Military history

The Black Banners: The Inside Story of 9/11 and the War Against al-Qaeda

The Black Banners: The Inside Story of 9/11 and the War Against al-Qaeda

On September 11, 2001, FBI Special Agent Ali H. Soufan was handed a secret file. Had he received it months earlier―when it was requested―the attacks on New York and Washington could have been prevented. During his time on the front lines, Soufan helped thwart plots around the world and elicited some of the most important confessions from terrorists in the war against al-Qaeda―without laying so much as a hand on them. Most of these stories have never been reported before, and never by anyone with such intimate firsthand knowledge.

This narrative account of America's successes and failures against al-Qaeda is essential to an understanding of the terrorist group. We are taken into hideouts and interrogation rooms. We have a ringside seat at bin Laden's personal celebration of the 9/11 bombings. Such riveting details show us not only how terrorists think and operate but also how they can be beaten and brought to justice.

PROLOGUE

Part I: THE EARLY YEARS

Chapter 1. The Fatwa and the Bet

Chapter 2. Osama Air

Chapter 3. The Northern Group

Part II: DECLARATION OF WAR

Chapter 4. The al-Qaeda Switchboard

Chapter 5. Operation Challenge and the Manchester Manual

Chapter 6. “You’ll Be Singing Like a Canary”

Chapter 7. Millennium Plot

Part III: USS COLE

Chapter 8. A Naval Destroyer in Yemen?

Chapter 9. The Hall of Death

Chapter 10. “We’re Stubborn, but We’re Not Crazy”

Chapter 11. The Human Polygraph Machine

Chapter 12. “What Is al-Qaeda Doing in Malaysia?”

Chapter 13. Bin Laden’s Errand Boy

Part IV: THE ATTACK THAT CHANGED THE WORLD

Chapter 14. The Binalshibh Riddle

Chapter 15. “What Dots?”

Chapter 16. The Father of Death

Part V: A NEW WORLD ORDER

Chapter 17. Bin Laden’s Escape

Chapter 18. DocEx

Chapter 19. Black Magic

Part VI: THE FIRST HIGH-VALUE DETAINEE

Chapter 20. Abu Zubaydah

Chapter 21. The Contractors Take Over

Chapter 22. “We Don’t Do That”

Part VII: SUCCESSES AND FAILURES

Chapter 23. Guantánamo Bay

Chapter 24. 45 Minutes

Chapter 25. The Crystal Ball Memo

Part VIII: FINAL MISSIONS

Chapter 26. Leaving the FBI

Chapter 27. Undercover

Postscript

Conclusion

Principal Characters