A guide to the most critical readings on Afghanistan, Pakistan, al-Qaeda, and U.S. counterterrorism.
- By Peter Bergen<p> Peter Bergen, a frequent visitor to Afghanistan since 1993, is author of Manhunt: The Ten-Year Search for bin Laden from 9/11 to Abbottabad. </p>
What follows is the Ultimate AfPak Reading List — an amalgamation of syllabi from classes I’ve taught at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard and the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. I’ve included a variety of reading, from books I’ve found particularly insightful to significant reporting on everything from the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan to al Qaeda’s media strategy.
Links are included whenever possible, but be forewarned that a few of the journal articles are subscription only. In some cases I’ve included my general comments about the work and specific page numbers. And where relevant, we have included links to the AfPak Channel’s reviews of the latest, greatest books on Afghanistan, Pakistan, al-Qaeda, and U.S. counterterrorism policy.
Categories are organized thusly:
- Afghanistan: The Soviet Invasion, 1979-1989 & the Rise of the Taliban, 1994-2001
- Afghanistan: Under the Taliban 1994-2001 & the Rise of the Religious Warriors and Their Al Qaeda Allies
- Afghanistan: The Resurgence of the Taliban and al Qaeda from the Battle of Tora Bora in the Winter of 2001 to Today
- Pakistan: General Interest
- Pakistan: The Jihadists Post-9/11
- Al Qaeda: General Interest
- Al Qaeda: From Its Formation in 1988 to 9/11
- Al Qaeda: The Organization and the Ideological Movement Since the 9/11 Attacks
- Al Qaeda: Media Strategy from 1988 to the Present
- The Underlying Causes of the 9/11 Attacks
- Islamist Terrorism and Its Intellectual Influences
- New America Foundation Papers
If you think there’s something that should be on here and isn’t, email us at Bergen@newamerica.net. This is very much a work in progress.
Afghanistan: The Soviet Invasion, 1979-1989 & the Rise of the Taliban, 1994-2001
- Barfield, Thomas. Afghanistan: A Cultural and Political History. (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2010). AfPak Channel review by Gerard Russell: "a comprehensive but readable short history of Afghanistan, with a heavy focus on the last nine years."
- Bradsher, Henry. Afghan Communism and Soviet Intervention. (London: Oxford University Press, 1999).
- Braithwaite, Rodric. Afghantsy: The Russians in Afghanistan, 1979-1989 (New York: Oxford University Press, USA, 2011)
- Crile, George. Charlie Wilson’s War, The Extraordinary Story of the Largest Covert Operation in History. (New York: Atlantic Monthly Press, 2003).
- Feifer, Gregory. The Great Gamble: the Soviet War in Afghanistan (New York: Harper Collins, 2009).
- Kalinovsky, Artemy. A Long Goodbye: The Soviet Withdrawal from Afghanistan (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2011)
- Urban, Mark. War in Afghanistan. (London: Macmillan Press, 1988).
- Yousaf, Mohammad and Mark Adkin. Afghanistan — The Bear: The Defeat of a Superpower. (London: Leo Cooper, 1992).
Afghanistan: Under the Taliban 1994-2001 & the Rise of the Religious Warriors and Their Al Qaeda Allies
- Dorronsoro, Gilles. Revolution Unending: Afghanistan, 1979 to Present. (New York: Columbia University Press, 2005). Dense, authoritative study.
- Gutman, Roy. How We Missed the Story: Osama bin Laden, the Taliban, and the Hijacking of Afghanistan (Washington, DC: USIP Press, 2008).
- Maley, William, ed. Fundamentalism Reborn? Afghanistan and the Taliban. (New York: New York University Press, 1998).
- Rashid, Ahmed. Taliban: Militant Islam, Oil and Fundamentalism in Central Asia. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2001. (Paperback Edition)
- Zaeef, Abdul Salam. My Life with the Taliban. Edited by Alex Strick van Linschoten and Felix Kuehn. (NewYork: Hurst/Columbia University Press, 2010)
- Cullison, Alan and Andrew Higgins. "Inside al Qaeda’s Afghan Turmoil." Wall Street Journal, August 2, 2002.
- Pyes, Craig and William Rempel. "Slowly Stalking an Afghan ‘Lion.‘" Los Angeles Times, June 12, 2002. This is the best account of the plan to assassinate Ahmad Shah Massoud, which was a prelude to the 9/11 attacks.
- Sirrs, Julie. "The Taliban’s International Ambitions." Middle East Quarterly 8.3, Summer 2001. Academic Search Premier.
- George Washington University’s National Security Archive has a useful collection of declassified U.S. State Department documents about the Taliban.
Afghanistan: The Resurgence of the Taliban and al Qaeda from the Battle of Tora Bora in the Winter of 2001 to Today
Four books about the U.S. war against the Taliban in Afghanistan detail how that war was initially prosecuted:
- Bernsten, Gary. Jawbreaker: The Attack on Bin Laden and Al Qaeda. (New York: Crown, 2005). CIA officer recounts the fall of Taliban and the battle of Tora Bora.
- Naylor, Sean. Not a Good Day to Die: The Untold Story of Operation Anaconda. (New York: Berkeley Publishing Group, 2005). Army Times reporter gives a deeply reported account of Operation Anaconda.
- Schroen, Gary. First In: An Insider’s Account of How the CIA Spearheaded the War on Terror in Afghanistan. (New York: Ballantine, 2005).
- Fury, Dalton. Kill Bin Laden: A Delta Force Commander’s Account of the Hunt for the World’s Most Wanted Man (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2008).
Other Key Books
- Anderson, Ben. No Worse Enemy: The Inside Story of the Chaotic Struggle for Afghanistan (Oxford: OneWorld Publications, 2013).
- Barker, Kim. The Taliban Shuffle: Strange Days in Afghanistan and Pakistan. (New York: Doubleday, 2011) FP review by Joshua Foust — "Barker, a former Chicago Tribune correspondent now with ProPublica, recounts nearly a decade of soul-wrenching zaniness, perpetrated in equal parts by the Afghans, Pakistanis, and the white people moving amongst them both, with a good sense of humor."
- Chandrasekaran, Rajiv. Little America: The War Within the War for Afghanistan (New York: Knopf, 2012). AfPak Channel review by Gerard Russell: "Little America is a well-researched, clearly-written exposé of the debates, disputes and political skullduggery between those involved in the Afghanistan "surge" in 2009."
- Chayes, Sarah. The Punishment of Virtue: Inside Afghanistan After the Taliban. (New York: Penguin, 2006). A journalist-turned-aid worker based in Kandahar for four years after the fall of the Taliban provides an interesting and important account of mistakes made by all the players in the reconstruction of Afghanistan.
- Cowper-Coles, Sherard. Cables from Kabul: The Inside Story of the West’s Afghanistan Campaign. (New York: Harper Collins, 2011). AfPak Channel review by Gerard Russell — "the equivalent of a guided tour around the inner workings of the international community in Afghanistan. It is a warts-and-all tour, with institutional failings laid bare."
- Dalrymple, William. Return of a King: The Battle for Afghanistan, 1839-42. (New York: Random House, 2013). AfPak Channel review by Gerard Russell: "It is a history of the first war fought by Westerners in Afghanistan in modern times, and is clearly designed to cast a light on our present conflict there. But it is also a beautiful and moving account of a tragedy complete with imperial hubris, foolishness and great human suffering."
- Dobbins, James. After the Taliban: Nation-Building in Afghanistan (Dulles, VA: Potomac Press, 2008).
- Giustozzi, Antonio. Koran, Kalashnikov, and Laptop: The Neo-Taliban Insurgency in Afghanistan 2002-2007 (New York: Columbia University Press, 2007)
- Green, Daniel R. The Valley’s Edge: A Year with the Pashtuns in the Heartland of the Taliban (Dulles: Potomac Books Inc., 2011). AfPak Channel review by Michael Waltz: "The book is a detailed, first-hand account of how a team of U.S. soldiers and civilians, focused on improving governance and development, operated in the midst of a worsening insurgency in one of the most remote provinces in Afghanistan."
- Johnson, Chris and Leslie, Jolyon. Afghanistan: The Mirage of Peace. (London: Zed Books, 2004). Two long time aid workers paint a bleak picture of Afghanistan following the fall of the Taliban.
- Jones, Ann. Kabul in Winter: Life Without Peace in Afghanistan. (New York: Metropolitan Books, 2006). Jones writes evocatively to illuminate a little-known world, that of poor, marginalized women in Kabul and issues a devastating critique of American aid to Afghanistan, which is consumed all too often by foreigners, evident in the fleets of Land Rovers and Toyota Land Cruisers that choke Kabul’s smog-filled streets.
- Jones, Seth. In the Graveyard of Empires: America’s War in Afghanistan. (New York: Norton, 2009).
- Kilcullen, David. The Accidental Guerrilla: Fighting Small Wars in the Midst of a Big One. (New York: Oxford University Press, 2009).
- Maley, William. Rescuing Afghanistan. (Sydney: UNSW Press, 2007). A concise book that examines the problems and possible solutions in Afghanistan following the fall of the Taliban government.
- Malkasian, Carter. War Comes to Garmser: Thirty Years of Conflict on the Afghan Frontier (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013).
- Rashid, Ahmed. Descent into Chaos: The U.S. and the Disaster in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Central Asia. (New York: Penguin, 2008).
- Rhode, David and Kristen Mulhivill. A Rope and a Prayer: A Kidnapping from Two Sides. (New York: Penguin Group, 2010).
- Semple, Michael. Reconciliation in Afghanistan. (Washington, DC: USIP Press, 2009).
- West, Bing. The Wrong War: Grit, Strategy, and the Way Out of Afghanistan. (New York: Random House, 2011). AfPak Channel review by Gerard Russell – "It has genuine Afghan voices, which is all too rare in Western books about Afghanistan. Speaking from the perspective of the infantryman, it reminds us of the powerful virtues of the military, and I recommend it without hesitation."
- Woodward, Bob. Obama’s Wars. (New York: Simon and Schuster, 2010). Peter Bergen’s review here.
- Zakheim, Dov S. 2011. A Vulcan’s Tale: How the Bush Administration Mismanaged the Reconstruction of Afghanistan. Brookings Institution Press.
- Anderson, John Lee. "The Taliban’s Opium War." New Yorker, July 9, 2006.
- Barno, David. "Fighting ‘the other war': Counterinsurgency strategy in Afghanistan, 2003-2005." Military Review. September/October 2007.
- Bergen, Peter. "Winning the Good War," Washington Monthly, July 2009.
- Bergen, Peter. Testimony before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, February 15, 2007.
- Broschk, Florian. 2011. "Inciting the Believers to Fight: A closer look at the rhetoric of the Afghan jihad," Afghanistan Analysts Network.
- Byman, Daniel. "Talking with Insurgents," The Washington Quarterly, April 2009.
- Clark, Kate. 2011. "The Layha: Calling the Taleban to Account," Afghanistan Analysts Network.
- Dobbins, James. "Ending’s Afghanistan’s Civil War." Testimony presented before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, March 8, 2007.
- Dorronsoro, Gilles. "The Taliban’s Winning Strategy in Afghanistan," Carnegie Endowment, June 2009.
- Fair, C. Christine. "Under the Shrinking U.S. Security Umbrella: India’s End Game in Afghanistan?" The Washington Quarterly. Spring 2011.
- Giustozzi, Antonio. Decoding the New Taliban: Insights from the Afghan Field. (New York: Columbia/Hurst, 2009).
- Glasser, Susan B. "The Battle of Tora Bora: Secrets, Money, Mistrust." Washington Post. February 10, 2002.
- Hastert, Paul. "Operation Anaconda: Perception Meets Reality in the Hills of Afghanistan." Studies in Conflict and Terrorism. 28: 1, January/February 2005, 11-20 is useful.
- International Crisis Group. "Afghanistan: Exit vs Engagement." November 2010.
- International Crisis Group. "The Insurgency in Afghanistan’s Heartland." June 2011.
- Johnson, Thomas and Mason, M. Chris. "All counterinsurgency is local," The Atlantic, October 2008.
- Johnson, Thomas and Mason, M. Chris. "No Sign until the Burst of Fire: Understanding the Pakistan-Afghanistan Frontier," International Security 32:4, spring 2008.
- Johnson, Thomas and Mason, M. Chris. "On the edge of the big muddy: the Taliban resurgence in Afghanistan," China and Eurasia Form Quarterly, 5:2, 2007.
- Mufti, Shahan. "Spoils of War: Excavating the underground trade in Buddhist antiquities." Harper’s. April 2011.
- Neumann, Ronald. "Borderline insanity: thinking big about Afghanistan." The American Interest 3 (2), November/December 2007.
- O’Hanlon, Michael. 2010. "Staying Power: The U.S. Mission in Afghanistan Beyond 2011," Foreign Affairs, Vol. 89, No. 5.
- O’Hanlon, Michael and Bruce Riedel. 2010. "Plan A-Minus for Afghanistan," The Washington Quarterly, Vol. 34, No. 1.
- Rashid, Ahmed. "Afghanistan: On the Brink." New York Review of Books. June 22, 2006.
- Rohde, David and David Sanger. "How the ‘Good War’ in Afghanistan went bad." New York Times. August 12, 2007.
- Rubin, Elizabeth. "In the land of the Taliban." New York Times. October 22, 2006.
- Rubin, Elizabeth. "Karzai in his Labyrinth," New York Times Magazine, August 4, 2009.
- Rubin, Barnett. "Saving Afghanistan." Foreign Affairs. 86.1, January/February 2007.
- United States Assistance Mission to Afghanistan. "Suicide attacks in Afghanistan." September 1, 2007.
- Van Bijlert, Martine. 2010. "Who Controls the Vote? Afghanistan’s Evolving Elections," Afghanistan Analysts Network.
- Van Ham, Peter and Jorrit Kamminga. "Poppies for peace: reforming Afghanistan’s opium industry." Washington Quarterly, 30 (1): 69-81, winter 2006-2007.
- Yousafzai, Sami and Ron Moreau. "How the Taliban Lost its Swagger." Newsweek. February 27, 2011.
Pakistan: General Interest
- Abbas, Hassan. Pakistan’s Drift into Extremism: Allah, the Army and America’s War on Terror. (London: M.E. Sharpe, 2005). 89-177.
- Abou Zahab, Mariam and Roy, Olivier. Islamist Networks, The Afghan-Pakistan Connection. (London: Hurst, 2004).
- Bennett-Jones, Owen. Pakistan: Eye of the Storm. (New Haven, CO: Yale, 2002).
- Cohen, Stephen. The Idea of Pakistan. (Washington, DC: Brookings, 2005). Well written general history. 61-200.
- Constable, Pamela. Playing with Fire: Pakistan at War with Itself. (New York: Random House, 2011)
- Haqqani, Husain. Pakistan: Between Mosque and Military. (Washington, DC: Carnegie 2005).
- Inskeep, Steve. Instant City: Life and Death in Karachi (New York: Penguin, 2011). AfPak Channel review by Madiha Afzal: "His reliance on extensive story telling in addition to analysis and an overview that is not as wide-ranging as it could be sets it apart from other recent books written by foreign visitors about this part of the world"
- Lieven, Anatol. Pakistan: A Hard Country. (New York: Public Affairs, 2011). AfPak Channel review by Huma Yusuf – "This insightful, comprehensive portrait of Pakistan is the perfect antidote to stereotypical descriptions of the country as the most dangerous place in the world."
- Lodhi, Maleeha (ed.) Pakistan: Beyond the ‘Crisis State.’ (New York: Columbia University Press, 2011)
- Riedel, Bruce O. Deadly Embrace: Pakistan, America, and the Future of Global Jihad. (Washington D.C.: Brookings Institution Press, 2011)
- Schmidt, John R. The Unraveling: Pakistan in the Age of Jihad. (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2011)
- Bergen, Peter and Katherine Tiedemann. "Washington’s Phantom War: The Effects of the U.S. Drone Program in Pakistan." Foreign Affairs. July/August 2011.
- Fair, C. Christine. "Militant Recruitment in Pakistan." Studies in Conflict and Terrorism. 27.6, November/December 2004.
- Lieven, Anatol. "All Kayani’s Men." The National Interest. May/June 2011.
- McKelvey, Tara. "Inside the Killing Machine" Newsweek. February 13, 2011.
- Mishra, Pankaj. "Death in Kashmir." New York Review of Books. September 21, 2000.
- Mishra, Pankaj. "Kashmir: Unending War." New York Review of Books, October 19, 2000.
- "Pakistan: A Great Deal of Ruin in a Nation." The Economist. March 31, 2011.
- Sheikh, Omar. "My Big Adventure." Harpers Magazine. January 2002.
- Stern, Jessica. "Pakistan’s Jihad Culture." Foreign Affairs, November/December 2000.
- Yusuf, Moeed W. "The U.S.-Pakistan Relationship and Finding an End State in Afghanistan." CTC Sentinel, 3.9 (2010)
Pakistan: The Jihadists Post-9/11
- Abbas, Hassan. Pakistan’s Drift into Extremism. Allah the Army and America’s War on Terror. (London: M.E. Sharpe, 2005). 201-236.
- Bergen, Peter (ed.) and Tiedemann, Katherine (ed.) Talibanistan: Negotiating the Borders Between Terror, Politics, and Religion. (New York: Oxford University Press, 2013).
- Brown, Vahid and Don Rassler. Fountainhead of Jihad: The Haqqani Nexus, 1973-2012 (London: C. Hurst and Co., 2013). AfPak Channel review by Stephen Tankel: " the most complete portrait of the Haqqani network to date."
- Corera, Gordon. Shopping for Bombs: Nuclear Proliferation, Global Insecurity, and the Rise and Fall of the A.Q. Khan Network (New York: Oxford University Press, 2006).
- Frantz, Douglas and Collins, Catherine. The Man from Pakistan: the True Story of the World’s Most Dangerous Nuclear Smuggler (New York: Grand Central Publishing, 2007).
- Gul, Imtiaz. The Most Dangerous Place: Pakistan’s Lawless Frontier. (New York: Viking Adult, 2010)
- Hussain, Zahid. Frontline Pakistan: the Struggle Within Militant Islam. (New York: Columbia, 2007).
- Jamestown Foundation, Pakistan’s Troubled Frontier: the Future of the FATA and the NWFP (Washington, DC, 2009).
- Musharraf, Pervez. In the Line of Fire. (New York, Free Press: 2008). 197-281.
- Nawaz, Shuja. Crossed Swords: Pakistan, its Army, and the Wars Within (New York: Oxford University Press, 2008).
- Pearl, Marianne. A Mighty Heart. New York: Scribner, 2003. 113-189.
- Schmidle, Nicholas. To Live or Perish Forever: Two Tumultuous Years in Pakistan (New York: Henry Holt, 2009).
- Rana, Muhammad Amir and Saba Ansari (Trans). A to Z of Jehadi Organizations in Pakistan. (Mashal, 2004). Unpromisingly titled, but full of new information about South Asian Islamist groups, many of which have drawn closer to al-Qaeda.
- Tankel, Stephen. Storming the World Stage: The Story of Lashkar-e-Taiba. (London: C. Hurst & Co., 2011). AfPak Channel excerpt here.
- Anson, Robert Sam. "The Journalist and the Terrorist." Vanity Fair, August 1, 2002.
- Bergen, Peter and Paul Cruickshank. "Kashmir on the Thames." The New Republic. September 4, 2006.
- Cohen, Stephen Philip. "The Jihadist Threat to Pakistan." The Washington Quarterly. 26.3, Summer 2003.
- Cohen, Craig and Derek Chollet. "When $10 billion is not enough: rethinking U.S. strategy toward Pakistan." The Washington Quarterly. Spring 2007.
- Fair, C. Christine. "Militant Recruitment in Pakistan." Studies in Conflict and Terrorism. 27.6, November/December 2004.
- Haqqani, Husain. "The Role of Islam in Pakistan’s Future." The Washington Quarterly. 28.1, Winter 2004-05.
- Hersh, Seymour. "The Getaway." The New Yorker. January 28, 2002.
- International Crisis Group, "Taliban Propaganda: Winning the War of Words?" July 2008.
- International Crisis Group, "Pakistan: the Militant Jihadi Challenge," March 2009.
- International Crisis Group. "Pakistan’s Tribal Areas: Appeasing the Militants," December 2006.
- Nawaz, Shuja. "FATA: A Most Dangerous Place," CSIS 2008.
- Rashid, Ahmed. "Pakistan on the Edge." New York Review of Books, October 10, 2002.
- Rassler, Don and Vahid Brown. "The Haqqani Nexus and the Evolution of al-Qa’ida." The Combating Terrorism Center at West Point. July 2011.
- "Things Fall Apart." The Economist. March 3, 2011
- Warrick, Joby. "U.S. and Pakistan: A Frayed Alliance." Washington Post. October 31, 2007.
- White, Joshua T. "Pakistan’s Islamist Frontier," Center on Faith and International Affairs 2008.
- The Journalist and the Jihadi: The Murder of Daniel Pearl. Produced and directed by Ahmed A. Jamal and Ramesh Sharma. Narrated by Christiane Amanpour. HBO, 2006.
Al Qaeda: General Interest
- 9/11 Commission Report. (New York: Norton, 2004). An authoritative account and actually a good read, surprisingly so for a government report.
- Atwan, Abdel-Bari. The Secret History of al-Qa’ida. (California: University of California Press, 2006). A concise primer.
- Anonymous/Scheuer, Michael. Through Our Enemies’ Eyes: Osama bin Laden, Radical Islam and the Future of America. (Washington, DC: Brasseys, 2002). (Paperback edition). Written by the former head of the bin Laden unit at CIA. Well researched, analytically sharp.
- Bergen, Peter. The Osama bin Laden I Know: An Oral History of al Qaeda’s Leader. (New York: Free Press, 2006). A collection of interviews with those who have known bin Laden and key documents such as the founding minutes of al Qaeda.
- Bergen, Peter. Holy War, Inc: Inside the Secret World of Osama bin Laden. (New York: Touchstone, 2002). Reporting on the ground about al Qaeda around the world. Easy read (I think.)
- Bergen, Peter. The Longest War: The Enduring Conflict between America and al-Qaeda. (New York: Free Press, 2011). FP Book Club discussion here.
- Burke, Jason. Al-Qaeda: Casting a Shadow of Terror. (New York: I.B. Tauris, 2003). A really sharp combination of on the ground reporting and analysis.
- Coll, Steve. Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan and Bin Laden, From the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001. (New York: Penguin Press, 2004). (Paperback edition) Deeply reported. Won the Pulitzer for best non-fiction book of 2004.
- Coll, Steve. The Bin Ladens: An Arabian Family in the American Century (New York: Penguin Press, 2008). An absorbing read about a family caught between the 7th and 21st centuries. Finalist for a Pulitzer in 2008.
- Combating Terrorism Center at West Point. The Osama bin Laden Files: Letters and Documents Discovered by SEAL Team Six During Their Raid on bin Laden’s Compound (New York: Skyhorse Publishing, 2012).
- Hegghammer, Thomas. Jihad in Saudi Arabia: Violence and Pan-Islamism Since 1979. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010).
- Johnsen, Gregory D. The Last Refuge: Yemen, Al-Qaeda, and America’s War in Arabia (New York: W. W. Norton and Company, Inc., 2013).
- Lia, Brynjar. Architect of Global Jihad: the Life of Al Qaeda Strategist Abu Mus’ab al-Suri (New York: Columbia University Press, 2008).
- Moghadam, Assaf. The Globalization of Martyrdom: Al Qaeda, Salafi Jihad and the Diffusion of Suicide Attacks (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2011)
- Nasiri, Omar. Inside the Jihad: My Life with the Taliban. (Philadelphia: Basic Books, 2008). A gripping account of one man’s embrace of militant jihadism and his training in the camps in Afghanistan.
- Sageman, Marc. Understanding Terror Networks. (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2004). Sageman’s groundbreaking sociological analysis of who joins al Qaeda and affiliated groups.
- Scheuer, Michael. Osama bin Laden. (New York: Oxford University Press, USA, 2012)
- Tawil, Camille. Brothers in Arms: The Story of Al Qa’ida and the Arab Jihadists. (London: Saqi Books, 2010)
- Wright, Laurence. The Looming Tower: Al Qaeda and the Road to 9/11. (New York: Knopf, 2006). A gripping narrative of the jihadist movement from its birth in Egypt in the mid-20th century up until 9/11. Won the Pulitzer Prize for best non-fiction book of 2006.
Al Qaeda: From Its Formation in 1988 to 9/11
- Fandy, Mamoun. Saudi Arabia and the Politics of Dissent. (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1999).
- Fouda, Yosri and Nick Fielding. Masterminds of Terror. (Edinburgh: Mainstream Publishing, 2003).
- Kippenberg, Hans and Tilman Seidensticker, eds. The 9/11 Handbook. (London: Equinox Publishing, 2006).
- McDermott, Terry. Perfect Soldiers: The Hijackers-Who They Were, Why They Did It. (New York: HarperCollins, 2005). An excellent narrative.
- Summers, Anthony and Robbyn Swan. The Eleventh Day: The Full Story of 9/11 and Osama bin Laden. (New York: Ballantine Books, 2011).
- al Zawahiri, Ayman. Knights under the Banner of the Prophet (2001). This document is Zawahiri’s autobiography, and it also outlines his political philosophy. It runs about 75 pages and is essential reading to understand him.
Articles and documents
- Ali Mohamed’s plea agreement, reprinted as "Excerpts from Guilty Plea in Terrorism Case." New York Times. October 21, 2000.
- Al Qaeda Training manual
- Brown, Vahid. "Cracks in the Foundation-Leadership Schisms in Al Qaeda from 1989-2006," Combating Terrorism Center at West Point. New York: Combating Terrorism at West Point, 2007. 1-26.
- Court transcript of USA v. Usama bin Laden (the embassy bombings trial) provides a wealth of material. Entire transcript of the trial available here.
- The most important testimony is from the following days: Testimony of L’Hossaine Kherchtou, February 21 and February 26; Testimony of Essam al-Ridi, February 14, 2001; Testimony of Jamal al-Fadl, February 6, 2001.; Testimony of FBI Agent John Anticev, February 27, 2001; Summation of Ken Karas, May 1, 2001.
- Cullison, Alan. "Inside Al Qaeda’s Hard Drive." The Atlantic Online. September 2004.
- Cullison, Alan and Andrew Higgins. "Computer in Kabul Holds Chilling Memos." Wall Street Journal. December 31, 2001.
- Cullison, Alan and Higgins, Andrew. "Saga of Dr. Zawahiri Sheds Light on al Qaeda Terror." Wall Street Journal. July 2, 2002.
- Lewis, Bernard. "License to Kill: Usama bin Ladin’s Declaration of Jihad." Foreign Affairs, November/December 1998.
- Mneimneh, Hassan and Makiya, Kanan. "Manual for a Raid." The New York Review of Books. January 17, 2002 (Essential).
- Rohde, David and Chivers, C. J. "The Jihad Files." New York Times. March 17, 2002 and March 18, 2002.
- Wright, Lawrence. "The Man Behind Laden: How an Egyptian doctor became a master of terror." The New Yorker. September 16, 2002. (Note, this is more than 20,000 words in length and is subsumed in Wright’s 2006 book The Looming Tower.)
Al Qaeda: The Organization and the Ideological Movement Since the 9/11 Attacks
- Atwan, Abdel Bari. After Bin Laden – Al Qaeda the Next Generation (New York: The New Press, 2013). AfPak Channel review by Mitchell D. Silber: "Mr. Atwan makes a compelling case that while the death of Osama bin Laden and the decimation of al Qaeda Core’s top leadership has hurt the central organization that was based in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the movement and ideology, with its worldwide presence via regional associated movements, is as much of a menace to the West as ever and undiminished in its goal of a global caliphate."
- Burke, Jason. The 9/11 Wars. (New York: Penguin, 2011). AfPak Channel review by Daniel Byman – Burke brings the reader from villages in Afghanistan and Iraq to slums in London and France, offering individual portraits of combatants and those overrun by war while also weaving in government policies and scholarly research to portray the broader context.
- Clarke, Richard, ed. Terrorism: what the next president will face, Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, July 2008.
- Farah, Douglas. Blood from Stones: The Secret Financial Network of Terror. (New York: Broadway, 2004).
- Greenberg, Karen, ed. Al Qaeda Now: Understanding Today’s Terrorists. (New York: Cambridge, 2005). A stimulating collection of essays.
- Riedel, Bruce. The Search for al-Qaeda: Its Leadership, Ideology, and Future. (Washington D.C.: Brookings Institution Press, 2010).
- Atran, Scott. "Mishandling Suicide Terrorism." The Washington Quarterly. 27.3, summer 2004.
- Bergen, Peter. "War of Error." The New Republic, October 22, 2007.
- Burke, Jason. "Al Qaeda: Think Again." Foreign Policy. Issue 142, May/June 2004.
- Cruickshank, Paul and Ali, Mohannad Hage Ali. "Abu Musab al Suri: Architect of the New al Qaeda." Studies in Conflict and Terrorism 30:1, 2007.
- Cullison, Alan and Higgins, Andrew. "Al Qaeda Acolyte, One of Many, Vows to Die for the Cause." Wall Street Journal. December 30, 2002.
- Elegant, Simon. "The Jihadis’ Tale." TIME. January 27, 2002.
- Hegghammer, Thomas. "Terrorist Recruitment and Radicalization in Saudi Arabia." Middle East Policy, 13.4: winter 2006.
- Hoffman, Bruce. "Al Qaeda, Trends in Terrorism, and Future Potentialities: An Assessment." Studies in Conflict and Terrorism 26.6, November-December 2003.
- Hoffman, Bruce. "The Changing Face of al Qaeda." Studies in Conflict and Terrorism 27.6, November/December 2004.
- Hoffman, Bruce. "Is al Qaeda on the run or on the march?" Middle East Policy 14:2, 2007.
- Hoffman, Bruce. "Rethinking Terrorism and Counterterrorism Since 9/11." Studies in Conflict and Terrorism. 25.25, September 2002. 303-316.
- International Crisis Group Reports about JI here.
- Kessler, Glenn. "Saudis Tie al Qaeda to Attacks." Washington Post. May 14, 2003.
- Petrou, Michael. "Lebanon’s new terrorist threat." Macleans.ca, July 9, 2007.
- Singapore. Ministry of Home Affairs. White Paper: The Jemaah Islamiyah Arrests and the Threat of Terrorism. This is an enormously through investigation of JI in Singapore, which will be of particular interest for anyone researching JI.
- Stern, Jessica. "The Protean Enemy." Foreign Affairs. 82.4, July/August 2003. 27-40
- Whitlock, Craig. "The New al Qaeda Central." Washington Post. September 9, 2007.
- Wright, Larry. "The Master Plan." The New Yorker September 11, 2006.
Al Qaeda: Media Strategy from 1988 to the Present
- Miles, Hugh. Al-Jazeera. (London: Abacus, 2005).
- Weimann, Gabriel. Terror on the Internet. (Washington, DC: United States Institute of Peace, 2006). The most authoritative account of terrorists’ use of the Internet.
- Coll, Steve and Glasser, Susan. "Terrorists Turn to the Web as a Base of Operations." Washington Post. August 7, 2005.
- Coll. Steve and Glasser, Susan. "The Web as Weapon." Washington Post. August 9, 2005.
- Jones, David Martin. "Out of Bali: Cybercaliphate Rising." The National Interest. Spring 2003.
- Kimmage, Daniel and Ridolfo, Kathleen. "Iraqi Insurgent Media: The War of Images and Ideas." Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. 2007.
- Lia, Brynjar. "Al-Qaeda Online: Understanding Jihadist Internet Infrastructure." Jane’s Intelligence Review. January 1, 2006.
- Lynch, Marc. "Al Qaeda’s Media Strategies." The National Interest, summer 2006.
- Wallace-Wells, Benjamin. "Private Jihad." New Yorker. May 29, 2006.
- International Crisis Group. "In Their Own Words: Reading the Iraqi Insurgency." Middle East Report N°50. February 15, 2006.
- Khatchadourian, Raffi. "Azzam the American: The Making of an Al Qaeda Homegrown." The New Yorker. January 22, 2007.
- Rogan, Hannah. "Abu Reuter and the E-Jihad." Georgetown Journal of International Affairs summer/fall 2007.
- Rumsfeld, Donald. "New Realities in the Media Age." Speech at the Council on Foreign Relations, February 16, 2006.
- Torres, Manuel R., Jordán, Javier and Horsburgh, Nicola. "Analysis and Evolution of the Global Jihadist Movement Propaganda." Terrorism and Political Violence 18.3.
- Weimann, Gabriel. "Virtual disputes: the use of the internet for terrorist databases." Studies in Conflict and Terrorism 29:7, 2006.
The Underlying Causes of the 9/11 Attacks
- Berman, Paul. Terror and Liberalism. New York: Norton, 2003. Argues that the jihadist threat is similar to the fascist or communist threat in terms of both its ideology and goals.
- Hudson, Rex. The Sociology and Psychology of Terrorism: Who Becomes a Terrorist and Why. (Guilford, CT: Lyons Press, 1999).
- Krueger, Alan. What Makes a Terrorist. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2007.
- Pape, Robert. Dying to Win: The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism. New York: Random House, 2005. Argues that campaigns of suicide terrorism are more motivated by nationalism than religion.
- Richardson, Louise. What Terrorists Want. New York: Random House, 2007. 38-103.
- "How the Arabs Compare: Arab Human Development Report 2002." Middle East Quarterly. 9.4, Fall 2002. Academic Search Premier.
- Atran, Scott. "The Moral Logic and Growth of Suicide Terrorism." The Washington Quarterly 29.2, Spring 2006.
- Bergen, Peter and Swati Pandey. "The Madrassa Scapegoat." The Washington Quarterly 29.2, spring 2006. 117-125.
- Bergen, Peter. "What were the causes of 9/11?" Prospect Magazine (U.K) Issue 126, September 2006.
- Bergen, Peter and Michael Lind. "A Matter of Pride." Democracy. Winter 2007.
- Czwarno, Monica. "Misjudging Islamic terrorism: the academic community’s failure to predict 9/11." Studies in Conflict and Terrorism, 29:7, 2006.
- Doran, Michael Scott. "Somebody Else’s Civil War." In How Did This Happen? Terrorism and the New War. Eds. James F. Hoge Jr. and Gideon Rose. New York: Public Affairs, 2001.
- Gabriel, Richard A. "The Warrior Prophet." Quarterly Journal of Military History. Summer 2007.
- Moghadam, Assaf. "Suicide Terrorism, Occupation, and the Globalization of Martyrdom: A Critique of ‘Dying to Win.’" Studies in Conflict & Terrorism, 29.8: December 2006. 707-729. (A critique of Pape, see his book above
- Nacos, Brigitte. "The Terrorist Calculus Behind 9-11: A Model for Future Terrorism?" Studies in Conflict and Terrorism, 26.1: January-February 2003. 1-16.
- Ruthven, Malise. "How to Understand Islam." New York Review of Books. November 8, 2007.
- Wiktoroqicz, Quintan and Kaltner, John. "Killing in the name of Islam: Al-Qaeda’s justification for September 11." Middle East Policy, 10:2, summer 2003.
Islamist Terrorism and Its Intellectual Influences
- Ballen, Ken. Terrorists in Love: True Life Stories of Islamic Radicals (New York: Free Press, 2011).
- Benjamin, Daniel and Simon, Steven. The Age of Sacred Terror. (New York: Random House, 2002).
- Cook, David. Understanding Jihad. (Los Angeles: University of California, 2005). An erudite explanation of the history of jihadist thought.
- Firestone, Reuven. Jihad, the Origin of Holy War in Islam. (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999).
- Hoffman, Bruce. Inside Terrorism. (New York: Columbia Univ. Press, 1998).
- Gerges, Fawaz. The Far Enemy: Why Jihad Went Global. (New York: Cambridge, 2005). Well researched account of how the global jihadist movement is driven by internecine ideological disputes and petty feuds.
- Kepel, Gilles. Jihad: The Trail of Political Islam. (Cambridge: Belknap Press, Harvard 2002).
- Kepel, Gilles. Muslim Extremism in Egypt, the Prophet and Pharaoh. (California: University of California Press, 1986 (1st ed.)).
- Lacey, Jim. A Terrorist’s Call to Global Jihad: Deciphering Abu Musab al-Suri’s Islamic Jihad Manifesto (Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 2008).
- Lewis, Bernard. The Political Language of Islam. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1988).
- Qutb, Sayyid. Milestones. American Trust Publications, 1991.
- Ruthven, Malise. A Fury for God. The Islamist Attack on America. (New York: Granta Books, 2002).
- Berman, Paul. "The Philosopher of Islamic Terror." New York Times Magazine. March 23, 2003.
- Gertz, Clifford. "Which Way to Mecca?" New York Review of Books. June 12, 2003.
- Paz, Reuven. "Islamists and Anti-Americanism." Middle East Review of International Affairs. 7.4, December 2003.
- Takeyh, Rey and Nikolas Gvosdev. "Radical Islam: Death of an Ideology." Middle East Policy, 9.4, Winter 2004. 86-95.
- Bamford, James. The Shadow Factory: The Ultra-Secret NSA from 9/11 to the Eavesdropping on America. (New York: Anchor Books, 2008).
- Bergen, Peter. Manhunt: The Ten-Year Search for Bin Laden-from 9/11 to Abottabad. (New York: Crown Publishing, 2012). Read reviews from the Washington Post, the Guardian, the Economist, and the New York Times.
- Bobbitt, Phillip. Terror and Consent : The Wars for the Twenty-First Century. (New York: Anchor Books, 2009).
- Carle, Glenn. The Interrogator: An Education. (New York: Nation Books, 2011).
- Clarke, Richard A. Against All Enemies: Inside America’s War on Terror. (New York: Free Press, 2004). Vital for understanding how the Bush administration came to conflate the invasion of Iraq with the war on terrorism.
- Crumpton, Henry A. The Art of Intelligence: Lessons From a Life in the CIA’s Clandestine Service (New York: Penguin Books, 2013).
- Graff, Garrett. The Threat Matrix: The FBI at War in the Age of Global Terror. (New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2011).
- Jones, Seth G. Hunting in the Shadows: The Pursuit of al Qa’ida since 9/11 (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2012). AfPak Channel review by Raffaello Pantucci: "Identifying three key prongs to an effective counterterrorism strategy – a light military footprint, helping local regimes and authorities in their counterterrorism efforts, and exploiting al Qaeda’s tendency to massacre civilians – Jones draws upon events in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Sudan, and Yemen, as well as al-Qaeda plots in America, Spain and the United Kingdom."
- Kaplan, Fred. The Insurgents: David Petraeus and the Plot to Change the American Way of War (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2013)
- Mackey, Chris and Greg Miller. The Interrogators: Inside Task Force 500 and America’s Secret War Against Al Qaeda. (New York: Little, Brown, and Company, 2004).
- Mayer, Jane. The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How the War on Terror Turned Into a War on American Ideals. (New York: Anchor Books, 2009).
- Mazzetti, Mark. The Way of the Knife: The CIA, A Secret Army, And a War at the Ends of the Earth (New York: Penguin, 2013). AfPak Channel review by Shane Harris: "In Mazzetti’s account, the responses of the CIA and the military seem biological, a set of almost organic responses to a changing environment."
- McDermott, Terry and Josh Meyer, The Hunt for KSM: Inside the Pursuit and Takedown of the Real 9/11 Mastermind, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2012).
- Mudd, Phil. Takedown – Inside the Hunt for Al Qaeda (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2013). AfPak Channel review by Mitchell D. Silber: "Mr. Mudd provides unique insights as to what it was like on a day-to-day basis working in the CIA Counterterrorism Center and FBI National Security Branch and how those entities functioned, faults and all."
- Owen, Mark. No Easy Day: The Firsthand Account of the Mission That Killed Osama Bin Laden. (New York: Penguin, 2012).
- Priest, Dana and William Arkin. Top Secret America: The Rise of the New American Security State. (New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2011).
- Scahill, Jeremy. Dirty Wars: The World is a Battlefield (New York: Nation Books, 2013). AfPak Channel review by Shane Harris: "In Scahill’s story, which is generally more concerned with the military’s side of the tale, the transformation of special operations into a global "assassination machine" seems largely engineered by the government’s most powerful men, particularly Rumsfeld and Vice President Dick Cheney, who used the crisis of terrorism to create private, "unaccountable" armies."
- Schmitt, Eric and Thom Shanker. Counterstrike: the Untold Story of America’s Secret Campaign Against al-Qaeda. (New York: Times Books, 2011). AfPak Channel review by Michael Waltz – "The authors personalize the often mundane bureaucratic policy initiatives such as Presidential findings, resources, and authorities needed to gradually shift our approach to terrorism through the stories of key individuals working on these issues over the last ten years."
- Sewell, Sarah, John A. Naql, David H. Petraeus and James F. Amos. The U.S. Army/Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Field Manual. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2007).
- Silber, Mitchell D. The Al Qaeda Factor: Plots Against the West (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2011). AfPak Channel review by Raffaello Pantucci: "Silber argues that there is a distinction to be drawn between those plots he characterizes as ‘al-Qaeda command and control,’ ‘al-Qaeda suggested/endorsed,’ and ‘al Qaeda inspired.’"
- Soufan, Ali (with Daniel Freedman). The Black Banners: The Inside Story of 9/11 and the War Against al-Qaeda. (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2011).
- Warrick, Joby. The Triple Agent. (New York: DoubleDay, 2011). AfPak Channel review by Art Keller - The Triple Agent provides a riveting look at the disastrous attempt by the CIA and their partners in the Jordanian General Intelligence Department (GID) to maneuver the Jordanian doctor-cum-cyber-jihadist, Humam al-Balawi, into penetrating the leadership of al-Qaeda.
- Woodward, Bob. Bush at War. (New York: Simon and Schuster, 2002). Vital for understanding how the Bush administration came to conflate the invasion of Iraq with the war on terrorism.
New America Papers
- Barfi, Barak. "Yemen on the Brink? The Resurgence of al-Qaeda in Yemen." January 25, 2010.
- Bergen, Peter and Katherine Tiedemann. "Guantanamo: Who Really ‘Returned to the Battlefield’? (2009)." July 20, 2009.
- Fishman, Brian. "Redefining the Islamic State: the Fall and Rise of al-Qaeda in Iraq" August 18, 2011.
- Kimmage, Daniel. "Al-Qaeda Central and the Internet." March 16, 2010.
- Lynch III, Thomas F. "The 80 Percent Solution: The Strategic Defeat of bin Laden’s al-Qaeda and Implications for South Asian Security," February 2012
- Stenersen, Anne. "Al-Qaeda’s Allies: Explaining the Relationship between al-Qaeda and Various Factions of the Taliban after 2001." April 19, 2010.
- Sude, Barbara. "Al-Qaeda Central: An Assessment of the Threat Posed by the Terrorist Group Headquartered on the Afghanistan-Pakistan Border." February 25, 2010.
- Zelin, Aaron Y. "The State of Global Jihad Online," January 2013
- Abbas, Hassan. "Inside Pakistan’s North-West Frontier Province: The Political Landscape of the Insurgency." April 19, 2010.
- Barker, Alec. "Improvised Explosive Devices in Southern Afghanistan and Western Pakistan, 2002-2009." April 5, 2010.
- Bergen, Peter. "How Not to Lose Afghanistan (and Pakistan)." October 10, 2008.
- Bew, John; Evans, Ryan; Frampton, Martyn; Neumann, Peter; Porges, Marisa. "Talking to the Taliban: Hope Over History?" June 2013
- Collins, Catherine and Ashraf Ali. "Financing the Taliban: Tracing the Dollars Behind the Insurgencies in Afghanistan and Pakistan." April 19, 2010.
- Cruickshank, Paul. "The Militant Pipeline: Between the Afghanistan-Pakistan Border Region and the West." July 6, 2011. [update of his February 2010 Policy Paper]
- Dennys, Christian and the Peace Training and Research Organization. "Moving Toward Transition: A Survey of Opinion Leaders in Southern Afghanistan as the United States Begins Its Drawdown," October 2011
- Fishman, Brian. "Russian Roulette: Corruption, Revenue, and the post-Soviet Precedent for State Failure in Afghanistan," May 2012
- Gopal, Anand. "The Battle for Afghanistan: Militancy and Conflict in Kandahar." November 9, 2010.
- Kian, Bijan R. and Wayne Porter. "A New Deal: A Plan for Sustainable Afghan Stability." December 6, 2010.
- MacKenzie, Jean. "The Battle for Afghanistan: Militancy and Conflict in Helmand." September 14, 2010.
- Mahsud, Mansur Khan. April 2010. "The Battle for Pakistan: Militancy and Conflict in South Waziristan."
- Ruttig, Thomas. "The Battle for Afghanistan: Negotiations with the Taliban." May 23, 2011.
- Van Bijlert, Martine. "The Battle for Pakistan: Militancy and Conflict in Zabur and Uruzgan." September 14, 2010.
- Ahmad, Munir. September 2011. "The Battle for Pakistan: Militancy and Conflict in Balochistan"
- Ali, Manzoor. "The Battle for Pakistan: Militancy and Conflict in Dir." September 14, 2010.
- Ali, Saleem H. "Ecological Cooperation in South Asia: The Way Forward," January 2013
- Bergen, Peter and Katherine Tiedemann. "Revenge of the Drones: An Analysis of Drone Strikes in Pakistan." October 19, 2009.
- Bergen, Peter, Patrick C Doherty and Ken Ballen. "Public Opinion in Pakistan’s Tribal Regions." September 28, 2010.
- Bergen, Peter and Mike Mazzar. "Pakistan and the United States: At a Strategic Crossroads." "Pakistan and the United States: At a Strategic Crossroads." New America Foundation/National War College. September 1, 2011
- Bergen, Peter and Katherine Tiedemann. "The Year of the Drone: An Analysis of U.S. Drone Strikes in Pakistan, 2004-2010." February 24, 2010.
- Fishman, Brian. "The Battle for Pakistan: Militancy and Conflict Across the FATA and NWFP." April 19, 2010.
- Gopal, Anand. "The Battle for Pakistan: Militancy and Conflict in North Waziristan." April 19, 2010.
- Khan, Raheel. "The Battle for Pakistan: Militancy and Conflict in Orakzai." September 14, 2010.
- Khan, Raheel. "The Battle for Pakistan: Militancy and Conflict in Khyber." April 19, 2010.
- Khan, Raza. "The Battle for Pakistan: Militancy and Conflict in Mohmand." April 19, 2010.
- Khattak, Daud Khan. "The Battle for Pakistan: Militancy and Conflict in the Swat Valley." April 19, 2010.
- Khan, Mohsin. "India-Pakistan Trade Relations: A New Beginning," January 2013
- Kheshgi, Khalid Khan. "The Battle for Pakistan: Militancy and Conflict in The Frontier Regions." September 14, 2010.
- Lalwani, Sameer. "Pakistani Capabilities for a Counterinsurgency Campaign: A Net Assessment." September 2009.
- Lalwani, Sameer. "Pakistan’s COIN Flip: The Recent History of Pakistani Military Counterinsurgency Operations in the NWFP and FATA." April 19, 2010.
- Lewis, Jeffrey. "Managing the Danger from Pakistan’s Nuclear Stockpile." November 2010.
- Mahsud, Mansur Khan. "The Battle for Pakistan: Militancy and Conflict in Kurram." April 19, 2010.
- Rahmanullah. "The Battle for Pakistan: Militancy and Conflict in Bajaur." April 19, 2010.
- Taneja, Nisha. "Enhancing India-Pakistan Trade," January 2013
- Tankel, Stephen. "Lashkar-e-Taiba in Perspective: An Evolving Threat." February 25, 2010.
- Tankel, Stephen. "Lashkar-e-Taiba: Past Operations and Future Prospects." April 27, 2011.
- Banks, William C. "The Legal Landscape for Emergency Management in the United States." February 25, 2011.
- Fishman, Brian and Andrew Lebovich. "Countering Domestic Radicalization: Lessons for Intelligence Collection and Community Outreach." June 23, 2011.
- Ollivant, Douglas. "Countering the New Orthodoxy: Reinterpreting counterinsurgency in Iraq." June 28, 2011.