady stuff, but adds to public knowledge of the Islamic insurgencies that rock the world." Whether the author "is right or wrong, there's logic in what he has written." This work "should be read carefully by U.S. national leaders and not forgotten."

Joyner, Strategic Insights 3.9 (Sep. 2004) [http://www.ccc.nps.navy.mil], believes that the author "is an intelligent, dedicated man who has spent his adult lifetime studying terrorism, Islamist radicalism, and Osama bin Laden. As such, his insights deserve attention. His core argument -- that we are fighting against a large, Islamist jihad rather than a discrete terrorist organization -- is quite compelling. Many of the conclusions that follow from that premise, while exceedingly frightening and anathema to the current mores of American political culture, should be debated. My fear is that the powerful arguments he marshals ... will be largely dismissed because of the sneering tone and style. It will certainly be taken less seriously by the key decision makers whom he insults than it would have had he restrained his desire to vent his frustrations."

Scheuer, Michael F., writing as "Anonymous." Through Our Enemies' Eyes: Osama bin Laden, Radical Islam, and the Future of America. Washington, DC: Brassey's, 2002.

According to Peake, Studies 48.1, the author "seeks to explain bin Laden the man, provides context and reasons for his abhorrance of the West, describes the religious basis for its intensity.... The story of bin Laden is unpleasant and disturbing, but well told. For him and his followers, Islam is the superior religion and way of life.... And since the behavior of the United States appears to Muslims as inconsistent with that view, its physical elimination is warranted."

Schroen, Gary C. First In: An Insider's Account of How the CIA Spearheaded the War on Terror in Afghanistan. Novato, CA: Presidio, 2005.

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