To most in the West, 'al-Qaeda' is seen as a byword for terror: a deadly, highly organised fanatical group masterminded by Osama bin Laden. But does this tell the whole truth? Prize-winning journalist Jason Burke has spent a decade reporting from the heart of the Middle East and gaining unprecedented access to the world of radical Islam. Now, drawing on his frontline experience of recent events in Iraq and Afghanistan, on secret documents and astonishing interviews with intelligence officers, militants, mujahideen commanders and bin Laden's associates, he reveals the full story of al-Qaeda - and demolishes the myths that underpin the 'war on terror'. Burke demonstrates that in fact 'al-Qaeda' is merely a convenient label applied by the West to a far broader - and thus more dangerous - phenomenon of Islamic militancy, and shows how eradicating a single figure or group will do nothing to combat terrorism. Only by understanding the true, complex nature of al-Qaeda, he argues, can we address the real issues surrounding our security today.
Jason Burke is the prize-winning Chief Reporter for the Observer. He has covered the Middle East and Southwest Asia for a decade, and saw many of the key events described in this book at first hand.