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The Black Banners


On September 11, 2001, FBI Special Agent Ali H. Soufan was handed a secret file. Had he received it months earlier-when it was requested-the attacks on New York and Washington could have been prevented. During his time on the front lines, Soufan helped thwart plots around the world and elicited some of the most important confessions from terrorists in the war against al-Qaeda-without laying so much as a hand on them. Most of these stories have never been reported before, and never by anyone with such intimate firsthand knowledge.

This narrative account of America's successes and failures against al-Qaeda is essential to an understanding of the terrorist group. We are taken into hideouts and interrogation rooms. We have a ringside seat at bin Laden's personal celebration of the 9/11 bombings. Such riveting details show us not only how terrorists think and operate but also how they can be beaten and brought to justice.

 
Al Jazeera
The Senate report allegedly adopts part of a narrative from former FBI special agent Ali Soufan, who first interrogated Abu Zubaydah at the black site and wrote in his book “The Black Banners” that Mitchell was conducting an “experiment” on Abu Zubaydah.

The Washington Post
CIA veterans have expressed concern that the report reflects FBI biases. One of its principal authors is a former FBI analyst, and the panel relied in part on bureau documents as well as notes from former FBI agent Ali Soufan. Soufan was the first to interrogate Zayn al-Abidin Muhammed Hussein, the suspected al-Qaeda operative better known as Abu Zubaida, after his capture in Pakistan in 2002 and has condemned the CIA for water­boarding a prisoner he considered cooperative.

Wall Street Journal
Maj. Gen. Sarkin Yaki Bello, who leads Nigeria's military campaign against Boko Haram, ... pointed to a favorite passage in "The Black Banners," an al Qaeda history by F.B.I. agent Ali Soufan: "Our greatest failures have come," the sentence read, "when we let ourselves be guided by ignorance, fear, and brutality..."

Frontline
Among the materials he refused to allow through to bin Attash was the former FBI agent Ali Soufan’s book, The Black Banners: The Inside Story of 9/11 and the War against Al Qaeda, which contains specific references to bin Attash.

New York Review of Books
There is no secret about this strain of dissent within the government about the CIA program. Not only FBI agents, but also some CIA officers expressed qualms about waterboarding and sleep deprivation, as has been described in detail by the former FBI agent Ali H. Soufan in his 2011 book, The Black Banners: The Inside Story of 9/11 and the War Against al-Qaeda.

Time
I read The Black Banners, which was written by an FBI agent who did the investigation of the Cole bombing. You connect with the other actor. Make sure there’s trust involved and he knows he can depend upon you and rely on you, which works for the scene as well. I want to let him know, “I’m here for you at the end of the day, unburden yourself.”

The BBC
When they are eventually brought before a US jury, it is likely that one of the witnesses testifying against them will be Mr Soufan. He has written extensively about the times in his book, The Black Banners.

Time Magazine
Soufan, who detailed his role in the Cole investigation and his part in uncovering the men responsible for the Sept. 11 attacks in his book The Black Banners, notes that there are several things that have delayed the FBI’s arrival in Benghazi.

Washington Post
“You want to solve the case, but at the same time you have to protect your people,” said Soufan, the author of “The Black Banners: The Inside Story of 9/11 and the War Against al Qaeda.”

France 24
Did the CIA withhold critical information that could have prevented the 9/11 terror attacks?

Frontline, PBS
Frontline receives nine Emmy nominations, including for: The Interrogator: An interview with Ali Soufan, the FBI agent at the center of the 9/11 investigation, and author of The Black Banners: The Inside Story of 9/11 and the War Against al Qaeda.

PGO
"An absorbing account of America's fight back after 9/11, full of revealing or amusing details ... cheering as well as fascinating, because it reveals the dedication of those who defend us, as well as the weird frailties of those who try to kill us." ~The Sunday Times

The New Yorker
He answers questions about post-9/11 interrogations, the roles of the C.I.A. and F.B.I., and whether torture works.

International Herald Tribune
The judge said that he had read former FBI agent Ali Soufan’s book The Black Banners, and ten pages of the 9/11 commission report.

Frontline
Ali Soufan interview with Frontline, on The Black Banners: The Inside Story of 9/11 and the War Against al Qaeda.
 April 29 at 04:00 PM

Counterpunch
When Ali Soufan (former FBI interrogator) spoke about the uses of torture that backfire, fail to get useful information, risk the safety of soldiers, violate the laws and stain the reputation of the U.S., he can back it up with book-length details.

World Affairs Council DC
Ali Soufan presents his new book "Black Banners: The Inside Story of 9/11 and the War Against al-Qaeda" with WAC-DC members and guests.

Kojo Nnamdi Show
What motivates someone to speak out against injustice in the government or private sector?
 April 23 at 12:00 PM

Ridenhour Book Prize
This year, Ali H. Soufan has been awarded the 2012 Ridenhour Book Prize for The Black Banners: The Inside Story of 9/11 and the War Against al-Qaeda. Soufan is one of America's leading counterterrorism investigators; with The Black Banners, he has written the definitive history of al-Qaeda, and provides irrefutable evidence that torture is not only antithetical to American values, but produces false and dangerous information.

UTV
Picked from the same literary 'family', this week Jeffrey is reading The Black Banners by Ali Soufan, "a former FBI Special Agent who gives a powerful insight into 9/11, Al Qaeda and the American response to this international terrorist organisation.

The Daily Show
Former FBI special agent Ali Soufan discusses Iran, Syria, Turkey, Russia, China, and what's going on in the Middle East today, with Jon Stewart on the Daily Show.

Charlie Rose
Watch Ali Soufan on Charlie Rose, discussing The Black Banners
 January 01 at 12:00 AM

The Sunday Times
The Sunday Times selected The Black Banners, by Ali H. Soufan with Daniel Freedman, as one of their books of the year:

Foreign Policy
Real enemies will whisper about you. The murmurs and hisses to discredit Ali Soufan have echoed through the community of opinion makers and terrorism experts, and have even reached me.

Harpers Magazine
The name and face of former FBI special agent Ali Soufan have only recently become known to the public, but to those inside the U.S. government Soufan has long been something of a legend. He conducted the most effective and fruitful interrogations of Al Qaeda suspects during the war on terrorism, and save for some inexplicable failures by the CIA, he and his team might well have prevented 9/11.

Daily Telegraph
His record of getting prisoners to talk when he left the bureau six years ago was enough to bring him to the notice of the director of the FBI, who labeled him the “future of the FBI”.

Washington Post
The testimony was explosive. Here was a man on the front lines of the battle against al-Qaeda, announcing that the CIA’s brutal interrogations were “ineffective, slow and unreliable.”

Game Changer
To become the top Al-Qaeda interrogator he bluffed significant intelligence from major Al-Qaeda operatives. His secret: Knowledge. Knowledge of the enemy to be exact.

Comedy Central
Ali Soufan discussed "The Black Banners" with Stephen Colbert.
 October 20 at 10:00 PM

The Global Herald
In his first book, The Black Banners, Soufan seeks to educate readers about the history underlying the creation of al-Qaeda, activity leading up to the September 11th 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center, the real ideology espoused by al-Qaeda as well as the reality of interrogations and why torture just doesn’t work.

BBC
In his own work for the FBI, he pursued and interrogated some of al-Qaeda's top people. Now he's gone public with the story of his fight against Islamist militants, and his struggle within the American intelligence community.
 October 19 at 06:00 AM

BBC
Philip Dodd talks to Ali Soufan, whose book exposes the realities of counter-terrorism in the US intelligence community and the search for Al Qaeda.
 October 18 at 05:00 AM

BBC
Ali Soufan on the Today Program (BBC Radio 4)
 October 17 at 02:00 PM

The Daily Telegraph
Sameer Rahim asks if the FBI could have stopped 9/11, reviewing The Black Banners: Inside the Hunt for Al Qaeda by Ali H Soufan.

Booklist Review
There is much to get through in the detailed background story of bin Laden and al-Qaeda, but the revelations uncovered are worth it; this is a story that had to be told.

Mother Jones
The story of FBI interrogator Ali Soufan is a rebuke to Bush-era torture policy and ongoing Islamophobia.

BBC
Daniel Freedman talks to BBC World about al Qaeda's Dumbest Terrorists.
 October 02 at 09:00 AM

New York Magazine
Soufan was first sent to Yemen in 2000, to investigate Al Qaeda's bombing of the U.S.S. Cole. He returned after the September 11 attacks — a tragedy he believes he could have averted with greater C.I.A. cooperation, as detailed in Soufan's new book, "The Black Banners."

CNN
Ali Soufan talks to Anderson Cooper about Anwar al-Awlaki and al Qaeda in Yemen
 October 02 at 03:00 AM

The Economist
Mr Soufan’s main aim is to help Americans understand the enemy that has preoccupied them for over a decade. But he also wants to set the record straight.

CNN
Ali Soufan bluffed significant intelligence from major al Qaeda operatives

Forbes
Daniel Freedman's Forbes column on the value of highlighting al Qaeda's dumbest terrorists

CSpan
Ali Soufan talked about his book The Black Banners: The Inside Story of 9/11 and the War Against al-Qaeda. He responded to telephone calls and electronic communications
 September 24 at 07:00 PM

MSNBC
Ali Soufan discusses the situation in Pakistan and the relationship with the ISI.
 September 23 at 08:00 PM

Jeff Schechtman interview
Through all of this, through the additions of layers and layers of top secret bureaucracy, one mans efforts have truly made a difference. That man is Ali Soufan, a former FBI Supervisory Special Agent. He takes us through his journey in his new book, The Black Banners: The Inside Story of 9/11 and the War Against al-Qaeda.
 September 22 at 06:00 AM

Toronto Star
Terrorism, waterboarding and CIA censorship: Ex-FBI agent Ali Soufan talks to The Star: http://www.thestar.com/news/world/article/1054743--terrorism-waterboarding-and-cia-censorship-ex-fbi-agent-ali-soufan-talks-to-the-star

Fox News
Former FBI agent Ali Soufan recounts his eight years of counterterrorism work for the FBI and explains why 9/11 could’ve been prevented as well as wh
 September 15 at 11:00 AM

MSNBC
Could the CIA have stopped 9/11?
 September 14 at 04:00 PM

The New Yorker
What does one ask an interrogator who has questioned dozens of members of Al Qaeda? And how does he ask questions himself?

Bloomberg
Lundborg: I was surprised how much detail you had gathered early on about al-Qaeda, an organization generally regarded as opaque and difficult to penetrate.

PBS Frontline
The Interrogator: An extended conversation with Ali Soufan, an FBI agent who was at the center of the 9/11 investigations.
 September 13 at 10:30 PM

Current TV
In this exclusive Web extra, Ali Soufan, a former FBI special agent and author of The Black Banners, details critical intelligence the CIA had well before 9/11 about al-Qaeda and the hijackers that was not shared with the FBI before the attacks.
 September 13 at 09:00 PM

PBS
A former interrogator on what led to 9/11 and mistakes made in the war against al Qaeda.
 September 13 at 03:00 PM

TSG
"You can't stop the mujahideen," Abu Jandal told me on September 17, 2001

MSNBC
Ali Soufan talks to MSNBC's Morning Joe about "The Black Banners."
 September 13 at 10:00 AM

BBC
A former FBI agent who worked at the heart of America's battle against al-Qaeda has told the BBC he is being prevented from telling the truth as he challenges the back story of 9/11 and what has happened since.
 September 13 at 03:00 AM

Rachel Maddow Show
Behind the scenes on the hunt for al Qaeda. Ali Soufan on the Rachel Maddow Show:
 September 12 at 10:35 PM

Spiegel
Former FBI agent Ali Soufan successfully interrogated captured Islamist terrorists after 9/11 without resorting to "enhanced' techniques. In a SPIEGEL interview, he revealed how he got jihadists to talk using tea and trucker magazines and explained how 9/11 could have been prevented.

NPR
On Sept. 12, 2001, Ali H. Soufan, a special agent with the FBI, was handed a secret file. Soufan had spent nearly a decade investigating terrorism cases, like the bombing of the U.S.S. Cole.

Forbes
If interviewers want to stump former Vice President Dick Cheney on his book tour, they should ask him about the October 6, 2002, attack on the French oil tanker the Limburg,

New York Times
WASHINGTON — In a new memoir, a former F.B.I. agent who tracked Al Qaeda before and after the Sept. 11 attacks paints a devastating picture of rivalry and dysfunction inside the government’s counterterrorism agencies.

60 Minutes
Former FBI Agent Ali Soufan explains why al Qaeda operatives don't like being caught in a lie and how he took advantage of that to get a confession from Osama bin Laden's personal secretary. Read more: http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=7380694n&tag=segementExtraScroller;housing#ixzz1Xh99l2DS
 September 11 at 08:35 PM

60 Minutes
Add a Comment Share this Video: Extra: Identifying the 9/11 hijackers September 11, 2011 5:00 PM Former FBI agent Ali Soufan recalls interrogating Abu Jandal, Osama bin Laden's bodyguard, and getting Jandal to identify the 9/11 hijackers from a book of photos of known al Qaeda members. Read more: http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=7380686n&tag=segementExtraScroller;housing#ixzz1XhALnBBB
 September 11 at 08:32 PM

60 Minutes
Few know more about the 9/11 investigation than Ali Soufan, who questioned Qaeda members after the attack. The former FBI agent reveals himself for the first time and talks about his interrogations in an interview with Lara Logan. Read more: http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=7380680n&tag=segementExtraScroller;housing#ixzz1XhFXbjPw
 September 11 at 08:07 PM

60 Minutes
Few know more about the 9/11 investigation than Ali Soufan, who questioned Qaeda members after the attack.
 September 11 at 08:00 PM

CBS News
Ali Soufan, the Lebanese-American FBI agent whose questioning of Qaeda members after 9/11 gleaned valuable intelligence - including confirmation that Khalid Sheik Mohammed was the mastermind of the attacks - reveals his face for the first time in a "60 Minutes" interview with Lara Logan to be broadcast Sunday, September 11 at 7 p.m. ET/PT on the CBS Television Network.

New York Times
W. W. Norton and Company has high hopes for one book it plans to release on Sept. 12: the memoir of Ali H. Soufan, a former F.B.I. agent who played a major role in terrorism investigations between 1997 and 2005. A spokeswoman for Norton said that the book, “The Black Banners,” will have close to 150,000 copies in print when it is released, a significant number in these days of e-books and struggling brick-and-mortar bookstores.

New York Times
WASHINGTON — In what amounts to a fight over who gets to write the history of the Sept. 11 attacks and their aftermath, the Central Intelligence Agency is demanding extensive cuts from the memoir of a former F.B.I. agent who spent years near the center of the battle against Al Qaeda.

ALI H. SOUFAN is a former FBI Supervisory Special Agent who investigated and supervised highly sensitive and complex international terrorism cases, including the East Africa Embassy Bombings, the attack on the USS Cole, and the events surrounding 9/11. Mr. Soufan is regarded as a leading national security and counter-terrorism expert, and continues to play a significant advisory role on today's most sensitive issues. [MORE]


DANIEL FREEDMAN is the Director of Strategy and Policy Analysis of The Soufan Group and Forbes columnist. [MORE]

Ali Soufan

Ali Soufan is the Chief Executive Officer of the Soufan Group LLC. Mr. Soufan is a former FBI Supervisory Special Agent who investigated and supervised highly sensitive and complex international terrorism cases, including the East Africa Embassy Bombings, the attack on the USS Cole, and the events surrounding 9/11. Mr. Soufan is regarded as a leading national security and counter-terrorism expert, and continues to play a significant advisory role on today's most sensitive issues.

Mr. Soufan had a distinguished career in the FBI. He often operated out of hostile environments and carried out sensitive extra-territorial missions and high-level negotiations. Mr. Soufan also served on the Joint Terrorist Task Force, FBI New York Office, where he coordinated both domestic and international counter-terrorism operations.

Mr. Soufan has received numerous awards and commendations for his counter-terrorism work. These include the Director of the FBI's Award for Excellence in Investigation, the Respect for Law Enforcement Award for "relentless pursuit of truth and bringing terrorist subjects before the bar of justice," and a commendation from the U.S. Department of Defense that labeled him "an important weapon in the ongoing war on terrorism."

Mr. Soufan's work in the FBI was noticed by the former Mayor of New York, Rudolph W. Giuliani who hired him to serve as the Chief Operations Officer of the International Division of Giuliani Security & Safety LLC, a division of Giuliani Partners LLC. Mr. Soufan was instrumental in expanding the global reach of GSS.

Mr. Soufan serves as the Executive Director of the Qatar International Academy for Security Studies (QIASS) and as a Visiting Senior Fellow in the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore. He has appeared as an expert panelist and as a guest speaker at international security forums, both in the United States and abroad.

Mr. Soufan has been profiled, interviewed, and been a contributor to numerous publications worldwide, including the New Yorker, Newsweek, the Washington Post, the New York Times, the Straits Times, and Asharq Alawsat. Mr. Soufan's record has also been detailed in non-fiction books, including "The Looming Tower" by Lawrence Wright.

Mr. Soufan is an Honors graduate from Mansfield University of Pennsylvania where he received undergraduate degrees in International Studies and Political Science. He is a Magna Cum Laude graduate of Villanova University where he received a Master of Arts in International Relations.

Daniel Freedman

Daniel Freedman is the Director of Strategy and Policy Analysis of The Soufan Group. He also serves as the Director of Policy Analysis at the Qatar International Academy for Security Studies (QIASS).

Prior to joining the Soufan Group, Mr. Freedman served as the senior writer for Senator Joseph I. Lieberman, covering both U.S. domestic policy and international affairs for the senator. Mr. Freedman moved to the U.S. Senate after working at the United Nations, where he served directly under Ann M. Veneman, the Executive Director of the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF).

He joined the United Nations after serving as Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani's foreign policy analyst for his presidential campaign. In this capacity - working with Yale professor and former career diplomat Charles Hill - he advised on all areas of foreign policy, hosted foreign diplomats and international organizations, and managed 12 foreign policy task forces of more than 80 scholars.

Mr. Freedman started his career as an editorial writer, first for the Wall Street Journal Europe, and then for the New York Sun. At the New York Sun he was promoted to the position of Online Editor and made a member of the paper's editorial board. He has also worked in the British Parliament.

Mr. Freedman is a widely published author who writes about topics ranging from international affairs and domestic U.S. politics to travel and business. He currently writes a fortnightly column for Forbes, and his work has appeared in many other publications, including in The Wall Street Journal, Chicago Tribune, and City Journal.

He also appears on television and radio shows across the world, ranging from the BBC to MSNBC.

Mr. Freedman is an established public speaker who has been the featured guest at academic, charity, and social events. He has appeared at high profile venues around the world, including the Sciences Po in Paris, France, the Tate Modern Art Gallery in London, England, and the Harvard Club in New York City.

He is a graduate of the London School of Economics.