Delving into the intricacies of a terrorist’s mind

2011-10-26 00:00

TALKING to Terrorists is an attempt to understand what drives terrorists into doing what they do, looking at their emotions before and during the period when they select their targets.

Taylor suggests that a number of terrorist attacks could have been foiled, had it not been for the Western mentality of “we don’t negotiate with terrorists”, and the several intelligence oversights by the American CIA that were to mark the decade after the 9/11 attacks.

In 1999, two young men from the United Arab Emirates with anti-American views left Hamburg for Afghanistan to join training camps in preparation to wage jihadi in Chechnya. The two were joined by two Saudis born in Mecca, who had already obtained American visas.

Because they had visas, the whole plan changed, with Osama bin Laden instructing the two Saudis to go for pilot training in the United States so that they could take control of planes after the hijackings.

They were identified by the CIA, but not registered on the State Department’s tip-off watch list.

In January 2000, the two arrived in Los Angeles, and with assistance from fellow jihadis they moved to San Diego where they signed up with a local flying club.

A pilot told them that they would begin training with small planes, but they made it clear that they wanted to learn how to fly Boeings.

They also showed no interest in learning the takeoffs and landings. Despite being Saudi nationals with limited English vocabularies and with suspicious flying interests, no one brought this to the attention of the authorities. This was a blunder which made 9/11 a success. The flight they hijacked was rammed into the Pentagon.

Information gathered from various terrorists who had been arrested proved to be helpful in aborting future plans to maim more innocent civilians in the name of Holy War against the West — the U.S. and the United Kingdom in particular.

This, however, does not imply that Muslims are terrorists: many have categorically condemned the killing of innocent people.

The book gives an understanding of recruitment, organisation and training of terrorist cells in various parts of Europe and Asia. An important read.

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