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Best Seller
Osama by Jonathan Randal
Paperback $15.00
Sep 13, 2005 | ISBN 9780375708237

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  • Sep 13, 2005 | ISBN 9780375708237

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  • Dec 18, 2007 | ISBN 9780307427168

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"Detailed and fast paced. . . . Of all the flutter of bin Laden and Al Qaeda books, Randal has produced the most readable and informative." —Richard Clarke, The Boston Globe"Essential. . . . well-written and authoritative. . . . [Randal’s] book isn’t a conventional biography. It is more important: a contextualization and explication of the strains of Middle Eastern fundamentalism that have made bin Laden an incurable migraine for the United States." —Atlanta Journal-Constitution"With impressive perspective, the author reveals the underpinnings of jihadism. . . . A skillful, yet highly opinionated, examination of the rise of modern Islamic terrorism." —The Miami Herald“American policymakers would do well . . . to glean perceptions from [this] seasoned man-of-the-world.” —The Washington Post Book World"Fascinating. . . . Better than any previous author, [Randal] explains the volatile regional milieu that enabled a minor son of a Saudi contracting potentate to become a hero." —BusinessWeek"Very worthwhile, illuminating without being alarmist. . . . The beauty of Randal’s narrative is how richly it’s rooted in his reporting experiences." —Christian Science Monitor“[A] meticulous account of the emergence and spread of the terror virus [and a] map of world that produced him and his fellow Islamists.” —New York Times Book Review"Fascinates. . . . The main value of the book is the political background it provides of the Islamic world. Here the author . . . is in his element; he has interviewed ambassadors, security chiefs and heads of state. He has watched their maneuvers and knows their motives." —The Seattle Times"A useful primer about what we know–and all we don’t know–about terrorism." —USA Today“The volume does a nimble and often highly compelling job of leading the reader through the labyrinth of information and speculation about Al Qaeda and the broader jihadi movement.”–New York Times"Wonderful. . . . Randal has combined worldliness, impressive knowledge and a compelling writing style to produce a morbidly fascinating work." —The Plain Dealer"Excellent. . . . Authoritative and most informative. . . . Randal has access to key figures and offers insights that a less experienced correspondent could not provide. . . . [An] insightful analysis of the administration’s current Middle East policy." —St. Louis Post-Dispatch"Richly researched. . . . An interesting and useful book." —Newsday"Absorbing. . . . [Randal writes] with the urgency of first-hand experience, with the authority of a man who’s spent decades seeing the United States through the eyes of the Third World." —San Antonio Express-News "Irresistible. By involving the reader in his own peregrinations, Randal has produced a first-person adventure that blends analysis and reportage." —The News & Observer (Raleigh)"[An] insightful look at the world’s most famous terrorist." —Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel"Compelling. . . . Arresting observations. . . . The author draws on his vast experience to produce a balanced and revealing portrait of the man and the radical Islamic movement. . . . A timely and important work of first-rate reporting that provides invaluable insight." —Flint Journal"Thorough and lucid. . . . [Randal] takes the public Osama and demonstrates the ways, sometimes openly, sometimes shadowy, that he moved through [the Arab and Muslim] world before Sept. 11. . . . Such insight is worth the price of the book. . . . A valuable addition to [Randal’s] much-admired body of work." —Rocky Mountain News"Interesting. . . . Insightful. . . . Worthwhile. . . . Randal is at his best when intuiting the nuances of terrorism and the particular Middle Eastern culture [from] whence it springs. . . . American policymakers would do well to . . . glean perceptions from [him]." —Newark Star-Ledger "Both fascinating and frightening. . . . Seriously deepens the reader’s understanding of bin Laden." —Santa Fe New Mexican"Fascinating. . . . [Randal] provides insight into the leader’s personal life and personality. . . . [His] intimate understanding of the politics of the region make this one of the better biographies of this most elusive man." —Tucson Citizen"Prepare to be chilled: It’s hard to see how one could not be disquieted by Jonathan Randal’s Osama. . . . [He] refuses to sugarcoat anything." —Kansas City Star"Insightful, spare, and quite readable. . . . In this well-researched and thoughtful book, Randal offers us much to reflect upon this man whose idea, movement, and legacy will be with us for a long time to come." —Decatur Daily

Author Essay

With his long-maintained sources in the Middle East and intimate understanding of the region, Jonathan Randal sheds light on Osama bin Laden’s role in the rise of terrorism. Here, Randal uses his years of research to separate fact from fiction when it comes to basic questions Americans have about Osama.

3 reasons why Osama is happy with the Bush administration’s war in Iraq

1. The ideology-driven war dreamed up by Bush’s neoconservative advisors allows foreign jihadi terrorists to blend in with a legitimate nationalist resistance movement against a western military occupation. That’s hard to beat for no cost piggybacking.

2. Participating in the Iraqi resistance to the United States allows the jihadis a foothold in the very heart of the Middle East. Iraq is rich in water as well as oil and is right next door to Osama’s birthplace, Saudi Arabia, which remains his principal target.

3. The presence of foreign jihadis may not please many Iraqis, but in the rest of the Arab and wider Muslim worlds they are seen as hurting the world’s only superpower.

4 myths about Osama

1. He was a boozing skirt chaser as a young man–pure disinformation.

2. He is a religious authority. Not so, he needs more learned Muslims to formulate his fatwas.

3. He hated all things western from his earliest youth. He got on well with Westerners, including Americans, when he was a young man working for his family’s giant construction company, which employed many Western engineers.

4. He is rich as Croesus. The American government created the myth that he was worth $300 million dollars back in 1996, years after his much more modest inheritance
was frozen.

5 facts about Al Qaeda

1. It has survived the capture of as many as two thirds of its top cadre, but still presents a formidable force.

2. Al Qaeda needs far less money to function than the United States believes to be the case.

3. Despite American government suggestions that it has staunched the money flowing into Al Qaeda coffers, in fact that is far from true because informal transfer systems and cash are its stock in trade and the United States has little idea what to do on this score.

4. Although Al Qaeda certainly has trained and financed at least some of the men involved in terrorist operations from Morocco to Istanbul and Bali to Kenya, many of the foot soldiers are locals who were never trained in bin Laden’s camps in Afghanistan in the 1990s. Such is the power of emulation that Osama and September 11th exert.

5. Most of its operations are standard low-tech straight out of western military manuals for guerrilla warfare. September 11th was the main exception. The Madrid train bombings in March 2004 used cheap electronic wristwatches to set off explosives on multiple trains, and that suggests the terrorists are getting smarter and outgrowing suicide car bomb operations.

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