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The Last Refuge: Yemen, Al-Qaeda, and America's War in Arabiaby Gregory Johnsen
Synopses & Reviews
Far from the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan, the United States and al-Qaeda are fighting a clandestine war of drones and suicide bombers in an unforgiving corner of Arabia. charts the rise, fall, and resurrection of al-Qaeda in Yemen over the last thirty years, detailing how a group that the United States once defeated has now become one of the world's most dangerous threats. An expert on Yemen who has spent years on the ground there, Gregory D. Johnsen uses al-Qaeda's Arabic battle notes to reconstruct their world as they take aim at the United States and its allies. Johnsen brings readers in-side al-Qaeda's training camps and safe houses as the terrorists plot poison attacks and debate how to bring down an airliner on Christmas Day. The Last Refuge is an eye-opening look at the successes and failures of fighting a new type of war in one of the most turbulent countries in the world.
"As the ancestral home of Osama bin Laden and many high-level al-Qaeda operatives, Yemen has long held a powerful appeal for jihadis: its remote and unforgiving terrain, weak central government, and shifting tribal rivalries make it more like outlaw-friendly Afghanistan than any other Arab country. Johnsen, a former Yemen-based Fulbright fellow, has produced the first comprehensive history of the al-Qaeda movement there: an engrossing account of the operations, personalities, and motivations that have caused the United States such headaches. Drawing upon both American sources and documents captured from insurgents, he offers a sophisticated look at complex phenomena, even though his knowledge of al-Qaeda's inner workings tends to be limited and speculative. Although the background of tribal politics and Wahhabi religious institutions that made Yemen a terrorist nerve center is largely eschewed in favor of the details of drone attacks and suicide bombings, Johnsen exposes the frequent missteps of both the insurgents and American authorities, including errors that caused the CIA to waste years tracking down con men and fraudsters. The story ends ambiguously. Today, the movement's leadership is in disarray, but in the chaos of Yemen's civil war, al-Qaeda fighters have established hegemony over significant regions of the country, potentially ready to pose further problems. Agent: Rick Broadhead at, Rick Broadhead & Associates. (Nov.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
A gripping account of how al-Qaeda in Yemen rebounded from an initial defeat to once again threaten the United States.
About the Author
Gregory D. Johnsen, a former Fulbright Fellow in Yemen, is a PhD candidate at Princeton University and the Michael Hastings National Security Fellow at BuzzFeed. A frequent guest on NPR, he has contributed essays to the New York Times. He lives in Ithaca, New York.
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