The definitive account of the decade-long pursuit and capture of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the terrorist mastermind of 9/11
Only minutes after United 175 plowed into the World Trade Center’s South Tower, people in positions of power correctly suspected who was behind the assault: Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda. But it would be 18 months after September 11 before investigators would capture the actual mastermind of the attacks, the man behind bin Laden himself.
That monster is the man who got his hands dirty while Osama fled; the man who was responsible for setting up Al Qaeda’s global networks, who personally identified and trained its terrorists, and who personally flew bomb parts on commercial airlines to test their invisibility. That man withstood waterboarding and years of other intense interrogations, not only denying Osama’s whereabouts but making a literal game of the proceedings, after leading his pursuers across the globe and back. That man is Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, and he is still, to this day, the most significant Al Qaeda terrorist in captivity.
In THE HUNT FOR KSM, Terry McDermott and Josh Meyer go deep inside the US government’s dogged but flawed pursuit of this elusive and dangerous man. One pair of agents chased him through countless false leads and narrow escapes for five years before 9/11. And now, drawing on a decade of investigative reporting and unprecedented access to hundreds of key sources, many of whom have never spoken publicly-as well as jihadis and members of KSM’s family and support network-this is a heart-pounding trip inside the dangerous, classified world of counterterrorism and espionage.
About Terry McDermott and Josh Meyer
Josh Meyer is the former chief terrorism reporter for The Los Angeles Times and has reported on international terrorism for more than a decade. The “Inside Al Qaeda” series he worked on was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize and he has twice been part of teams that have won the Pulitzer Prize for reporting. Meyer is also a screenwriter and television producer, who co-created (with Michael Connelly), wrote and produced the network TV crime drama Level 9. He currently is on the faculty of the Medill School of Journalism, where he is director of education and outreach for the school’s groundbreaking National Security Journalism Initiative based in Washington, D.C.
Terry McDermott is the author of Perfect Soldiers (HarperCollins, 2005), and 101 Theory Drive (Pantheon, 2010). His work has appeared in The New Yorker, The Wilson Quarterly, Columbia Journalism Review, the Los Angeles Times Magazine and Pacific Magazine. McDermott worked at eight newspapers for more than thirty years, most recently for ten years at The Los Angeles Times, where he was a national correspondent.
To this day, the bleary-eyed visage of the 9/11 mastermind being hauled off by authorities after a successful raid on his hideout in 2003 remains the most recognizable image of the hated international terrorist. McDermott (101 Theory Drive: A Neuroscientist’s Quest for Memory, 2010, etc.) andLos Angeles Times chief terrorism reporter Meyer explode that superficial frame with a taut, espionage-thriller–like narrative. The authors render characters on both sides of the law—the hunters and the hunted alike—in rich detail, ably evoking their clear motives and desires. While Osama bin Laden became the main symbol of America’s war on terror, it was actually KSM who tirelessly traveled the globe recruiting young Muslim men for his ongoing war on the West, directing their actions, outfitting their operations and setting them loose upon an unsuspecting populace. FBI Special Agent Frank Pellegrino was on his heels from the very beginning, when, in 1993, KSM tried to destroy the World Trade Center with a truck bomb left in a tower garage. During that time, write the authors, none of Pellegrino’s superiors seemed interested in his investigations, but ultimately, a decade-long game of cat-and-mouse ensued, marked largely by frustration, futility and missed opportunities. – Kirkus Reviews
The Secret Hunt For The Mastermind Of Sept. 11
NPR Book Review – April 7, 2012 (Excerpt)
After the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, there was one man the American public wanted captured: Osama bin Laden. There was also a secret hunt going on for someone else, the real mastermind of the attacks.
That man was Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, and he’s the focus of Josh Meyer and Terry McDermott’s new book, The Hunt for KSM: Inside the Pursuit and Takedown of the Real 9/11 Mastermind, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.”
“If Khalid Sheikh Mohammed had been taken off the battlefield or captured when the authorities had a chance to do that in the mid-’90s, there simply would not have been a 9/11 attack,” Meyer tells guest host of weekends on All Things Considered Laura Sullivan.
This week, the Department of Defense filed charges against Mohammed, who has been held at Guantanamo Bay since 2006. The DOD accuses him of being responsible for the killing of 2,970 people. [Read the full article...]
Book review: ‘The Hunt for KSM’ is a true thriller
The Los Angeles Times Book Review – May 7, 2012 (Excerpt)
The tale told by former Los Angeles Times reporters Terry McDermott and Josh Meyer in “The Hunt for KSM,” the story of the pursuit, capture and interrogation of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, mastermind of9/11, at times so resembles something straight out of “24″ or the Bourne movies that the authors have to keep reminding the reader that this is for real. On the one hand, “The Hunt for KSM” is a flat-out thriller. On the other, it lays out aspects of our factual contemporary world that are far more ambiguous, internecine and dangerous than anything Hollywood dare contemplate.
Khalid Shaikh Mohammed was born in 1965, in Kuwait, to an immigrant family on the wrong side of the caste system. At school he excelled at science and got the chance to study engineering at a small college in Murfreesboro, N.C. While there he endured minor hazing and began to indulge a hatred of America. In Afghanistan he became an Arab jihadi, fighting to defeat the occupying Soviet army. He was, McDermott and Meyer write, “an adept and relentless networker with a gift for small talk.” He had a reputation as a charmer, and as a prankster. His nephew Ramzi Yousef was behind the first attempt to blow up the World Trade Center in 1993. [Read the full article...]
“The Hunt For KSM: Inside the Pursuit and Takedown of the Real 9/11 Mastermind, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed” by Terry McDermott and Josh Meyer
The Washington Post Book Review – June 8, 2012 (Excerpt)
Last month, the alleged mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, Khalid Sheik Mohammed, walked into a military courtroom at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and tried to wreak havoc. He cracked jokes with his four co-defendants, ignored the judge when he addressed him and spent part of the proceedings reading a magazine. After a 13-hour arraignment, he refused to enter a plea.
KSM, as he is known, is equal parts clowning buffoon and evil genius. He cracks jokes one minute and holds courtrooms spellbound with his admissions the next. His ego is legendary. His original Sept. 11 plan included a media event. He wanted to hijack an additional plane, land it at a major U.S. airport and then, from the tarmac, explain to America why it was under attack. Osama bin Laden is said to have diplomatically called that part of the plot a little “too complicated.” [Read the full article...]
Elusive Enemies - Books About the Pursuit of Al Qaeda
The New York Times Book Review – July 6, 2012 (Excerpt)
More than a decade after 9/11, it seems safe to say, the global war on terror has been both an extraordinary success and a colossal failure.
First the good news: Since Sept. 11, 2001, the day the war unofficially began, Islamic extremists have killed just a handful of Americans on United States soil, nearly all of them members of the military. Al Qaeda is in retreat. Through the use of covert intelligence, special operations and drone strikes, we’ve managed to take down or take out many of its senior leaders.
At the same time, our intelligence agencies have demonstrated an almost mind-boggling inability to work together. We invaded Iraq, spending hundreds of billions of dollars on a long military campaign that claimed thousands of American lives and played right into the hands of our enemies by uniting Al Qaeda and the Iraqi insurgency. We tortured prisoners, not only staining our nation’s reputation but surely swinging more young Muslims to the cause of radical Islam than any Qaeda recruiting video ever could. We are still fumbling with how to try captured combatants, and what to do with those whom we don’t want to, or can’t, prosecute.
“The Hunt for KSM,” an in-depth account of the pursuit and capture of the architect of 9/11, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, gives us the war on terror at its best and worst. Here we have the story of dogged agents painstakingly cultivating intelligence and running down every semi-credible lead as they chase one of the world’s most dangerous terrorists across the globe. [Read the full article...]
THE LONDONDERRY AIR
Testament of an Ulster Gunman A Novel by Garrad Gawler
It all changed for Charles Cunningham, a Physics teacher at the local College of Technology in the County Derry town of Maddenstown, on a June afternoon in 1973 when a bomb exploded in his neighborhood. He answers an advertisement by the UDR, the Ulster Defence Regiment, but, in the time to come, he will experience the consequences of his decisions, and how his involvement complicates matters with family and friends, Protestants and Catholics alike, to an unexpected degree.
With “The Londonderry Air – Testament of an Ulster Gunman” Garrad Gawler describes in minute detail and with an astonishing level of authenticity not only the inner workings of the Ulster Defence Regiment, but also the activities of underground paramilitary groups of regular citizens who planned and carried out the assassination of suspected Republican terrorists in their neighborhood.
We are the only country that makes guns, including military-style assault weapons, available to anyone who wants to buy them. This is not freedom. It is a tyranny of death and destruction — a tyranny of which the National Rifle Association is proud. The Washington Post
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