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Archive for the ‘Osama Bin Laden’ Category

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Joby Warrick. Black Flags: The Rise, Fall, and Rebirth of the Islamic State.  New York, NY: Doubleday, September 29th, 2015.  416 pp.

The author Joby Warrick is a journalist whose career includes covering the Middle East.  Previously I read the author’s first book titled The Triple Agent: The al-Qaeda Mole who Infiltrated the CIA.  I enjoyed this present volume a lot more both in terms of the subject and writing style.  In Black Flags the author focuses on what was formerly known as Al Qaeda in Iraq and its founder Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and how the organization later evolved into the Islamic State.  The book was filled with a lot of facts that I didn’t know before but learned from here.  The work was so fascinating that I had a hard time putting down the book.  Given how I am reading this book on the eve of the Iraqi and Kurdish army’s invasion into the last stronghold of the Islamic State in Iraq in the city of Mosul, I found this very timely and eye opening.

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The Looming Tower Lawrence Wright

Lawrence Wright. The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11. New York, NY: Borzoi Book, August 8th 2006. 373 pp.

I knew I had to read this book after seeing many other books on counter-terrorism and radical Islam referenced this work.  There’s a reason why this book is cited often and mentioned in bibliographies: it is a well-researched book on the origins of Al Qaeda leading up to their attack on September 11th.  The author spent five years researching for the book which led the author to travel all over the world.

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I just finished an incredible book on Al Qaeda and the road to 9/11 with my review coming soon sometime this week.  Since tommorow is July 4th, the American Independence Day I thought I share what I found towards the end of the book of an interesting prediction by Osama Bin Laden right after 9/11 happened.  Bin Laden predicted the following:

These painful blows will mark the beginning of the wiping out of America and the infidel West after the passing of tens of years, God willing.”

(Source)

“Ten years” would be 2011.  America is still around.  And so is the West.

Now don’t get me wrong I think the West is deteriorating morally and spiritually.  There’s many things wrong with the United States.  But God has also been gracious.  So this July 4th I thank God that America is still around and I pray for America.

You know what’s the irony of Bin Laden’s 2011 prediction?  That’s the year Bin Laden was taken out by a Squadron of Navy SEALs…from America.

False teachers should get out of the future prediction business.  Actually the terrorist business and the teaching business all together.  They should just repent of their ways and come to Jesus as the true Savior.

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In light of the upcoming fifth year anniversary of the Bin Laden raid, I review this book for this weekend’s reading recommendation.

SEAL Target Geronimo

Chuck Pfarrer. SEAL Target Geronimo: The Inside Story of the Mission to Kill Osama bin Laden.  New York, NY: Saint Martin’s Press, November 8th, 2011. 240 pp.

At first I wasn’t sure of whether or not I should read this book, having read other works surrounding the mission that killed Bin Laden especially the work No Easy Day.  I was glad that I read it because this book definitely manage to contribute to the conversation of what happened that day.  What makes this book unique is that this book was written by a former SEAL who interviewed the SEALs operators involved with the Bin Laden raid.  From these interviews the author attempt to synthesize all the accounts from the SEALs (some of which the author admit were conflicting) in order to give a better narrative of what happened that day.

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On a Saturday before Veteran’s Day, what better read for our country’s latest military veterans than a work that relates to our decade plus war–Osama Bin Laden.

Manhunt Bin Laden

This a thoroughly well researched book by a CNN journalist who was able to interview Osama Bin Laden in Afghanistan during the 1990s.  Despite the raid to kill Osama being perhaps the biggest news of our decade, much of the back story is still little known by the general public.  The author did a good job telling the story of the ten year search for the world’s most wanted man, focusing mainly on the characters of politicians, high ranking military officers and senior level intelligence officials.  Unfortunately, you won’t be able to find a “grunt’s view” of the SEALs who did the actual operation, and to date No Easy Day is the only raiders’ account.  But the story of the hunt for Osama Bin Laden goes further back in time, before the first SEAL step on Osama’s compound that fateful day in 2011.  What this book did well was describing the difficulties, personalities and dedication of those involved in the hunt of Bin Laden.

Prior to this book I was not aware that the infamous event of the biggest loss of CIA officers and contractors a few years back in Aghanistan was part of the team hunting Osama.  The author captured the determination of the team after this incident, making the hunt very personal with the deaths of their colleagues:  Some even decided not to move on to other tasks in the CIA, forgoing advancement in their careers in order to be part of the mission.

Of course the telling of the 10 year hunt for Osama also has some of its disappointment and frustration such as Bin Laden’s escape in Tora Bora, with much of what we know about it coming from the Delta Force commander on the ground name “Dalton Fury.”

From this book I also changed my view of General McChrystal, which I had a rather negative view of in the past.  Through the book, I got to appreciate McChrystal’s contribution in enhancing the capabilities of our country’s special operation forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, which indirectly contributed to the success during the operation to raid Osama’s compound.

The book also captures the political aftermath of the raid, in particular the relationship with Pakistan.  You don’t have to like Obama as president to appreciate the incredible difficulty the man has to face and the responsibility before him.

If there is a criticism I have with the book it is with with the author’s epilogue and his confidence that Al Qaeda is dying down.  While I believe Al Qaeda has suffered much strategic defeat in the last few years, I think it’s also evolving to become a more dangerous, de-centralized entity that makes it harder to track and combat.  And we’re not even beginning to consider copy cats, lone wolves and other like minded terrorists groups such as the Taliban.  Think of Major Hasan, Boston Marathon bombing and Bengazi.

Radical Islam is a threat and the author thinks that it can’t be compared to the threat of the Nazis and Communism since it doesn’t effect Europe like the way both ideologies have in the past.  My question is, why is what is going on in Europe the measure of what is dangerous?  September 11th itself was an attack on America.  My second question to the author would be whether or not he has considered the incredible growth rates of Islam in Europe already and it’s growing problems with the West’s multiculturalism?

I did get emotional reading about the day Americans found out about the raid, how CIA director left the White House surprised to hear the cheers of a spontaneous American crowd celebrating the news.  Since 2001, for over a decade America has been at war since 9/11.  It’s not only Afghanistan and Iraq but all around the globe from the Philippines to Africa.  Some of those lives lost or injured are those I served with or have known.  Like many people, it’s the memory of that day watching the news on September 11th, 2001 that the death of Bin Laden has brought some closure.  Of course complete justice will be with God one day but sometimes he allows “poetic justice” to take place this side of eternity in this case.

Definitely a worthwhile book.

Order it on Amazon!

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Purchase: Amazon

2012 will be remembered as the year of Navy SEALs autobiogrpahies. In January there was “American Sniper,” the story of Chris Kyle who is America’s sniper with the most confirmed kill in military history. Then there is “Seal of God” about a West Coast SEAL who became a Christian. But no SEAL autobiography has been able to generate so much interests and controversy in a short amount of time as this book, the story from one of the SEALs in DEVGRU (more better known with it’s old name, SEAL TEAM 6) that was involved in the Operation to get Osama Bin Laden. There’s no need to rehearse every detail of that controversy (which is still ongoing and brewing) and surely by writing this book the author has taken a lot of risks. Even as I read other reviews, there is no doubt controversies continues even with how people read and appreciated it (or not appreciate it). I thought some of the reviews of the book tells more about the reviewer’s background and values more than the book itself–no doubt my review will reflect a bit of who I am too, but I hope this review will also cause us to reflect more deeply about the last decade of warfare since 9/11, and about our society/culture and perhaps also the question of God and faith too even if you disagree with me.
I think to fully appreciate a book at times require one to ask how does it relate and fill a niche in relations to other books of the same subject or genre. So I suppose my review will keep that in consideration and from this angle, “No Easy Day” was definitely a different yet fascinating book. For starters, typically in SEALs biography, everyone gives an account of BUD/S (for the “lay” reader, we can call this SEAL boot camp of six months). This book does not, breaking the mold of the canon of SEALs autobiography. That’s because the book goes deeper and further into another world that is rarely mentioned or understood among all the SEALs books out there–the world of DEVGRU, the Navy SEALs highly secretive counter-terrorist group. Sure there is Richard Marcinko’s books, who was the founder of DEVGRU back in the 1980s when it was still known as SEAL TEAM 6. But there is little published in book form from an insider about the 21st Century, post 9/11 DEVGRU. The author describes in one of the early chapters of the book his unexpected physical try-out for DEVGRU, his acceptance into Green Squadron (the selection training in order to enter into DEVGRU’s command) and his acceptance into the team. His description of the selection and elimination process in Green Squadron is fascinating such as how candidates are required to write down whom they think are the five best candidates and five weakest candidates.
Though the author has been deployed around a dozen times this last decade of warfare suprisingly the book does not go into all the blood and gore details of most of his operation prior to the mission to get Osama. You would expect more–but then no doubt that would take away from the main story about the Bin Laden Raid–not to mention that he had to do it all in 336 pages. Readers who have been in the military would have appreciated his account of OIF 1–and things going array in their first mission. It reminds the rest of us in the military that did not serve in a SOF capacity that Navy SEALs are humans also. His account of working with DELTA was also a great insight into the other TIER 1 unit, though I suppose one might get a fuller account with Dalton Fury’s book. Going back to this book, the author also revealed his involvement in the Maersk Alabama hijacking rescue operation and his account of it indicate that this kind of operation was welcomed by the SEALs since it was a break from the routine of deployment to Iraq and Afghanistan. What I found most intriguing in the author’s account of this operation was the fact that he parachuted into the Ocean with a Navy communication guy attached to him who has never done a parachute jump before. One can imagine how frightening that is–and the thought, “No one back home is going to believe this…” I’ve seen some reviews that complained about all these back story leading up to the Bin Laden raid in the book–you can tell they are pure civilians with no grasp of operational history or biography. But for the readers who are willing to look long and reflect harder, the first half of the book should make you appreciate the incredible amount of sacrifice, skill and dedication of people like Mark Owens who worked so hard to be the best of the best in their job in order to protect us. The account of the amount of sleeping pills these guys take and the weird hours they operate during deployment (what the author calls “Vampire hours”) should make us appreciate the toll it takes on these guys–and we are not even yet discussing about the lives and injury involved in what they do.
Of course, most of the book was devoted to the raid itself. I learn from this account that it was not any one of the existing four squadrons in DEVGRU take took part in the raid but rather a special gathering of different guys who have been around the block that was gathered. From the standpoint of a military biography with an operational history bent, I thought it was good (but not good to those reviewers who are looking for some existentialists need for “feelings” to be described). Here is where I could not put the book down. The description of him being on the helicopter that crash and the amazing description of him almost falling out since he was hanging out with his legs outside the crammed blackhawk. The amazing miracle of the helicopter handing on it’s strongest point on the wall which ended up not causing the rotars to hit the dirt and chaos that would have followed. The raid itself was incredible. Here is where I suppose this review tells more about me than perhaps the author or the book itself. I couldn’t help but to note all the things that went wrong or could have went wrong but turned out to have worked miraculously as something amazing enough to provoke in me an awareness of God’s providence throughout the raid. It’s a reminder that sometimes the bad guys do get their justice here on earth right now–and that skill isn’t enough but the providence of God as well.
Just as interesting as the raid itself is the author’s story of the raid afterwards. His account of Obama and Joe Biden is worth the read. To read of a real member of “Team Six” laughing at the silly things that has been said about them is quite entertaining; he even take on some misconception the ROUGE WARRIOR and the founder of SEAL TEAM 6 himself has said to the media, revealing that Richard Marcinko’s comment about DEVGRU being the most arrogant SEALs might be a little out of touch with contemporary DEVGRU.
Overall this is a good book. It is a historical account of an important part of history–not just the Navy SEALs, the U.S. military, but to close a chapter for so many Americans who have lost loved one since that fateful day on 9/11 and from the two wars stemming from it. If you ever had shed tears on 9/11 or if you have lost people in this long war–I think this book ought to be on your shelf.

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Today (May 2nd, 2012) mark the one year anniversary of Osama Bin Laden’s death.

I thought about how the death of Osama Bin Laden is a lesson of the irony of those who boasts boldly apart from the Lord, will be humbled.

Way before most Americans knew of Osama Bin Laden, before there was September 11, and Operation Iraqi Freedom or Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan, Osama Bin Laden granted an exclusive interview to ABC John Miller on May 28th, 1998 following several years of Al Qaeda’s war against America.  Ironically, most Americans were not aware that a shadowy group existed  which declared and carried out a war against their own country.  Perhaps the most famous lines in this interview was the remark Osama Bin Laden made about American service members being “Paper Tigers”:

The youth were surprised at the low morale of the American soldiers and realized more than before that the America soldiers are paper tigers. After a few blows, the Americans ran away in defeat.

After a few blows, they forgot about being the world leader and the leader of the new world order. They left, dragging their corpses and their shameful defeat, and stopped using such titles. They learned in America that this name [i.e., God] is larger than them.

SOURCE

It turn out that thirteen years after his comments about American soldiers being paper tigers, the US Military might have been more than paper tigers.  In fact, since 9/11, the American military has been in war for ten years in the middle east, and no doubt every individual members of the NAVY SEALs behind the operation to get Bin Laden has been forged in the heat of battle for years before they even exited the helicopter that night on  May 2nd, 2011.

It turned out that the paper tigers were really something.

And it was not a smart bomb, not an attack helicopter but the very Paper Tigers that got him.

You can’t write that as a story book–or is there an Author writing this story?

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