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Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11: Conversation with Lawrence Wright, Staff Writer, The New Yorker; November 13, 2006, by Harry Kreisler

This interview is part of the Institute's "Conversations with History" series, and uses Internet technology to share with the public Berkeley's distinction as a global forum for ideas.

Welcome to a Conversation with History. I'm Harry Kreisler of the Institute of International Studies. Our distinguished guest today is Lawrence Wright who is a staff writer for New Yorker magazine and whose new book is The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11.

  1. Background ... influence of parents ... early journalism career: Cairo ... writing nonfiction ... the role of belief in peoples' lives ... love of Islamic world
  2. Movie: "The Siege" ... movie idea about CIA vs FBI rivalry ... a prescient story ... turfism, terror, and the loss of civil liberties
  3. Book: The Looming Tower ... seeking understanding ... John O'Neill ... al Zawahiri ... Sayyid Qutb
  4. Origins of al Qaeda ... foreign policy blunders ... mujahadeen ... staying on in Saudi Arabia after first Iraq war ... Zawahiri as innovator of Islamic thought ... drawing the U.S. in
  5. Important Individuals ... individuals as pivotal in history ... O'Neill as Cassandra figure ... American hero Ali Sufan ... inter-agency bickering
  6. Conclusions ... leadership vacuum ... educational role of journalists and movie-makers ... advice for students ... testing-ground for this generation
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