by Peter Lance
1000 Years for Revenge
ReganBooks, September, 2003.
Hardcover, 539 pages.
In the months following the tragedy of 9/11, the nation was more concerned with mourning than with assigning blame and accepted the FBI's assertions to the media that they had no warning whatsoever that terrorists were planning to fly two jets into the World Trade Center -- that it was some kind of unforeseeable, freak occurrence. Now, two years later, new evidence uncovered by award winning investigative journalist Peter Lance makes it clear that 9/11 was preventable.
Lance's book, which reads more like an exciting international thriller than a dry work of fiction, tells the story of how al-Qaeda planned the events of 9/11 -- beginning in 1989. The story is told through the eyes of three people: FBI agent Nancy Floyd who came very close to stopping the first World Trade Center bombing before having her informant scared off and her case destroyed by her superiors, FDNY Fire Marshal Ronnie Bucca who found an al-Qaeda mole in the FDNY but was ignored by the FBI and was the only fire marshal to die in 9/11, and Ramzi Yousef, master bomber, architect of 9/11 and the most dangerous terrorist to ever set foot on U.S. soil.
Peter Lance connects the dots of the story of Osama bin Laden's master plan to destroy the United States with chilling precision. The story focuses on al-Qaeda's bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993, and the terrorist cell that operated in the United States, led by one of the founders of al-Qaeda, the Egyptian blind Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman. The group plotted, planned and prospered, while the FBI missed numerous chances to stop them. One example: As al-Qaeda members practiced firing automatic weapons at a range in Long Island day after day, the FBI sat in a car watching them. Eventually that investigation was dropped. Lance makes it easy for the reader by including a full-color, illustrated timeline of events in the middle of the book. The timeline puts faces to the names, and clearly connects the dots as the various plots to destroy American landmarks come to fruition.
Lance's book stands out form the current crop of books about 9/11 in several respects. No other author has put the facts together in a simple, comprehensive, chronological narrative which makes it very clear what really happened. Lance seems to have no personal ax to grind, unlike other authors who seem intent on blaming either the Clinton or the Bush administration for the intelligence fiascoes. Lance, like a good journalist, simply followed the trail of facts and ties them together for the reader. He analyzes why the FBI is really the wrong organization for fighting terror because of its emphasis on making legal cases after the fact, instead of focusing on stopping threats before they start. He also shows how courageous FBI agents were thwarted from doing their jobs by the Bureau's institutional arrogance and tendency to punish agents who spoke their minds. (One vividly remembers FBI whistleblower Colleen Rowley's riveting testimony on this subject to Congress). Perhaps the most disturbing aspect of the book is the assessment of the current al-Qaeda threat to the United States, which Lance asserts is even greater today than it was two years ago. Highly recommended.
--Claire E. White
1000 Years for Revenge is available for purchase on Amazon.com
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This review was published in the September-October, 2003 of The Internet Writing Journal.
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