MY JIHAD: An American Mujahid's Amazing Experiences in the World of Jihad, Bin Laden's Training Camps, and the Central Intelligence Agency

Aukai Collins, Author . Lyons Press $22.95 (280p) ISBN 978-1-58574-565-4

Collins, a former mujahid and Phoenix-based FBI informant, has recently been in the news for allegedly having warned the FBI—to no avail—about one of the September 11 hijackers. Here he focuses mostly on his experiences fighting along with an associate of Bin Laden's in Chechnya, as well as his bitter misadventures with the FBI. (Subtitle notwithstanding, he worked primarily for the FBI but did some joint missions with the CIA.) Collins, 28, converted to Islam while serving time as a teenager in a California prison for attempted robbery. After his release, he decided to make jihad in Bosnia in the early 1990s, and thus began an odyssey with the mujahideen that took him to training camps in Kashmir and Afghanistan and to the front lines in Chechnya. He became disillusioned, however, when some extremist factions began terrorizing civilians, and decided he could best preserve the sanctity of jihad by helping Americans rout the true terrorists. But his FBI gig wasn't much more fulfilling; Collins scathingly critiques what he casts as the Bureau's willful ignorance (they didn't understand, for instance, that mosques were the wrong places to look for extremists), their self-defeating rules (he was not allowed to go undercover to a camp actually run by Bin Laden himself) and their general bureaucratic bumbling. The book doesn't offer much historical or political background, but Collins is a vivid raconteur and his accounts of illegal border-crossings in lawless Afghanistan and Dagestan are as gripping as the descriptions of actual battles. His firsthand view of the FBI, though clearly one-sided, should interest readers as well. (June)

Reviewed on: 06/10/2002
Release date: 06/01/2002
Genre: Nonfiction
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