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The Black Banners: The Inside Story Of 9/11 And The War Against Al-qaeda Hardcover – Sep 27 2011

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 448 pages
  • Publisher: WW Norton; 1 edition (Sept. 27 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393079422
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393079425
  • Product Dimensions: 16.8 x 4.1 x 24.4 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 998 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #82,401 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


“In a new memoir, a former F.B.I. agent who tracked Al Qaeda before and after the Sept. 11 attacks paints a devastating picture of rivalry and dysfunction inside the government’s counterterrorism agencies. The book describes missed opportunities to defuse the 2001 plot, and argues that other attacks overseas might have been prevented, and Osama bin Laden found earlier, if interrogations had not been mismanaged.” — Scott Shane (New York Times)

“Although many have claimed to tell the inside story of the hunt for al-Qaeda, Ali Soufan has a better claim than most ... this is one of the most valuable and detailed accounts of its subject to appear in the past decade.” — The Economist

“To those inside the U.S. government Soufan has long been something of a legend. He conducted the most effective and fruitful interrogations of Al Qaeda suspects during the war on terrorism, and save for some inexplicable failures by the CIA, he and his team might well have prevented 9/11. Soufan has since left the FBI and written a gripping account of his experiences, brimming with details about Al Qaeda and its historical development.” — Harpers Magazine

“… the revelations uncovered are worth it; this is a story that had to be told.” — Booklist Online

“In its cynical decision to censor the memoir of former F.B.I. Special Agent Ali Soufan, the C.I.A. is seeking to punish a critic and to obscure history.” — Lawrence Wright (New Yorker)

About the Author

Ali H. 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.

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Customer Reviews

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Format: Hardcover
The Black Banners is a totally engrossing read, for anyone interested in Al Queada, Bin Laden, 911, and the endless web of twisted, complex stories and issues that are part of this never-ending tragedy. For the first time, we really get to know many previously unreleased inside details through the personal story of Ali H. Soufan. The United States and the FBI were lucky to have such a committed agent, who contributed so much to the investigations of Al Queada both before and after 911. Soufan is without doubt an extremely brave, loyal, and intelligent man, but it seems the CIA and the highest levels of the US government under George W. Bush didn't seem to agree with the way he did things. The details of how the CIA withheld crucial information that could have possibly intercepted the 911 terrorists before they could strike, and then denied it afterwards, are very disturbing. The conflict between Soufan's methods of interrogation, which resulted in a huge amount of valuable information, and the CIA's rejection of those methods in favour of enhanced techniques like waterboarding, are also shocking. The CIA's lies, denials, and failures are laid out by Soufan in complete detail. Obviously this has not made Soufan popular with the CIA, as they have heavily redacted large portions of this book, which makes some sections virtually unreadable. The worst part of the redactions are the totally ridiculous blacking out of personal pronouns like "I", "my", "me" and "myself". This happens numerous times, and it's really puzzling as to what purpose this serves----the reader can clearly see where these words apply. The "Frontline" show has a great report on this book, and a great interview with Ali Soufan that should definitely be watched by any reader of this book. An absolutely indispensable book for anyone interested in the war against Islamic terrorism.
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By Captain Canuck on March 21 2015
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
After I heard Ali Soufan interviewed on the Rachel Maddow show I ordered the book. I was fascinated at the idea that critical info was available to have thwarted on the 9/11 terrorists' plot prior to the attacks. Even though several paragraphs are redacted in the 2010 book, you can still make out a good portion of what was missing. I found it intriguing that the internal bureaucracy, personality conflicts & turf-wars of the plethora of agencies within the US intelligence & criminal communities stalled the marrying of all known information such that terrorist plots could be successfully completed. Whaaaat? you say. Yes, it was all known...but not all on one playing field. The frustration of the author is most evident.
Also, revealing how interrogation methods are so successful without torture! Torture is not given much credence, in fact, it's even counter productive.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Although this book is non fiction parts of it read like a novel. Ignore the lengthy list of Al Queda leaders and quod will find your self in an amazing exposé on the terrorism in the decades leading up to 9/11 and ending with finding Bin Lauden. Ari Soufan has written a gripping account of the FBI and the CIA as they work through the interrogation of terrorists captured after the bombing of the US ship in Yemen. The challenges they faced at each if these interrogations because of interference by the Ambassador , the lack of sharing of information. Between the two agencies and the introductions of brutal interrogation techniques are described in great detail throughout the book. I highly recommend it or anyone who wants to find out why 9/11 was not prevented.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is a remarkable book, detailing the many successes and failures of the American intelligence agencies in the years leading up to and after 9/11. Soufan's experiences and his strident opposition of "enhanced interrogation techniques" makes for a great read. It's just a shame sections of the book have been redacted at the request of the CIA - one suspects to hide their numerous mistakes - so that we don't learn the full account of the author's experiences.
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