Conversations with Terrorists: Middle East Leaders on Politics, Violence, and Empire

Conversations with Terrorists: Middle East Leaders on Politics, Violence, and Empire

Conversations with Terrorists: Middle East Leaders on Politics, Violence, and Empire

Conversations with Terrorists: Middle East Leaders on Politics, Violence, and Empire

Synopsis

Drawing on original research and firsthand interviews, Conversations with Terrorists offers critical portraits of six Middle Eastern leaders often labeled as terrorists: Syrian president Bashar Al-Assad, Hamas top leader Khaled Meshal, Israeli politician Geula Cohen, Iranian Revolutionary Guard founder Mohsen Sazargara, Hezbollah spiritual advisor Grand Ayatollah Mohammed Fadlallah, and former Afghan Radio and Television Ministry head Malamo Nazamy.

Veteran journalist Reese Erlich offers them a chance to explain key issues and to respond to charges leveled by the United States. Critiquing these responses and synthesizing a broad range of material, Erlich shows that yesterday's terrorist is today's national leader, and that today's freedom fighter may become tomorrow's terrorist. He concludes that the global war on terror has diverted public attention from the war's real goal--expanding U.S. influence and interests in the Middle East--and offers policy remedies.

Excerpt

I served as a field officer in the cia from 1976 to 1997, experiencing firsthand many of the incidents described in Conversations with Terrorists. Erlich tells the personal stories of both well- and little-known Middle East players, weaving together a fascinating mosaic of how U.S. officials and media have misled the American people about the Middle East. He makes valuable suggestions on how to change U.S. policy and undermine extremists in the region.

I joined the cia out of curiosity about other peoples and cultures. I first served in India, quickly moved to the Arab world, and was stationed in Lebanon during a very tumultuous time. I was particularly interested in the April 18, 1983, bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Beirut. It was a very good operation from a technical standpoint. the car bomber drove into the lobby, obstructed the guards’ line of fire, and detonated the explosives—killing over 60 staff, cia, and military personnel. We never did identify the driver; the truck was stolen and not traceable. On October 23, 1983, a similar truck bomb attack killed 299 American Marines and French soldiers in Beirut.

The U.S. government still blames Hezbollah for both bombings, part of the rationale for declaring it a terrorist organization today. As . . .

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