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The Black Banners

The Inside Story of 9/11 and the War Against al-Qaeda

Ali H. Soufan (Author)

With Daniel Freedman

Overview | Inside the Book

A book that will change the way we think about al-Qaeda, intelligence, and the events that forever changed America.

On September 11, 2001, FBI Special Agent Ali H. Soufan was handed a secret file. Had he received it months earlier—when it was requested—the attacks on New York and Washington could have been prevented. During his time on the front lines, Soufan helped thwart plots around the world and elicited some of the most important confessions from terrorists in the war against al-Qaeda—without laying so much as a hand on them. Most of these stories have never been reported before, and never by anyone with such intimate firsthand knowledge.

This narrative account of America's successes and failures against al-Qaeda is essential to an understanding of the terrorist group. We are taken into hideouts and interrogation rooms. We have a ringside seat at bin Laden's personal celebration of the 9/11 bombings. Such riveting details show us not only how terrorists think and operate but also how they can be beaten and brought to justice.

Book Details

  • Hardcover
  • September 2011
  • ISBN 978-0-393-07942-5
  • 6.6 × 9.6 in / 608 pages
  • Sales Territory: Worldwide including Canada, but excluding the British Commonwealth.

Endorsements & Reviews

“In a new memoir, a former F.B.I. agent who tracked Al Qaeda before and after the Sept. 11 attacks paints a devastating picture of rivalry and dysfunction inside the government’s counterterrorism agencies. The book describes missed opportunities to defuse the 2001 plot, and argues that other attacks overseas might have been prevented, and Osama bin Laden found earlier, if interrogations had not been mismanaged.” — Scott Shane, New York Times

“... this is an absorbing account of America's fightback after 9/11, full of revealing or amusing details ... So ultimately this book is cheering as well as fascinating, because it reveals the dedication of those who defend us, as well as the weird frailties of those who try to kill us.” — The Sunday Times

“Although many have claimed to tell the inside story of the hunt for al-Qaeda, Ali Soufan has a better claim than most ... this is one of the most valuable and detailed accounts of its subject to appear in the past decade.” — The Economist

“To those inside the U.S. government Soufan has long been something of a legend. He conducted the most effective and fruitful interrogations of Al Qaeda suspects during the war on terrorism, and save for some inexplicable failures by the CIA, he and his team might well have prevented 9/11. Soufan has since left the FBI and written a gripping account of his experiences, brimming with details about Al Qaeda and its historical development.” — Harpers Magazine

“Soufan describes many instances in which he uses his knowledge and a savvy rapport to exploit the personal foibles and intellectual weaknesses of his subjects ... The story of America's most famous Arab American FBI agent couldn't come at a more poignant time.” — Mother Jones

“… the revelations uncovered are worth it; this is a story that had to be told.” — Booklist Online

“Superb. An education. And the best book on al Qaeda out there, bar none.” — Robert Baer, former CIA official and author of See No Evil, Sleeping with the Devil, and The Devil We Know

“Unfortunately, we only have one Ali Soufan. Had American intelligence listened to him, 9/11 might never have happened. No one did more to unravel the story of al-Qaeda than Ali Soufan. Thankfully, he's left another legacy in this book. Anyone who wants to know what really happened should read it. It's an inspiring but wrenching story told from the heart of a great American.” — Lawrence Wright, author of The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11

“In its cynical decision to censor the memoir of former F.B.I. Special Agent Ali Soufan, the C.I.A. is seeking to punish a critic and to obscure history.” — Lawrence Wright, New Yorker

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