Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page 58.
- Review Date: 2008-01-28
- Reviewer: Staff
In this annotated retrospective, the prosecutor responsible for leading the investigation of “Blind Sheikh” Omar Abdel Rahman and others involved in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing dissects the miscues between federal agencies that led to that event while laying bare the challenges facing the war on terror today. The pre-1993 comedy of errors begins with the CIA's decision to funnel arms and money to Afghanistan during the Soviet-Afghan war and continues with inexplicable lapses of communication between the State Department and immigration officials (despite having been placed on a State Department terror “watchlist,” the sheikh travels freely to the United States). The most enduring oversight, however, at least from McCarthy's perspective, is the refusal among academics and political leaders to confront fundamentalist Islamic tenets, the “800-pound gorilla that is somehow always in the middle of the room when terror strikes.” The jihadist philosophy that guided the Blind Sheikh is traced through generations of Islamic thinkers to the Prophet Mohammed himself. Though McCarthy's language is at times cumbersome, his firsthand account of jihad's rise and the sheikh's “trial of the century” is an important contribution (and in some instances, counterpoint) to existing literature on the attack that foreshadowed disaster to come. (Mar.)