Book talk to feature bin Laden hunt
Published 7:00 am Friday, September 11, 2015
On Sept. 15, the Friends of the Margaret Reed Crosby Memorial Library Brown Bag Book Review will kick off this year’s series of programs with an in-depth review of Peter Bergen’s “Man Hunt: The 10-year Search for bin Laden from 9/11 to Abbottabad,” by former federal agent and counterterrorism analyst Sandy Connor.
Connor moved to Picayune in 2005 after a 20-year career working in cooperation with the CIA in Washington, D.C.
“As a veteran of federal investigations, I want to give legitimacy to this book and the reporter who wrote this proactive book on the search for bin Laden,” Connor said.
According to Brown Bag Book Review release, Bergen is a journalist and terrorism analyst at CNN and has written a number of books based on his experiences.
In 1998, Bergen was one of the first western reporters to interview bin Laden, Connor said.
During that particular interview, when asked about future plans, bin Laden said, ‘‘You’ll see them and hear about them in the media. God willing,’’ Crassons said. Bergen’s novel, “War Room Inc.: Inside the Secret World of Osama bin Laden” documents his pursuit of knowledge about the well-known terrorist.
The search for bin Laden began long before the World Trade Center was attacked, Connor said. It began after attacks such as the USS Cole and Embassy bombings in 2000 and 1998. However, after 9/11, the CIA had to change the way they hunted terrorists, Connor said.
“During the Cold War, the CIA was very cloak and dagger,” she said. “That had to change when hunting for bin Laden. The CIA only works in foreign countries, they do not spy on American citizens. They go where they have assets and recruit sympathizers to the cause to spy. Some have altruistic reasons for spying and others do it for the money. The CIA doesn’t care as long as the job gets done.”
In order to hunt for bin Laden, the CIA created a link analyst chart, Connor said, which had never been done before. Each analyst was assigned a group, some were experts on Saudi group (the financiers) and other experts on Pakistani terrorist cells.
The only method for law enforcement agencies to gain access into a foreign country is through INTERPOL, Connor said. INTERPOL is comprised of three tiers. The first being law enforcement officials, the second is a group of attorneys and the third is made up of judges, she said.
“Field agents on the lookout for someone will contact INTERPOL’s national office in Washington D.C., who then contact the foreign country’s liaison, if there is a working INTERPOL liaison agreement,” Connor said. “It is up to their discretion if they will work with us. If we conduct a criminal investigation in a foreign country, we could be jailed because we don’t have jurisdiction.”
Assets from every intelligence community from United States law enforcement, informational calls to online chatter were utilized in the hunt for bin Laden, Connor said. Interrogation methods, which included torture, were also used to gain information, which was condoned by former U.S. President George W. Bush and Congress, she said.
“I want to explain the book so people realize what happened wasn’t just about 9/11,” Connor said. “Osama and his network can be traced to the original bombing at the first World Trade Center in 1993. Just because he’s dead does not mean the war is over and the war on terrorism will continue. They just won’t let it go.”
Connor will also be showing a portion of the HBO documentary based on the book during Tuesday’s program.
The documentary features real analysts and chiefs in counterterrorism top officers, she said. Attendees are warned that there are a few graphic words in the film.
The program will be held at Crosby Library’s Holland Hall on Sept. 15 at noon. Guests are encouraged to bring their lunch and Friends of the Library will supply drinks and desserts.
The Brown Bag Book Review’s future line up will feature all Mississippi authors, who will speak about their books, Crassons said, which will be held in Holland Hall at the Crosby Library.
The next review will be held on Nov. 17 at 2 p.m., where Ashton Lee will talk about her book, “A Cherry Cola Christmas.” On Jan. 19 at noon, Pearl River County authors Mary Beth Magee and Jan Penton Miller will speak about their entries featured in the “Chicken Soup for the Soul” anthology of books. On March 1 at noon Laurie Parker will discuss her book, “The Matchstick Cross.”
The year of reviews will end on May 1 at noon with Picayune City Manager Jim Luke’s discussion of his book “The Good Times on Goodyear Boulevard.”