Cover image for The hunt for KSM : inside the pursuit and takedown of the real 9/11 mastermind, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed
The hunt for KSM : inside the pursuit and takedown of the real 9/11 mastermind, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed
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1st ed.
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New York : Little, Brown and Co., 2012.
Physical Description:
xviii, 350 p. : ill., map ; 25 cm.
Drawing on access to key sources as well as jihadis and family members, provides a comprehensive account of the search for Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the elusive mastermind of the September 11 plot against the United States.
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30000010321510 HV6433.M52 Q344 2012 Open Access Book Book

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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.

Author Notes

Josh Meyer is the former chief terrorism reporter for the Los Angeles Times and has reported on international terrorism for more than a decade­. His "Inside Al Qaeda" series was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize and he has twice been part of teams that have won the Pulitzer Prize for security 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.

Reviews 3

Publisher's Weekly Review

The cat-and-mouse game between American investigators and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, architect of the 9/11 attacks and other terrorist spectaculars, unfolds with suspenseful immediacy in this engrossing saga. Journalists McDermott (Perfect Soldiers) and Meyer (the L.A. Times's chief terrorism reporter) present a police procedural starring an FBI agent, Frank Pellegrino, Port Authority detective Matt Besheer, and the inter-agency anti-terrorism experts who tracked KSM and his confederates for a decade before his 2003 capture. The pursuit of their elusive quarry required legwork in Manila strip clubs and Karachi slums, electronic eavesdropping, computer forensics, and cagey, empathetic questioning of suspects. Inevitably, turf battles arose with the CIA, whose impulsiveness, tunnel-vision, and brutal interrogation techniques the authors portray as the ineffective antithesis of the FBI's meticulous sleuthing. The authors' vivid profile of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed depicts a resourceful, charismatic man-he retained his self-possession under CIA interrogation, they contend, while spewing false information that sparked wild goose chases-and paints a detailed portrait of the workaday terrorist life of fund-raising, recruitment, bomb-rigging, and general plotting, all carried out while dodging a global manhunt. The book is disjointed and breathless at times, but it gives us one of the most revealing dispatches yet from the war on terror. Agent: Paul Bresnick Literary Agency. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Booklist Review

Terrorism reporters McDermott and Meyer write a fast-moving and deeply disturbing account of the CIA's role before and after the 2003 capture of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, long considered the mastermind of 9/11. These journalists depict the U.S. intelligence apparatus as schizoid: sometimes freakishly good at predicting movements and placing gadgetry but often blind to what is actually going on. The book moves like a spy novel, cutting from KSM's capture to the seven years before 9/11, when the authors convincingly show that the CIA, FBI, and Department of Justice ignored evidence regarding the danger posed by KSM, and then moving to an indictment of the torture-interrogation of KSM, which led to his withholding vital information. The journalistic foundation is rock solid. The authors, in their acknowledgments, note that their claims are built upon a decade's worth of research, most of it abroad, including interviews with hundreds of sources and tens of thousands of pages of documents, obtained through Freedom of Information requests. Vitally important to the understanding of 9/11 and terrorism.--Fletcher, Connie Copyright 2010 Booklist

Library Journal Review

McDermott (former correspondent, Los Angeles Times; 101 Theory Drive) and Meyer (former chief terrorism reporter, Los Angeles Times) reveal how for almost a decade U.S. intelligence and law-enforcement agencies sought to identify and capture Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM). Along the way, the FBI and CIA refined their perception of KSM, seeing him first as a shadowy figure somehow involved in Islamic terrorism, then identifying him as Mukhtar (the chosen one), a midlevel terrorist operative, and, finally, recognizing him as the top al-Qaeda leader just below Osama bin Laden. McDermott and Meyer describe how bitter conflict, competition, and bungling for years impeded FBI and CIA efforts to find and capture KSM. It's a complicated story-one the authors do a credible job of untangling-involving many individuals with names difficult for some Westerners to pronounce or remember. Lists of "the Hunters" and "the Hunted" in the back are helpful. The story stretches from New York to Bosnia and Herzegovina through the Middle East to the Philippines and back. VERDICT This is an important book for readers interested in an inside view of the U.S. war on terror and how one man, KSM, played such a key role in so many terrorist plots. [See Prepub Alert, 12/12/11.]-Mark K. Jones, Mercantile Lib., Cincinnati (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Prefacep. ix
Chapter 1 Mukhtarp. 3
Chapter 2 Those Withoutp. 23
Chapter 3 Jihadp. 45
Chapter 4 Bojinkap. 59
Chapter 5 Making a Casep. 69
Chapter 6 Sorting It Outp. 81
Chapter 7 A Near Missp. 101
Chapter 8 Thin Airp. 119
Chapter 9 The Plotp. 137
Chapter 10 September 11p. 155
Chapter 11 Panicp. 159
Chapter 12 KSM Ascendantp. 181
Chapter 13 In Plain Sightp. 207
Chapter 14 Betrayalp. 233
Chapter 15 In Captivityp. 249
Chapter 16 The Black Sites and Beyondp. 263
Acknowledgments and Sourcesp. 289
Appendix: Verbatim Transcript of Combatant Status Review Tribunal Hearing for Khalid Sheikh Mohammedp. 292
Notesp. 323
Selected Bibliographyp. 334
Indexp. 336