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"The Cell" Makes the Potential of Radical Islamic Terrorism More Understandable

Dave Aiello wrote, "I just finished reading The Cell: Inside the 9/11 Plot, And Why the FBI and CIA Failed to Stop It and I recommend it highly. Before I started reading 'The Cell', I had read as many news accounts of the War on Terrorism as I could. But, the depth and complexity of newspaper and magazine articles on this or any subject is limited."

"I found that this book helped me put together a lot of the pieces of information that I had gathered from news accounts. For instance, I remembered that Meir Kahane was assassinated in New York City in 1990, but I was not aware of the extent to which that assassination was linked to subsequent terrorist activity in the United States and abroad. John Miller and Michael Stone, the co-authors of this book, draw clear connections between the Kahane assassination, the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, and 9/11."

"The book also delves into the politics of the relationship between the NYPD, the FBI, and the CIA. All of these organizations were proud of their independence and protective of their roles in terror attack investigations and counter intelligence. This contributed to the myopia that caused all levels of government to miss opportunities to stop the 9/11 attacks. But, the book also points out a number of coincidental developments that diverted the government's attention from what would have been productive investigations."

Dave Aiello continued:

'The Cell' also recounts an interview that John Miller did with Osama bin Laden for ABC's 20/20 prior to the U.S. Embassy bombings in East Africa. In retrospect, bin Laden served notice on American television that his organization was planning major attacks on U.S. interests. It's interesting to hear Miller's perspective in the aftermath of the 9/11 attack, particularly since he was so close to a number of the investigative people who lost their lives on that fateful day.

But the real power of the book, in my opinion, is its ability to create in me a sense of the potential damage that radical Islamic terrorist groups could inflict on Western countries in the future. Once I got into the book, I began seeing connections between seemingly disconnected events. Only then did it become clear to me that these organizations had built up their capability to attack the United States from within over a period of years. The attack on 9/11, therefore, was not beginner's luck.

The best way to head off attacks that might occur in the near future is probably to infiltrate groups that are already present in the United States and other Western countries. But this infiltration must occur on a much deeper level than had previously been possible. Counter intelligence agencies also need dramatically greater access to cultural resources: translators, experts on Middle Eastern culture, and historians. Had some of these resources been available prior to 9/11, anti-terror investigators might have pieced together information they already had to uncover a part of the plot.

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