The Cell: Inside the 9/11 Plot and Why the FBI and CIA Failed to Stop It
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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 accusatory books about how the September 11 attacks could have been prevented are being published at a pace not seen since the assassination of JFK. These three reporters combine their considerable expertise and offer a better insight than most, owing to their familiarity with Islamic terrorist groups and Miller's incredible face-to-face interview with Osama bin Laden. They do well in laying the foundation for placing the blame on FBI and CIA officials, going back as far as the PanAm accident in Lockerbie, Scotland, and up to the attack on the U.S.S. Cole in Yemen Harbor. Unfortunately, listening to their account of the myriad leads to who was actually behind the various attacks is often confusing. Perhaps the unabridged version would do a better job of separating the various players with similar sounding names. That aside, the authors do manage to pinpoint moments in time when events might have been different if agencies cooperated, the departments of State and Defense were not always at odds, and the age-old practice of self-preservation were not so prevalent in the U.S. government. Read by Miller, this highly intelligent and challenging book sheds light on what culminated in the worst terrorist attack in history. Recommended for all public library and military collections.
Joseph L. Carlson, Lompoc P.L., CA
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
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
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.
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.
Most recent customer reviews
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
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 morePublished on March 22 2004 by markm
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 morePublished on March 4 2004 by John Bowes
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 morePublished on Dec 14 2003
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
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 morePublished on July 22 2003 by border_boy
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
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 morePublished on March 18 2003 by Tim Smith
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 morePublished on March 5 2003 by The Sanity Inspector