A riveting, panoramic look at "homegrown" Islamist terrorism from 9/11 to the present.
Since 9/11, more than 300 Americans - born and raised in Minnesota, Alabama, New Jersey, and elsewhere - have been indicted or convicted of terrorism charges. Some have taken the fight abroad: An American was among those who planned the attacks in Mumbai, and more than 80 US citizens have been charged with ISIS-related crimes. Others have acted on American soil, as with the attacks at Fort Hood, at the Boston Marathon, and in San Bernardino. What motivates them, how are they trained, and what do we sacrifice in our efforts to track them?
Paced like a detective story, United States of Jihad tells the entwined stories of the key actors on the American front. Among the perpetrators are Anwar al-Awlaki, the New Mexico-born radical cleric who became the first American citizen killed by a CIA drone and who mentored the Charlie Hebdo shooters; Samir Khan, whose Inspire webzine has rallied terrorists around the world, including the Tsarnaev brothers; and Omar Hammami, an Alabama native and hip-hop fan who became a fixture in al Shabaab's propaganda videos until fatally displeasing his superiors.
Drawing on his extensive network of intelligence contacts, from the National Counterterrorism Center and the FBI to the NYPD, Peter Bergen also offers an inside look at the controversial tactics of the agencies tracking potential terrorists, from infiltrating mosques to massive surveillance; at the bias experienced by innocent observant Muslims at the hands of law enforcement; at the critics and defenders of US policies on terrorism; and at how social media has revolutionized terrorism.
Lucid and rigorously researched, United States of Jihad is an essential new analysis of the Americans who have embraced militant Islam both here and abroad.
"Guided by evidence and deep experience, Peter Bergen has become one of America's most important analysts of Islamist militancy and terrorism. Here he again provides a timely, sober, fact-based study of the diverse and fragmentary character of homegrown violent jihadists. He places the scale of the threat into accurate perspective, without minimizing its dangers. Every American should read this book." (Steve Coll, author of Ghost Wars and Private Empire)
"It is hard to imagine a timelier book than this one. Peter Bergen does what he does best - telling mesmerizing stories that weave together exhaustive research to illuminate a critically important subject. He shows us that the Americans among us who turn to jihad are not who we imagine them to be, suggesting ways in which we can be simultaneously more humane and more secure." (Anne-Marie Slaughter, author of The Idea That Is America; president and CEO of New America)
"With his latest book, Peter Bergen shows once again that he has become the premier chronicler of jihadism in the 21st century. Read it and come away with a new understanding of America and of terrorism." (Thomas E. Ricks, author of The Generals and Fiasco)
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A fascinating and balanced look at a contentious topic
- Joshua M Cochin