SEEDS OF TERROR: An Eyewitness Account of Al-Qaeda's Newest Center of Operations in Southeast Asia

Maria Ressa, Author . Free Press $26 (272p) ISBN 978-0-7432-5133-4

Ressa, CNN's Jakarta bureau chief since 1995, offers a firsthand account of the recent terrorist attacks throughout Southeast Asia, as well as an overview of how local Muslims were groomed to be terrorists by al-Qaida and other extremist groups. Her position as one of the most prominent reporters in the region offers her access to documents and people not afforded to the average journalist. She is especially good at explaining the shadowy links among the various organizations and demonstrates how al-Qaida operates in Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia and Singapore as a loose network of groups—some rural and poor, others urban and wealthy—each with its own agenda, but all linked by the principle "if one Muslim hurts, we all hurt." The main group is Jemaah Islamiyah, headed by Abu Bakar Ba'asyir, whom Ressa dubs "the Asian Osama bin Laden." She thoroughly documents al-Qaida's failed plan A, to attack U.S. soldiers in Singapore, and successful plan B, the bombing of the Kuta nightclub on Bali. What emerges is a picture of a volatile region where terrorists work with impunity, assured that unstable governments are unable to intervene. Ressa also indicts the U.S. and its allies for exacerbating the region's problems through ignorance, insensitivity and an unwillingness to cooperate. The picture should serve as a warning to our government to pay close attention to a part of the world that only seems remote and is serving as the second most important hotbed of Islamic terrorism outside the Middle East. Ressa's book makes for one of the best primers on the issues and people involved. Agent, Rafe Sagalyn. (Dec. 2)

Reviewed on: 10/27/2003
Release date: 12/01/2003
Paperback - 272 pages - 978-1-4516-3634-5
Ebook - 272 pages - 978-0-7432-6697-0
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