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Anatomy of Terror

From the Death of bin Laden to the Rise of the Islamic State


Ali Soufan (Author)

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A compelling, definitive account of how and why bin Laden’s ideology keeps rising from the dead.

In 2011, while the Muslim world was consumed with the Arab Spring, Osama bin Laden saw an opportunity: “the next stage,” he declared, “will be the reinstating of the rule of the caliphate." Within weeks, he was shot by a US Navy SEAL. Now, the group’s affiliates have swollen and Islamic State—al-Qaeda’s most brutal spinoff to date—proclaims itself the reborn caliphate bin Laden foretold.

Ali Soufan dissects bin Laden’s brand of jihadi terrorism, revealing how these organisations were formed, how they operate, their strengths and their weaknesses. “Revealing and timely” (The New York Times), Anatomy of Terror lays bare the psychology and inner workings of al-Qaeda, IS and their spawn, and shows how the spread of terror can be stopped.


“Revealing and timely... Soufan writes with immense knowledge and authority... Anatomy of Terror not only tells a gripping story but is filled with insights that put today’s terror attacks by the Islamic State and Al Qaeda in perspective with the history and complicated geopolitics of the region.” — Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times

“Into this moment of counterterrorism policy despair, Ali Soufan, one of America’s original terror warriors, has returned to help us take stock... Soufan retells the Qaeda story from the beginning, enriching that now oft-told tale with newer materials.” — Charlie Savage, The New York Times Book Review

“Mr Soufan is at his most interesting in describing in detail the ambiguous role of Iran in the arrest, and then the release, of senior al-Qaeda figures fleeing Afghanistan—including Hamza bin Laden, Osama's son—to be used "either as leverage or as attack dogs".” — The Economist

“Ali Soufan is our most important chronicler of the rise and spread of Islamist terror movements... Anyone who wants to understand the world we live in now should read this book.” — Lawrence Wright, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Looming Tower and The Terror Years

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