Anatomy of Terror

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

Ali Soufan (Author)

Overview | Formats

"Anyone who wants to understand the world we live in now should read this book." —Lawrence Wright

To eliminate the scourge of terrorism, we must first know who the enemy actually is, and what his motivations are. In Anatomy of Terror, former FBI special agent and New York Times best-selling author Ali Soufan dissects Osama bin Laden’s brand of jihadi terrorism and its major offshoots, revealing how these organizations were formed, how they operate, their strengths, and—crucially—their weaknesses. This riveting account examines the new Islamic radicalism through the stories of its flag-bearers, including a U.S. Air Force colonel who once served Saddam Hussein, a provincial bookworm who declared himself caliph of all Muslims, and bin Laden’s own beloved son Hamza, a prime candidate to lead the organization his late father founded.

Anatomy of Terror lays bare the psychology and inner workings of al-Qaeda, the Islamic State, and their spawn, and shows how the spread of terror can be stopped.

Winner of the Airey Neave Memorial Book Prize

Book Details

  • Paperback
  • May 2018
  • ISBN 978-0-393-35588-8
  • 5.5 × 8.3 in / 384 pages
  • Sales Territory: Worldwide

Other Formats

  1. Book CoverAnatomy of Terror: From the Death of bin Laden to the Rise of the Islamic State


Endorsements & Reviews

“Exceptional.… [Soufan] has been tracking Al Qaeda since bin Laden’s first declaration of war on the United States, two decades ago.” — Robin Wright, The New Yorker

“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, New York Times Book Review

“Ali Soufan is our most important chronicler of the rise and spread of Islamist terror movements. A former FBI agent who identified the hijackers of 9/11, and whose interrogation of al-Qaeda members—without torture—led to innumerable breakthroughs, Soufan is a unique resource and a moral beacon. In a time when our intelligence community as well as our country seem to have lost their bearings, his clear voice guides us through the fog of war and partisanship. 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

“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, New York Times

Anatomy of Terror tells the stories of the leaders of al-Qaeda and IS.… [F]or America, the main enemies are still the organized groups abroad.” — 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.” — Harper’s

“Anyone interested in terrorism needs this book:… it provides a blend of history and social and political inspection that lends authority and insights.” — Midwest Book Review

“A concise, accessible, enormously readable account of the trajectory of al-Qaeda.… In a dizzying scenario of violence, Soufan provides clarity and balance.” — Kirkus Reviews, starred review

“Highly informative and compelling.… An important book for everyone who wants to understand the influence of bin Laden and al-Qaeda on today’s terrorist groups.” — Nader Entessar, Library Journal

“A deep look at the inner workings, ideology, internal politics, and strategies of modern Islamic terrorism.… Soufan reveals himself to be a true expert.” — Publishers Weekly

Also by Ali Soufan All

  1. Book CoverThe Black Banners: The Inside Story of 9/11 and the War Against al-Qaeda


All Subjects