Doyle, a retired "civil slave," is a freelance writer
in Northeast Florida. According to Don, her long-suffering husband,
"I'm so glad she's giving someone else hell for a change,
instead of me."
August 30th, 2002
RELENTLESS PURSUIT: THE DSS AND THE MANHUNT FOR THE AL-QAEDA
M. Katz (Forge, 297 pp. $25)
October 10, 2001, less than one month after the destruction of
the World Trade Center and the attack on the Pentagon, and three
days after bombing of al-Qaeda sites in Afghanistan began, President
George W. Bush and U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft announced
the Federal Bureau of Investigation's first "Most
Wanted Terrorists" list.
As the televised press conference continued, each name read and
photograph shown, the specific reason for that individual's inclusion
on the list was given. From various Middle East countries, all
were members of al-Qaeda or belonged to other Islamic terrorist
organizations with ties to it. Many on the list were believed
directly involved with September 11th's attacks; others, with
previous terrorist actions against the United States.
Some argued that blaming al-Qaeda for 9-11 was a rush to judgment
or simply a political ploy. Others recalled previous attacks by
al-Qaeda forces on U.S. embassies in Beirut, Nairobi, and Dar
es Salaam; the U.S.S. Cole in Yemen; military barracks in Saudi
Arabia and within in the United States itself, the 1993 bombing
of the World Trade Center.
Also present at the press conference were Federal agents from
the Diplomatic Security Service (DSS), a small, unheralded arm
of the U.S. Department of State. Not only had DSS agents been
involved in the investigations that identified the 22 on that
list, in many instances they'd been present when these
attacks had occurred.
Using information from previously published sources and interviews,
some of which were conducted before September 11, Samuel M. Katz
[See Sidebar] examines attacks by al-Qaeda or sponsored by it
prior to that date, and the trail of evidence that links
them. It also explains al-Qaeda's beginnings, growth, widespread
support, and why the war against the terrorism will not be a short
When the Soviets withdrew from their failed invasion of Afghanistan,
they left behind not only a land and people they'd failed to conquer
but al-Qaeda's beginnings.
Unlike an army that fights to defend a region or nation, Afghani
forces had been filled with Muslims who'd come from around the
world not to fight for a country or its freedom, but solely to
battle Infidels in defense of Islam itself. When the Soviets left,
many of these Muslims returned to their own countries and fundamentalist
organizations, spreading al-Qaeda's spawn. Now structured like
a multinational corporation, al-Qaeda, "The Base," provides
direction, coordination and support for these well-established
regional companies: the various worldwide Islamic terrorist
groups through which its attacks are orchestrated.
Not all of the al-Qaeda attacks described in Relentless Pursuit
have been successful, nor have they been directed just against
the United States. Some have been stopped, others abandoned. And
some, such as the bombing of Philippine Airlines Flight 434 in
1994, were simply tests conducted to ensure the success of later,
larger operations. [See Photo]
Surprisingly, Katz begins not in the Middle East, Africa or Asia,
but in midtown Manhattan with the 1990 murder of Meir Kahane,
founder of the radical Jewish Defense League, by El Sayyid Nosair.
Arrested almost immediately, Nosair was believed to be working
alone. No one recognized at the time that the fanatical Islamic
material; stolen, classified U.S. military documents and plans
for attacks on New York City later found in his New Jersey home,
were harbingers of things to come.
Although Katz does not claim Nosair had direct al-Qaeda connections,
he begins to show the intricate weave of its historical affiliations
and relationships through Nosair's association with other followers
of Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman, the blind Muslim cleric later convicted
and still incarcerated for his participation in the 1993 World
Trade Center bombing.
Katz writes sparingly, allowing the biographical, historical and
political information he provides throughout to speak for itself.
The best and clearest examples of how entrenched al-Qaeda's influence
is in various countries and governments come directly from his
interviews with DSS personnel.
DSS agents stationed overseas have no legal authority except within
the embassy or consulate they are assigned to, where, as Katz
parallels it a bit too often, each is like a marshal in an Old
West town. Totally responsible for the security of the embassy
itself and the safety of the diplomatic personnel visiting or
assigned to it, the RSO (Regional Security Officer) carefully
cultivates relationships with members of that nation's law enforcement
agencies. Katz uses their stories especially well to explain al-Qaeda's
strength in certain countries, and why some governments that have
been acknowledged as partners in the war against terrorism, are
probably only playing lip service to that commitment.
I'd never heard of the DSS before and Katz admits he hadn't either
until the 1995 capture of Ramzi Yousef, the globetrotting mastermind
behind the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center and many other
attacks. [See Sidebar] The section on his pursuit and ultimate
arrest in Pakistan provides the best example of DSS operations
and how their domestic and overseas responsibilities mesh. It
is also gives a harsh taste of political realities, some of which
involve failures in our own government.
If you're looking for something you can zip through, this is not
the book. Relentless Pursuit requires careful reading.
Katz attempts to ease the journey he leads through technical jargon
concerning fingerprints, triggering devices and the chemical composition
of explosive devices used; visas, passports and manifests from
arriving and departing flights. Katz's best technique for dealing
with this potentially confusing information consists of frequent
reminders taking the reader back to where he'd first introduced
the information. These reminders can be helpful; they can also
be annoying when they become too frequent.
Still, this is a compelling story. It is a very human one with
its peeks into the DSS and the experiences and perspectives of
its agents. Unlike antiseptic media reports, these personal accounts
drive the reader on.
9-11's first anniversary approaches.
Now that the Taliban has been ousted from its governing role in
Afghanistan and al-Qaeda's presence there is much less apparent,
demands are being made for a specific date when the War on Terrorism
will end. There is no need to continue, some say. The battle has
Katz disagrees. It's not one battle, he states, just the first
in a long war that the United States only acknowledged after September
Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda, with their support, technical sophistication
and financial resources, are confident of their ultimate victory.
Among the many weapons at their disposal, they believe one of
their best is the U.S. itself and the lack of resolve it has shown
in the past.
Al-Qaeda has purposefully spaced its attacks widely apart. The
U.S. has occasionally replied with a quick flexing of its military
muscle, and they expect the same token response to 9-11. Then
once again the United States, weak and decadent, will choose to
forget what happened as if nothing ever had.
So it is that al-Qaeda, only temporarily inconvenienced, will
continue onward with its unholy vision of by whatever means necessary,
converting the world to Islam.
Samuel M. Katz (From the book jacket)
M. Katz is the author of over 20 books and more than
a hundred articles on the Middle East, police and military
special operations, the history of international terrorism
and security issues. The editor in chief of Special
Ops, a journal that profiles military and law enforcement
special operations units worldwide, his work has appeared
in Playboy, Esquire, and Jane's Intelligence Review,
and on the Discovery channel, A&E, and the Learning
Diplomatic Security Service
responsibilities of the Diplomatic Security Service
include investigations of visa and passport fraud, maintaining
the safety of the Secretary of State and foreign dignitaries
visiting the United States, and maintaining security
for United States diplomatic missions, embassies and
consulates worldwide. http://www ds.state.gov/about/history/