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bin Laden: The Man Who Declared War on America par [Bodansky, Yossef]
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Longueur : 464 pages Composition améliorée: Activé Page Flip: Activé
Langue : Anglais

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Shortly after terrorists led by Osama bin Laden attacked the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998, President Bill Clinton ordered retaliatory missile strikes against targets in Afghanistan and Sudan. It was the first time the United States had responded to an individual terrorist with such overwhelming military force. Bin Laden, of course, is no run-of-the-mill rabble-rouser; Clinton called him "perhaps the preeminent organizer and financier of international terrorism in the world today." That's quite a label for someone who, as biographer Yossef Bodansky describes, "lives with his four wives and some fifteen children in a small cave in eastern Afghanistan" without running water. Yet he is "a principal player in a tangled and sinister web of terrorism-sponsoring states, intelligence chieftains, and master terrorists." Remarkably little is known about the man; as Bodansky reveals, even the year of bin Laden's birth is uncertain. This book, then, is more than the story of a single terrorist. It's a description of a whole movement waging a jihad--holy war--against the United States in the belief that America's modernizing influence on Arab nations thwarts Islamic fundamentalist goals. Bin Laden is strikingly current, extremely well informed, and thoroughly detailed. Readers interested in facts about the Middle East's violent underworld will find it fascinating--and chilling. Bodansky notes that bin Laden has become a hero to radical Muslim youth, and Osama is now a very popular baby name in many Arab countries. --John J. Miller


NOW IN HIS MID-FORTIES, a university graduate with computer skills, Osama bin Laden lives with his four wives and some fifteen children in a small cave in eastern Afghanistan. They have no running water and only a rudimentary heating system against the extreme cold of winter. Bin Laden is always on guard against assassins, commando raids, and air strikes. Had he followed the path chosen for him by his father, bin Laden could have been a respected building contractor in Saudi Arabia and a billionaire in his own right. Instead he freely elected to abandon the life of affluence and commit himself to waging a jihad under extremely harsh conditions.

Osama bin Laden is not the only Islamist who has abandoned a good career and comfortable lifestyle in order to wage a jihad. Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri -- bin Laden's right-hand man -- now in his late forties, could have been one of Egypt's leading pediatricians but gave up a promising career and affluence to fight the Egyptian government. He then refused political asylum in Western Europe (with a generous stipend) and ended up living in eastern Afghanistan not far from bin Laden.

Although bin Laden and Zawahiri are the most notorious Islamist terrorists, there are hundreds like them. These dedicated commanders in turn lead thousands of terrorists in a relentless and uncompromising holy war against the United States and the West as a whole. The bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998 were the latest but by far not the last shots in this rapidly escalating war of terrorism. What makes these individuals -- the leaders and symbols of the new Islamist upsurge -- commit themselves to this kind of war?

The rise of the new radical Islamist elite is a recent phenomenon in the developing world. These leaders, from the affluent and privileged segment of society, are highly educated and relatively Westernized. They are not the underprivileged, impoverished, and embittered isolates who usually constitute the pool that breeds terrorists and radicals. These Islamist terrorist leaders are different from the typical European middle-class revolutionaries and terrorists -- from the anarchists of the nineteenth century to the Communist revolutionaries of the late twentieth century -- because the Islamists have become popular leaders of the underprivileged masses, while the European terrorists remained isolated from a generally hostile population. Only Ernesto "Che" Guevara -- the Argentinian doctor turned revolutionary fighter of the early 1960s -- came close to being the kind of populist leader these Islamists are.

To understand these Islamist leaders -- particularly Osama bin Laden -- one needs to understand their break with their past, their motivation, the fire in their veins, and the depth of their hatred of the United States and what it stands for.

OSAMA BIN LADEN, Ayman al-Zawahiri, and their compatriots, mostly Saudis and Egyptians, are the product of the tumultuous 1970s and 1980s. Their entire lives, from their early years up until the time they rejected a luxurious lifestyle and embraced radicalism and militancy, were strongly influenced by key events unfolding in the Middle East -- most importantly, the Arab prosperity and identity crisis that accompanied the oil boom in the 1970s, the triumph of revolutionary Islam in Iran, and the rallying cry of the jihad in Afghanistan in the 1980s.

Osama bin Muhammad bin Laden was born in the city of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, probably in 1957. At the time his father, Muhammad bin Laden, was a small-time builder and contractor who had arrived from Yemen in search of employment. Osama was one of numerous siblings -- his father had more than fifty children from several wives. Muhammad bin Laden was conscientious about education and advancement in life and tried to provide his children with proper schooling. During the 1960s the family moved to the Hijaz, western Saudi Arabia, and ultimately settled in Al-Medina Al-Munawwara. Osama received most of his formal education in the schools of Medina and later Jedda, Saudi Arabia's main commercial port on the Red Sea.

The oil boom of the 1970s changed Muhammad bin Laden's fortunes. The development boom in the Hijaz brought him in direct contact with the Saudi elite, and he soon developed a special relationship with the upper-most echelons of the House of al-Saud as both a superior builder and the provider of discreet services, such as the laundering of payments to "causes." His contacts at the top enabled Muhammad bin Laden to expand his business into one of the biggest construction companies in the entire Middle East -- the Bin Laden Corporation. The special status of the bin Laden company was established when the House of al-Saud contracted with it to refurbish and rebuild the two holy mosques in Mecca and Medina. During the 1970s, the bin Laden company was involved in the construction of roads, buildings, mosques, airports, and the entire infrastructure of many of the Arab countries of the Persian Gulf.

Osama was destined to follow in his father's footsteps. He went to high school in Jedda and then studied management and economics at King Abdul Aziz University in Jedda, one of Saudi Arabia's best schools. His father promised him he would be put in charge of his own company, which would enjoy the bin Ladens' direct access to the Court to gain extremely profitable contracts.

Osama bin Laden started the 1970s as did many other sons of the affluent and well-connected -- breaking the strict Muslim lifestyle in Saudi Arabia with sojourns in cosmopolitan Beirut. While in high school and college Osama visited Beirut often, frequenting flashy nightclubs, casinos, and bars. He was a drinker and womanizer, which often got him into bar brawls.

Ultimately, however, Osama bin Laden was not an ordinary Saudi youth having a good time in Beirut. In 1973 Muhammad bin Laden was deeply affected spiritually when he rebuilt and refurbished the two holy mosques, and these changes gradually affected Osama. Even while he was still taking brief trips to Beirut, he began showing interest in Islam. He started reading Islamic literature and soon began his interaction with local Islamists. In 1975 the outbreak of the Lebanese civil war prevented further visits to Beirut. The Saudi Islamists claimed that the agony of the Lebanese was a punishment from God for their sins and destructive influence on young Muslims. Osama bin Laden was strongly influenced by these arguments.

The drastic personal change in Osama bin Laden's life in the mid-1970s reflects the turmoil of the Arab Middle East, specifically Saudi Arabia, during the 1970s.

What began as a period of Arab self-respect and great expectations -- derived from the self-perceived restoration of "Arab honor" in the 1973 Yom Kippur War (the coordinated Egyptian-Syrian surprise attack against Israel that ended with an inconclusive Israeli military victory) and then the great affluence and influence resulting from the oil boom that followed the embargo of 1973-1974 (which the oil-producing states of the Arabian Peninsula declared in order to force the West into adopting anti-Israeli policies) -- quickly turned into an era of acute crisis and trauma due to the Arab world's inability to cope with the consequences of its actions. The sudden increase in wealth of the ruling elite and the upper and educated strata and exposure to the West led to confusion and a largely unresolved identity crisis resulting in radicalism and eruptions of violence. Improved media access and availability throughout the region brought home crises in other parts of the world. Be-cause of its conservative Islamic character and sudden wealth and influence, Saudi Arabia was uniquely influenced by these dynamics.

In Jedda, Osama bin Laden was constantly exposed to the often contradictory trends influencing Saudi society at the time. As Saudi Arabia's main port city on the Red Sea coast, Jedda was exposed to Western influence more than most other Saudi cities were. Sailors and experts came to Jedda, while the increasingly rich local elite, including the bin Laden family, visited the West. Coming from generally conservative and isolated Saudi Arabia, these visitors were shocked by their encounter with the West -- by the personal freedoms and affluence of the average citizen, by the promiscuity, and by the alcohol and drug use of Western youth. Many young Saudis could not resist experimenting with the forbidden. When they returned to Saudi Arabia, they brought with them the sense of individualism and personal freedoms they encountered in the West.

The wealth and worldly character of Jedda also transformed it into a shelter for Islamist intellectuals persecuted throughout the Muslim world. Several universities, primarily King Abdul Aziz University in Jedda, which bin Laden attended from 1974 to 1978, became a hub of vibrant Islamist intellectual activity; the best experts and preachers were sheltered in the universities and mosques, providing an opportunity to study and share their knowledge. They addressed the growing doubts of the Saudi youth. Their message to the confused was simple and unequivocal -- only an absolute and unconditional return to the fold of conservative Islamism could protect the Muslim world from the inherent dangers and sins of the West.

In March 1975, in the midst of the oil boom and the Islamic intellectual backlash against it, Saudi Arabia's King Faisal was assassinated. The assassin, Prince Faisal ibn Musaid, was the king's deranged nephew. He was also thoroughly Westernized and had visited the United States and Western Europe frequently. Both Islamists and Court insiders expressed apprehension that exposure to Western ways had caused Faisal ibn Musaid to go insane. Although the succession process worked and the kingdom suffered no ensuing crisis, the seed of doubt and discontent was sown. The assassination was a turning point for Saudi Arabia. For both the Saudi establishment and the conscientious elite, the assassination of the beloved king served as proof that the...

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  • Nombre de pages de l'édition imprimée : 464 pages
  • Editeur : Prima Lifestyles (4 mai 2011)
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Commentaires client les plus utiles sur (beta) HASH(0x95f28b04) étoiles sur 5 97 commentaires
40 internautes sur 44 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
HASH(0x95edaa5c) étoiles sur 5 Hindsight is 20/20 14 septembre 2001
Par Tim Smith - Publié sur
Format: Relié
This is one of the books that has sat on my "going to read" bookshelf until the tragic events of 9/11/01. Now that I have read it I am experiencing a wide array of emotions, not the least of which are anger and dismay. Not that my reading it before would have done anything but it would have at least lessened the shock and surprise at "who could do such a thing" and "how could something like this have happenned?". This book answers those questions. It is for readers who believe in the maxim "Know thy Enemy" for the author does a magnificent job of describing bin Laden and how he developed into the extremist terrorist who threatens the free world's way of life; how he developed his resources, and the complex network of followers who are willing to die for their beliefs. It's almost as interesting to read some of the reviews of this book written prior to the recent acts of terror. Those reviews discount bin Laden and the assertions Bodansky makes about him, claiming the author is trying to make money by sensationalizing the Islamist leader, his resources and his blueprint for destruction. Don't believe them. Yossef Bodansky has impeccable research to back up his statements and the indescribable horror of this last week solidifies his credibility.
36 internautes sur 41 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
HASH(0x95eda57c) étoiles sur 5 Osama-bin-Laden 21 février 2000
Par sarwar - Publié sur
Format: Relié
The Saudi millionaire militant Osama Bin Laden and Pakistan's Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) have struck a deal under which the so-called Mujaheddin will carry out ``spectacular terrorist strikes'' in the heart of India in return for the ISI's support, protection and sponsorship, according to a new book on the world's most-wanted terrorist.
The deal, solidified in Spring 1998, enables the ISI to strike in India while denying any involvement, says Yossef Bodansky, author of the recently released book Bin Laden: The Man Who Declared War on America.
The book also makes a stunning allegation: The ISI, in cahoots with the so-called Mujaheddin, sponsors, supports and trains terrorists throughout the world from centers in Afghanistan and Pakistan for operations in the Middle East, India (not just Kashmir), and increasingly, western Europe.
In a compelling account of the ISI's nexus with Osama bin Laden and their flagrant involvement in subversive activity in India, Bodansky says the Pakistani spy agency is actively assisting bin Laden in the expansion of an Islamist infrastructure in India.
It distributes cassettes and other propaganda material in which Bin Laden and others described India, along with the United States and Israel, as the greatest enemy of Islam. Primary venues for the distribution of Islamist propaganda and incitement material are the institutions run by the Ahl-i-Hadith religious charity, which is associated with Lashkar-e-Toiba Islamist Kashmiri organisation.
Bodansky writes that under the command of Abdul Karim Tunda, the Lashkar-e-Toiba has already been responsible for several terrorist attacks in India. In addition, Bin Laden has major cells in the southern city of Bangalore and Hyderabad which support Harkar-ul Ansar, a Pakistan-sponsored Islamist organisation that actively participates in the jihad in Kashmir and trains mujaheddin for jihad fronts all over the world.
What makes Bodansky's revelations all the more interesting is that he is the Director of the US Congressional Task Force on Terrorism headed by Congressman Bill McCollum. Although the disclosures in the book are widely known and privately acknowledged in the intelligence community of which Bodansky is a part, the US executive _ and the American media _ have preferred to tread softly on Pakistan on the terrorism issue.
Bodansky's book paints ISI as a sinister and malignant terrorist outfit that is spreading mayhem not just in India but elsewhere in the world in the name of Islam. He says the US strikes against bin Laden and the terrorist camps in Afghanistan have only reinforced the relationship between the ISI and bin Laden.
Bodansky says Pakistan promoted Islamism as the sole ideology capable of containing and reversing the breakup of Pakistan on ethno-national lines. ``Consequently, the ISI's support for and sponsorship of sisterly Islamic terrorist movements throughout the Arab world became a cornerstone of Pakistan's national security policy,'' he writes.
The book has explicit details of ISI-run terrorist training camps right through the 1980s and how it was largely aimed at India while also feeding terrorism elsewhere in the world.
At one point during the Afghan war, says Bodansky, the ISI kept even the CIA out of these camps. This was because the ISI wanted to hide the extent of training and support non-Afghan volunteers were getting at these camps. Most numerous were the thousands of Islamic trainees from Indian Kashmir and to a lesser extent Sikhs from the Punjab.
In one particularly damning passage that shows how recklessly the ISI turned Pakistan into a ``place of pilgrimage for terrorists,'' Bodansky reveals that in the Fall of 1988, the spy and subversion agency instructed all Pakistani legations to issue ``special tourist'' visas to any Islamist aspiring to fight in the Afghan Jihad.
These ``visas'' were provided, frequently along with paid airline tickets, to volunteers who lacked proper travel documents as well as those who gave false names and were wanted by their governments for terrorism and subversion. C. Rajghutta
40 internautes sur 47 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
HASH(0x95ef0528) étoiles sur 5 A real eye-opener! 3 octobre 2001
Par Un client - Publié sur
Format: Broché
I don't usually read books on history, politics, or world affairs, but I wish I had read this a long time ago. The author explains the complicated politics of the Middle East, along with ever-shifting loyalties, and our country's own manipulation by Pakistan, all of which contributed to the rise of Osama Bin Laden and worldwide terrorism. The book is detailed and well researched. Although it's not a "quick" read, it was so informative, I had a hard time putting it down.
This book was written before the events of September 11 2001, but it gives the background information to put those events into perspective. It made me realize that in America, we've all been living in denial for the past 20 years, while overseas, a lot of anti-American (and anti-Western) sentiment has been brewing. I had no idea how many people out there would die to ensure the fall of Western civilization. We take our religious freedom, as well as separation of church and state, for granted in this country. I have never appreciated it as much as I do right now. Thank you to Mr. Bodansky for opening my eyes.
14 internautes sur 15 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
HASH(0x95eecbf4) étoiles sur 5 Prophetic Account of a Chilling Subject 30 décembre 2001
Par Un client - Publié sur
Format: Broché
As might be imagined, "Bid Laden, The Man Who Declared War on America" is an alarming book. And the fact that it was written two years before 9/11/01 makes it more so, since the narrative puts the events of that day into the context of an unfolding political reality that has been too long in the making to be resolved any time soon. The title is somewhat misleading, and I picked the book up thinking it was going to be a biography of sorts. However, other than some perfunctory material on Bid Laden's youth, the study isn't really about Bid Laden himself so much as it is about the violent political movement, of which he is a leader, that has evolved from Islamic eschatology. Bodansky takes his readers on a trip through the snake pit of Middle Eastern and radical Islamic politics, which he portrays as a world where wealth, self-interest, violence, religious doctrine, and state policy are intertwined inextricably. It's also a world where loyalties or even strategic alliances don't seem to exist much beyond ephemeral alignments around tactical objectives that shift with the political wind. In this light, Bodansky - who is a consultant to the U.S. government - reveals much about our supposed friends in the region. He describes Pakistan as one of the primary architects behind the terrorist infrastructure managed by Bid Laden and other leading Islamists. He portrays the Saudi government as a craven and tottering regime which continues to provide lavish funding to this infrastructure as a kind of protection money to keep it's activities away from Saudi soil. Bodansky, of course, turns his cynical eye on the U.S. too, reminding us that we ourselves collaborated in birthing this movement, nurturing its spectacularly successful war against our one-time enemy, the Soviet Union. As for the Islamists, they see themselves now as simply continuing to fight the same war, having destroyed one "superpower" and now taking aim at the other in their campaign to overturn the prevailing world order. Bodansky depicts them as dedicated to a eschatological vision in which all secular states are overthrown by whatever means necessary and replaced by a kind of global Islamic government, which will usher in heavenly peace and glory. The parallels between this vision and that of messianic communism are as striking as they are ironic, since both justify political violence as a tool necessary for achieving a glorious albeit it ill-defined future. Of the two visions, the Islamic seems more dangerous in the nuclear age, since doctrinaire communists, being atheists, were made cautious by their belief that they had to achieve their heaven on earth. Bodansky quotes extensively from Bid Laden and others, and their words make clear that they believe that in a global conflagration they would be sending themselves to heaven and their enemies to hell, not inhibiting themselves with much of a disincentive. Bodansky seems to know almost too much about some things, leading one to question the extent to which he might be interjecting his own supposition into this narrative as ostensibly factual material. For example, he states unequivocally the Bid Laden already possesses nuclear weapons, although not necessary the means to deliver them. While this may be true, Bodanksy doesn't provide much basis for his startling conclusion, nor for many of the other observations he makes about the private relationships said to exist between various terrorist factions and governments. In his introduction, he addresses the problem of the credibility of his material by saying that elucidating his sources would compromise their security. While on one level this seems entirely fair, it has the unfortunate effect of relieving the author of a burden which all academic writers should have to bear of drawing a crisp line between conjecture and well-grounded reporting. Despite these limitations, the big picture Bodansky draws clearly has the force of much knowledge behind it, and it is acquires a prophetic aura now in light of the events occurring after the book was written. Most Americans - myself included - are dangerously ignorant about Islam in all its manifestations, both good and bad. While this book, focussing as it does on a violent fringe, probably should be read alongside more balanced treatments of Islamic culture, I recommend it to anyone trying to make sense of the new geo-political environment in which we have suddenly found ourselves.
8 internautes sur 8 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
HASH(0x95ef0414) étoiles sur 5 Very Important Book 3 juin 2004
Par Un client - Publié sur
Format: Broché
I am fairly well educated (Master's degree) and read a lot (3 newspapers a day and 5-6 books a month), but this is the most important book I have ever read. While it does have some errors (mostly about bin Laden's early life and family), overall it is the most complete history and description of the Islamist movement that I have seen.
To be honest, I did not understand what the Islamist movement was before reading this book. Nothing in newspapers or on television has explained this movement as clearly and comprehensively as Bodansky has with this book. Essentially, it is a totalitarian political movement cloaked by Islam. It has many similarities to communism - a utopian view that their philosophy will make life/the world perfect, lack of civil rights, no free press, no freedom of religion, only the Islamic movement makes it especially bad for women. Examples of this type of government can be seen in Iran, Sudan and Taliban-era Afghanistan. Its religious cover makes it attractive to many devout Muslims, some of whom seem to believe the whole world should be either Muslim or dead. Many of the leaders of the Islamsist movement have said that the ultimate goal of the Islamist movement is world domination. And that seems to be how they are behaving.

The most shocking thing about this book is that it was written before 9/11 and predicted some sort of "spectacular" and "devastating" attack on the US, either in New York or Washington, DC.
I was disappointed to read about the US/Clinton Administration's response to attacks prior to 9/11 (this book was written long before 9/11 and ends in 1999). While the Clinton Administration did attempt some retaliation, it was, from the terrorists' standpoint, laughable and accomplished nothing more than making the US look ridiculous. This seems to be mostly due to the incredible naivete of that administration with regard to the growing threat of the Islamist movement.
I feel as though this book has allowed me to read the news about the Middle East now with some comprehension of what specific events really mean. I understand the difficult situation we are in and expect that it will probably last for many more years. This is not an easy book - it is detailed and complicated to read and contains information that is hard to digest. Still, it was the most important book I have ever read.
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