In May last year US President Barack Obama announced on special press conference the death of most wanted and most hunted person in the world, Osama bin Laden, in Pakistani city of Abbottabad. At that moment we all wanted to know more, to dive deep into the details of covered SEAL mission, to see bin Laden corpse and to learn how US intelligence finally traced Al-Qaeda leader. Over the last year we saw that incredible picture of Obama’s closest team watching live stream of action in bin Laden compound, we hear the story how Al-Qaeda leaders body rests at the bottom of Arabian Sea, and got a chance to discuss the general details of what happen in the compound on that night. Now we have a chance to trace bin Laden’s journey from 9/11 to May 2011 in Abbottabad through the Peter L. Bergen newest book, Manhunt: The Ten-Year Search For Bin Laden – From 9/11 to Abbottabad.
In this on moments dramatic encounters of bin Laden life, he’s personal and familiar struggles to the White House Situation room, the Oval Office and counterterrorism analyst team operation rooms Bergen expertly leads us from one part of the world to the other. Bergen is using his previous experiences with Al-Qaeda and bin Laden, as one of the rare western journalist who interviewed bin Laden, to put right people at right places in right times and to combine their action with previous or later actions and their consequences. What also distinct his book from many others written on this topic is waste network of informants in Pakistani and US administrations and intelligence community. They fed him with crucial key pieces of informations crucial for completion of the puzzle on most wanted man life since 2001. That is how we learned details about life in bin Laden’s compound, exactly what happened in that historic night in Abbottabad but also what kind of repercussions to whole Al-Qaeda network come with extensive usage of drone against them in last few years.
To me fascinating element of this book is that unique chance to peek into the world of making decisions like this one at the most important places in the world. Reading personal testimonies of CIA operatives who spent countless nights, days, months and years sifting though numerous sources and data trying to find this terrorist and his top lieutenants opens whole new horizons in front of your eyes. Only then you can realize that making decision about someone’s life and death, or to send somebody to that particular mission is not easy nor delightful job to be done. On the other hand same process done in the political branch in this case of US government is nothing more easier because giving order to kill someone or intervene in other country sovereign space could trig different stream of events with numerous repercussions on your own soil. There’s no often chance for to read such detailed accounts of Obama actions and exact words said in the moments of making historical decisions, but Bergen’s previous work on these issues opened some of the toughest sealed doors and prove once more his quality as reporter, expert and writer.
Bergen’s book is the final testament about once strong and decisive leader of terrorist network which managed to deploy the most horrific attack on US soil, and to shake many worlds nations through different kinds of attacks. This testament will forever record bin Laden as man who spends his time in hiding, feeding himself and his lieutenants with imagination and false hopes to be again same old terrorist masterminds. Seal will be put on the last years of illusionist life and will shape new opinion about bin Laden’s network which will probably never ever agin play any significant role on the world stage. I’m pretty sure his book will be one of the classics when it comes to research and study of terrorism phenomenons from the last two decades of 20th century.