Osama bin Laden by Michael Scheuer - review by Michael Burleigh

Michael Burleigh


Osama bin Laden


Oxford University Press 278pp £14.99

Michael Scheuer spent twenty-two years in the CIA. From 1996 to 1999 he was head of the Agency’s bin Laden unit. This was called ‘Alec Station’, after Scheuer’s son. During these years bin Laden embarked on his exodus from Sudan, and established himself in Jalalabad and Kandahar among the Afghan Taleban loyal to Mullah Omar. When Alec Station was closed down and its staff reassigned, Scheuer resigned from the CIA to become a private-sector expert on US foreign policy and Islamist terrorism.

Scheuer’s forthright views have brought him trouble. He believes that US foreign policy is largely to blame for the West’s problems with the Muslim world and that al-Qaeda is merely an extreme manifestation of a much wider Islamist insurgency. More specifically, Scheuer thinks that uncritical US support for

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