◆ Documenting how some states helped Al Qaeda
Pakistan has long been known to have supported the Taliban and to have had links with al-Qaeda. A new book by Cathy Scott-Clark and Adrian Levy, and reviewed here by one of America’s premier terrorism experts, Bruce Hoffman, documents not only how extensive the ties were, but also the important complicity of Iran.
The authors detail Pakistan’s harboring of Osama bin-Laden.
Yet, due to the Afghan War and its difficult logistics requirements, the Bush administration was ineffective in pressuring the Pakistani regime to take a firmer line toward its own ISI military intelligence service and the refuge they provided.
In turn the Obama administration walked a delicate line with Iran in the hope not only of reaching the nuclear agreement, but of establishing rapport with Tehran.
Bruce Hoffman’s Very Positive Review of Cathy Scott-Clark and Adrian Levy’s The Exile
The book’s main argument is that neither bin Laden nor the movement he created could have survived without the active support of persons at the apex of both Pakistan’s and especially Iran’s intelligence services. The critical roles played by both countries in sheltering and protecting key al-Qaeda leaders and their families has of course long been known. But no other publicly available source comes as close to The Exile in presenting this familiar story either in as much detail or from the first-hand perspective of the key dramatis personae. New York Times reporter Carlotta Gall’s 2014 book, The Wrong Enemy, for example, had forcefully advanced the same claim regarding Pakistan’s complicity. The Exile goes considerably further: both in fleshing out the story and providing additional substantiation through the new information from multiple first-hand perspectives that Scott-Clark and Levy rely on. –Bruce Hoffman review of Scott-Clark and Levy’s The Exile
The Exile’s main value . . . is in the new light that it sheds on the day-to-day Herculean efforts required simultaneously to protect bin Laden and his family while maintaining open lines of communications to his deputies, acolytes, financiers, and factotums dispersed across Pakistan, Iran, and more distant battlefields.
Robert Lieber, a professor at Georgetown, is one of the country’s leading analysts of US foreign policy, with special interests in the Middle East, Europe, and energy.
His most recent book is Retreat and Its Consequences: American Foreign Policy and the Problem of World Order (Cambridge University Press).