Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Book Review: How to Break a Terrorist

Title: How to Break a Terrorist: The U.S. Interrogators Who Used Brains, Not Brutality, to Take Down the Deadliest Man in Iraq
Author: Bruning, John
Matthew Alexander
Rating ****
Tags iraq, terrorism, interrogation, non-fiction

This is a non-fiction book that reads like a thriller. The author was an experienced criminal interrogator who went to Iraq with the military to question captured terrorists. Their goal was to capture or kill Zarqawi, the head of al-Quaeda in Iraq. Alexander was not an interrogator who relied on "enhanced interrogation techniques" (i.e., torture), as he did not believe in its efficacy. Some on his team believed that the interrogator had to show the terrorist that the "gator" was in charge. Alexander more relied on psychological techniques, on determining what might influence the particular prisoner he was questioning. He knew a lot about Islam and Arab culture, and this helped him understand the prisoners. Those interrogated had various reasons for their actions. One, who turned out to be the electrician who wired suicide bomb vests, needed money to support his second wife who was bleeding him dry. Others were simply trying to survive the sectarian conflict. It only seemed to be the top levels who were idealogues. The book gets exciting as the need increases to get Zarqawi and to get their highest value prisoner to talk. It has been decided that he isn't going to talk and they will transfer him to Abu Ghraib. Alexander goes against orders to talk to him with only hours to go before his transfer.

Excellent book, with real lessons for how the U.S. deals with terrorists.
Other authors
Bruning, John

Author – Bruning, John
Publication Free Press (2008), Hardcover, 304 pages
Publication date 2008
ISBN 1416573151 / 9781416573159

1 comment:

Matthew Alexander said...

Thank you for that kind review. I'm glad that you enjoyed my book.