Sunday, November 30, 2014

Manhunt: The Ten-Year Search for Bin Laden--from 9/11 to Abbottabad by Peter Bergen

Peter Bergen is the author of  4 books on Bin Laden and Al-Qaeda. He is CNN's national security Analyst and in the Manhunt, writes a detailed account of the search for Osama Bin Laden from 9/11 to his eventual assassination on May 2, 2011. Bin Laden and Al Qaeda were the perpetrators of the greatest terrorist attack in the history of Jihad. which left the American people stupefied and enraged. While it also brought Jihad, which had been restricted mostly to two countries i.e. Israel and India to global prominence.

Thus started the manhunt for the leader of Al Qaeda( which translates to 'The Base' in English from Arabic). Bin Laden was of course hiding in Afghanistan under the protection of the Islamic fundamentalist group, Taliban, which was and is headed by the shadowy and enigmatic leader Mullah Omar. Taliban had been propped up by Pakistan to have control over Afghanistan and limit India's perceived hegemony in the region. Taliban is ultra conservative, with it's illiterate leader at the helm. It is mentioned about Mullah Omar in the book that the dude was so radical that he did not allow pictures of even himself, he refused to meet non Muslims and ordered the destruction of the Bamiyan Buddhas.

USA invaded Afghanistan to seek revenge, as Taliban had refused to handover Osama Bin Laden. America overthrew Taliban and launched scathing attacks on Al Qaeda. Many Al Qaeda leaders were either killed or captured but No 1 and No 2 remained elusive i.e. Bin Laden and his deputy Ayman Al Zawahiri.

George Bush, the republican President, kept a personal pyramid type document in his drawer with names of Al Qaeda's top leaders as nodes in the pyramid. He kept striking off names from the list but the head of the terrorist organization remained out of reach.

The book the goes into how Bin Laden was hiding in Tora Bora, and how he managed to escape from there. It also talks about Bin Laden's immediate family. His many wives and children. The author also show how there was fanatical support for Osama within Al Qaeda and from the Muslim world.

America used drones to take out many leaders of the Al Qaeda, killing someone without trial, causing collateral damage and striking people down in a sovereign nation like Pakistan are all ethically challenging questions. Though the Pakistani Dictator, Pervez Musharraf has recently admitted that he allowed the Drone strikes in Pakistan. The Al Qaeda number 3 position quickly became the most dangerous job in the world, as 1 and 2 were always in hiding.

Eventually the CIA traced Bin Laden to a compound in Abbottabad, how many of us know that CIA and the team to capture Bin Laden headed by William McRaven never knew for a 100% that Bin Laden was in the compound till they actually raided the compound, then found and killed him!
A lot of female staff played a pivotal role in capturing Bin Laden, which is funny since the Jihadis think of females as only sex objects.

The Navy Seals were called in to kill Bin Laden, they attacked the compound in May, 2011. Killing Bin Laden's bodyguards and Bin Laden himself along with one of his many wives. All this was done without any knowledge of the Pakistani authorities which the book claims may or may have not have known about the hideout of the most dangerous terrorist in the world. The American officials later did inform Ashfaq Kayani(current military head of Pakistan), to preempt any panicky move by Pakistan, as they blame everything on India.

Great Read, you get to know about how American Intelligence agencies work, and also an insight into Al Qaeda and Osama Bin Laden.

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