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The Cell: Inside the 9/11 Plot and Why the FBI and CIA Failed to Stop It [Library Binding]

John Miller , Michael Stone , Chris Mitchell
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Nov. 3 2008
September 11, 2001 marked the beginning of a new era in history, but the forces that triggered those attacks have been in place for years and continue to operate within the United States and abroad. Experts estimate that as many as 500 terrorist cells exist in America today. ABC News journalist John Miller has been tracking this story since his coverage of the first World Trade Center bombing in 1993. He was the first American journalist to interview Osama Bin Laden, and he has a sophisticated knowledge of the structure and workings of extremist organizations. The Cell contains information gleaned from sources within the FBI, CIA, and the local law enforcement communities currently conducting the investigation into the September 11 attacks.
--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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From Publishers Weekly

This eye-opening investigation into anti-American terrorist activities would have been even more shocking if information hadn't already started to dribble out about the inadequacies of the FBI and CIA in tracking and preventing such activities. But every page of this information-packed report seems to announce ineffectual actions, missed opportunities and frustrated agents on the ground blocked by the FBI hierarchy, turf battles and political lack of will. Even by the mid-1990s, when al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden were well known to U.S. authorities, strong action wasn't taken because, one State Department official says here, their acts hadn't exceeded an "acceptable level of terrorism." The 1998 African embassy bombings, for instance, could likely have been prevented, according to the authors. The plot is tangled, but through it Miller, Stone and Mitchell follow two threads from 1990 up to September 11, 2001: first, "the cell," actually a series of terrorist cells, beginning with the one responsible for the 1993 World Trade Center bombing a cell that, in one of their most illuminating revelations, the authors trace directly back to El Sayyid Nosair, convicted of murdering Rabbi Meir Kahane in 1990. The second thread is the Joint Terrorist Task Force, an FBI/NYPD squad whose sharp and dedicated members are the heroes of this tale, doggedly investigating the cells and their connections when not blocked by higher-ups. Miller, now coanchor of ABC TV's 20/20, scored an interview in 1998 with bin Laden, whose chilling words he repeats here ("You will leave [Saudi Arabia] when the youth send you in wooden boxes and coffins"). Miller, Stone (a noted criminal investigative journalist) and Mitchell (a senior editor at The Week) connect a lot of dots in this frightening and important book.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Library Journal

9/11 The attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon crystallized for Americans a reality already well known in other parts of the world: terrorism exists. This book, authored primarily by Miller, an investigative reporter and coanchor of ABC's 20/20, along with reporter Stone and Mitchell, a senior editor at Week, is a sprightly account of how various American law-enforcement agencies, including the FBI, the CIA, and New York City's Joint Terrorism Task Force, struggled to identify and prosecute the shadowy band of international terrorists operating within our borders. It is a cloak-and-dagger tale of missed opportunities, turf wars, and confusion that begins with the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center and culminates in a detailed look at the last months of the hijackers, led by the inscrutable Mohamed el Amir Atta. The authors have interviewed dozens of participants on both sides of this interminable struggle and have produced a useful chronicle of the events that led up to the horrendous attacks. It will take years for all the evidence to come out about how the United States coped with international terrorism at the end of the 20th century. This work represents a good place to start learning about what happened. Recommended for most collections.
Ed Goedeken, Iowa State Univ. Lib., Ames
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Where is G. W. Bush's culpability? Aug. 21 2002
Format:Hardcover
The book puts much of the blame on the CIA and FBI, but what about G. W. Bush? What about his business dealings with the bin Laden family? What about the check Colin Powell gave the Taliban in spring 2001? And why were bin Laden's family (several of whom were in the U.S. on 9/11) given safe passage out of the country just days afterwards?
In the U.K., Salman Rushdie was quoted as saying he could not board a plane in the U.S. just PRIOR to 9/11, based on terrorist fears. (You can find his exact quote with a google command.) So the CIA, FBI, Bush (?) knew something was up. But these facts and more have been ignored by the mainstream U.S. media, including Mr. Miller (to his credit, he does mention the disturbing fact that after being elected, Bush pulled out the two submarines off of Afghanistan who were poised to launch an attack on bin Laden's camp there).
I believe the fairer word for the 9/11 tragedy is not "failure" but "willful ignorance."
Mr. Miller is an excellent journalist and his book is well worth reading, but it is not definitive.
Rosa La Luna
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars eye-opening but frightening saga Aug. 18 2002
Format:Hardcover
Up front let me apologize for being emotional in this review, as this true account is appalling in what should have been. The book describes the evolution of the 1990s through 9/11 of Bin Laden and the Al Queda that will haunt readers forever. The authors tie events together that show the magnitude of the failure of anti-terrorism efforts under three administrations including the present one. The authors claim several opportunities to stop the terrorists were available, but not acted on, as the threat had not incredulously surpassed the "acceptable level of terrorism". That is the frightening thought that especially Clinton and Bush II (even in his first year) could have done more and saved lives. Official inactivity and incompetence (the Attorney General cut the anti-terrorism funding) and missed opportunities led to irate agents unable to overcome politics as usual under presidents from both political parties.

This book is not for those still raw, as it is quite an eye-opening saga. As the country's powers debate homeland security and claim the high ground, they should read this book first so they cannot sleep better at night. While the President vacations; the Attorney General cries security wolf; the Congress posters to gain reelection; and Clinton rewrites his place in history, perhaps each will finally understand the real goal: no future American should suffer like those who seemed to have died for no reason except politics and incompetence.

Harriet Klausner
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5.0 out of 5 stars Required Reading June 28 2004
Format:Paperback
Just finished reading The Cell. If anyone wants to know what went wrong on 9/11 just read this book. To try and blame one person or organization, except for the terrorists, for the death and destruction on 9/11 would be foolish. If the Towers were brought down in 1993 and toppled over each other, the death count would have been well over 100,000. John Miller, Stone and Mitchell do an incredible story detailing the events leading up to 9/11. I don't know the party affliation with any of these men but the story they present is fascinating. The book is summed up the best on page 332; Terrorism is cyclical, left alone it always comes back, usually bolder and more lethal. Additionally the fight against terrorism can't be conducted from afar, it requires in your face old fashion investigation. No matter how many lasers we have, smart bombs, stealth fighters,etc. what we need is 100 Louie Napoli, Don Sadowy and John O'Neils. Book should be required reading for all high school students, never to forget or let your guard down.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A great introduction into 1990s terrorism April 10 2004
Format:Hardcover
Many are asking the question of why the FBI and CIA failed to anticipate and prevent September 11, yet few have delivered as promising an answer as John Miller, Michael Stone and Chris Miller. (All three are journalists; Mr. Miller is one of the few Westerners to have interviewed Osama bin Laden, an account of which we read in the book).
The book begins in 1990 and traces the evolution of US-targeted Islamic terrorism. Starting with the assassination of Rabbi Meir Kahane (founder of the Jewish Defense League), "The Cell" chronicles such events as the bombing of the World Trade Center, the attacks against the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, the attack on the USS Cole, and September 11.
The narrative is fluid, indeed impressively so. Although the authors follow the lives of dozen terrorists and their activities, at no point does the reader feel lost. In fact, "The Cell" is probably as good an introduction as there is on those involved with September 11. What is also striking is the authors' tone: this book really feels like an answer to the question "why the FBI and CIA failed to stop the 9/11," rather than, "who should we blame for September 11."
In the end, the authors believe that America was just not alert enough to anticipate the threat. Inadequate coordination between the FBI, CIA, INS and others also played a big role, as did the fact that politics often undermined the work of intelligent officers. Unless these change, the authors warn, September 11 will not be the last terrorist attack that America suffers.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply put, one of the best books I have ever read
Compellingly written in a non-sensational manner, The Cell details how American intelligence agency bureacracies blinded them to obvious red flags re the hatching 9-11 plot.
Published on June 17 2004 by Cowboy Neal
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Introduction to 9/11 and al-Qaeda
This book is a good place to start when researching the current 'war on terror.' The perspective is American and the writers are journalists and former law enforcement types, so... Read more
Published on March 22 2004 by M. S. MAYFIELD
5.0 out of 5 stars Lessons to learn
Enough blame to go around, but we have learned from our mistakes. Let's not forget. A must read, if you really want to understand how 9/11 came about. Read more
Published on March 4 2004 by John Bowes
4.0 out of 5 stars A psychic helps the FBI and the Victims Go to the Light - A
If you have ever wondered about people who die quickly - if they "go to the light" or wait around as ghosts for a while, and how we can help them transition, you may want... Read more
Published on Dec 14 2003
5.0 out of 5 stars ALL CITIZENS OF EARTH - READ THIS BOOK
Anyone who has an interest in FREEDOM and LIBERTY, should read this book.
9/11 was a scary day, this book outlines day by day the events leading up to it. Read more
Published on Dec 10 2003 by BusDriverNYC
5.0 out of 5 stars Enlightening
This book is a brilliant account of the errors and repeated gaffes made by the American intelligence community in the months and years leading up to 9/11. Read more
Published on July 22 2003 by border_boy
4.0 out of 5 stars Very powerful Read
I enjoyed this book eminsly. Highly Recomend this tyo anyone want to try to understand why The USA was attacked.
Published on June 8 2003 by Julia K Scott
5.0 out of 5 stars History of Terrorism 1990 to 2001
THE CELL is written with the suspense, drama, and emotional impact of a fictional thriller usually found on the bestseller lists. Sorrowfully, it is not fiction. Read more
Published on March 18 2003 by Tim Smith
3.0 out of 5 stars On the trail of the American islamabaddies
Fast-paced, punchy account of the attempts to catch up with Islamic terrorists in America, from just before the first WTC bombing through the mop-up after 9/11. Read more
Published on March 5 2003 by The Sanity Inspector
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Book - But Needs an Index!
This is an excellent book for tackling the history of these attacks and the motivations of those that would commit them. Read more
Published on Jan. 26 2003
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