Well written and immensely informative. The story of Al Qa'ida and the search to destroy it. The author gives the background and information on the events which wasn't given in the Media. There is the insight of two FBI Special Agents (Phillip Mudd and Arthur Cummings)who led the search for the terrorists. The Terrorist, described in the book, has little in common outside of a strong belief in Jihad, and that Islam is being targeted by the West. Two the terrorist were married with young children they left behind. Their wife's were totally unaware of there activities. Some were well educated and had good jobs. You get a more secure feeling about the security efforts going on to prevent these attacks, but also remain worried about the threats that aren't be picked up. The Author's conclusion seems to agree with what the Obama Administration is currently following of not putting "boots on the ground" and effective drone operation to kill the Al Qa'ida leadership which has been very effective.
Hunting in the Shadows is a very interesting account of al Qaeda's operations and status since 9/11. This chronicles the various operations conducted or inspired by al Qaeda and the various individuals in carrying out the plots and the aftermath. What the author argues is that al Qaeda's operations come in waves in which operations are planned grow strength and attempted or carried out followed by a lull as those attempts are responded to. For example the first wave began with the US Embassy bombings in 1998 and crested wit the 9/11 attacks. The wave then ebbed as the US began operations to destroy al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan only to rise once again as the US invaded Iraq. As one reads it becomes clear how the US adapted to it's strategy fighting al Qaeda and likewise how al Qaeda attempted to cope with the changing battlefield and challenges of becoming gradually decentralized as leaders were systematically killed or captured.
One thing readers can appreciate is the lack of partisanism. Dr. Jones writes objectively; pointing out the various policy flaws and failures of Washington as well as the strengths of those pursuing al Qaeda. We are good at hunting and responding but it appears prevention and identifying plots and plotters is still weak. One thing is clear: we got lucky on several occasions that al Qaeda trained bombers such as the shoe bomber, Richard Reid, the Christmas day underwear bomber,and the NYC Times Square car bomb attempt were pretty amateurish.
Dr. Jones, a RAND employee, also offers suggestions that policy makers would be wise to heed. The reduction of conventional combat forces in Iraq is starting to pay off while the use of clandestine CIA and law enforcement assets and special operations to systematically pick off al Qaeda one by one, thus leaving a small foot print, is proving to be more successful.
The author believes, and I agree in hindsight, that the Iraq invention helped al Qaeda in the short run by giving excused to would be terrorist recruits to defend what they perceive as an infidel incursion into Muslim lands and diverting critical assets away from the central al Qaeda threat based in Afghanistan and Pakistan. In the long run I believe the Iraq invasion will prove worthy despite the lack of prudence at the time of the invasion in March 2003.
Anybody interested in a concise look at where al Qaeda now stands and how we've done fighting against them would really enjoy and appreciate this book. Highly recommended.
This book is an essential read about the war on terror, such as it is. It breaks the war into three waves starting with 9/11 and goes from there. With the exception of a predilection for describing the terrorists complexion/hair/etc. in detail (I guess Jones is trying to show how some manage to "slip past," but I just found it annoying), this is a well-annotated (I love reading bibliographies for some reason. Always seems to lead to more good books), fairly thorough and comprehensive look at al Qaida and its offshoots and the run up to what may — or may not — be a fourth wave of terrorism. Coming from a small-unit specops background, I hope the author's prediction that the future of dealing with terrorist will fall to the spec ops family, rather than the massive interventionists, but somehow I doubt it. Nonetheless, a good,scholarly-yet-unboring look at today's world and the threats we face. The author is a senior political science analyst with RAND and specializes in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and al Qaida, et al. He definitely knows al Qaida. This isn't a "war story." this is about terrorism: what it is, how it works, what its faces are, how difficult detection is, etc., But it does read like a thriller at times. I'll re-read it down the line.
This book was required for my International Relations class on Terrorism, very interesting read. Jones writes in a manner that very much makes it read like a novel which I appreciate given how dry other academic material on the subject can be. His analysis on modern terrorism occurring in waves is very spot on given the facts. Jones knows his stuff and I'd say this is a must read for anyone wishing to objectively understand the facts of the War on Terrorism and how policies might be structured to better combat it.
I was lucky to meet the author at a seminar a few months ago and couldn't wait to read his book. Seth Jones is a true counterterrorism expert and a great writer. He goes into remarkable behind the scenes detail of many of the major terrorism events in the US over the past ten years. The story lines are amazing and the writing is gripping. The behind the scenes efforts to deal with al Qaeda are extraordinary and I gained an enormous appreciation for both the challenges our counterterrorism experts face and what they accomplish. A must read!
Hunting in the shadows captures the imagination and chronicles the ongoing fight on global terrorism. The author provides detailed depictions of our successes as well as the failures of the intelligence and law enforcement communities to "connect the dots" and detect the numerous plots/attacks around the global. To read some of the detail is both alarming and reassuring that Intelligence professionals around the globe are hard at work on a 24/7 basis to detect and deter terrorist plots. But their efforts must be ongoing because they have to be right all the time why the terrorists only have to be right once to create the uncertainty they desire to change our way of life.