The Exile: The Stunning Inside Story of Osama Bin Laden and Al Qaeda in Flight- Review

The Exile: The Stunning Inside Story of Osama Bin Laden and Al Qaeda in Flight

Author: Adrian Levy, Catherine Scott-Clark

Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing

Pages: 640; Price: Rs 699

The Exile: The Stunning Inside Story of Osama Bin Laden and Al Qaeda in Flight, is an absolute page turner as the reader gets a minute-by-minute reconstruction of the decade-long search for the Al-Qaeda Chief, Osama bin Laden, starting from 2001 that finally ended with his death in 2011 in Abbottabad in Pakistan. It is a compelling and intense read.  This is perhaps the only book that provides insight to the inner workings of Al Qaeda, their concepts and the understanding of how the Jihadis operate. It is exemplary journalism by investigative journalists Cathy Scott-Clark and Adrian Levy. Unlike the movie Zero Thirty Seconds wherein the events have been selectively chosen, this book gives you the unedited version of what really happened. The Exile narrates the chilling events of the Abbottabad encounter through the eyes of those who witnessed it: his four wives and their numerous children, his deputies and military strategists, his spiritual advisor, the CIA, Pakistan’s ISI, and many others who have never before told their stories. It also clearly sights the role of Pakistani Intelligence Agency and its close links with bin Laden or Sheikh as he was known in Al Qaeda’s inner circles. The shocking silence from the officials in Pakistan after the encounter does leave many questions unanswered. Laden’s reactions in the last few hours before he died and his attachment to his many wives and their children that made him take risks during his long decade in hiding provides a rare glimpse of the man behind the poster boy of terrorism. His wish to be reunited with his third wife Khairiah who was brought to the Abbottabad compound in deep secrecy in February 2011 was perhaps his worst move.In the

In the end, Laden’s last wife Amal was sure that his third wife Khairiah had betrayed them. Interestingly, when he was finally captured and killed it was difficult for the US Navy SEALs to be sure if this was indeed their man. They ran identity checks a couple of times to make sure they have bin Laden. The book keeps you on the edge till the end. The graphic detail in the passages especially on the events of D-day when bin Laden is finally traced is camera-ready. One can well imagine the scene inside the house when the walls of the house vibrated with the sound of US Navy SEAL in a moonless night at Abbottabad and the family knew their safe house was a death trap.

The Exile is a significant book to be read by anyone who would like to understand history, terrorism, security and future relations with the Islamic world.

The two authors have been longtime collaborators on books such as The Meadow Kashmir 1995 – Where the Terror Began, and the most recent The Siege: 68 Hours Inside the Taj Hotel. The former is a careful and disturbing account of a brutal kidnapping that paved the way for 9/11 and the latter is the terrorist attack in Mumbai on November 26, 2008, by Lashkar-e-Toiba that targeted places throughout the city including the TajMahal Palace Hotel, where the hostages were trapped for 68 hours inside the hotel.

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