Download The Black Banners: The Inside Story of 9/11 and the War against al-Qaeda Audiobook

The Black Banners: The Inside Story of 9/11 and the War against al-Qaeda Audiobook, by Ali H. Soufan Extended Sample Click for printable size audiobook cover
Author: Ali H. Soufan Narrator: Neil Shah Publisher: Blackstone Publishing Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: November 2011 ISBN: 9781483076829
4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 4.00 (538 ratings) (rate this audio book)
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A book that will change the way we think about al-Qaeda, intelligence, and the events that forever changed America

On September 12, 2001, FBI Special Agent Ali H. Soufan was handed a secret file. Had he received it months earlier—when it was requested—the attacks on New York and Washington could have been prevented. During his time on the front lines, Soufan helped thwart plots around the world and elicited some of the most important confessions from terrorists in the war against al-Qaeda—without laying so much as a hand on them. Most of these stories have never been reported before and never by anyone with such intimate firsthand knowledge. 

This narrative account of America’s successes and failures against al-Qaeda is essential to an understanding of the terrorist group. We are taken into hideouts and interrogation rooms. We have a ringside seat at bin Laden’s personal celebration of the 9/11 bombings. Such riveting details show us not only how terrorists think and operate but also how they can be beaten and brought to justice.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Superb. An education. And the best book on al-Qaeda out there, bar none.”

    Robert Baer, former CIA official and New York Times bestselling author

  • “Unfortunately, we only have one Ali Soufan. Had American intelligence listened to him, 9/11 might never have happened. No one did more to unravel the story of al-Qaeda than Ali Soufan. Thankfully, he’s left another legacy in this book. Anyone who wants to know what really happened should read it. It’s an inspiring but wrenching story told from the heart of a great American.”

    Lawrence Wright, New York Times bestselling author

  • “Although many have claimed to tell the inside story of the hunt for al-Qaeda, Ali Soufan has a better claim than most…This is one of the most valuable and detailed accounts of its subject to appear in the past decade.”


  • “This is an absorbing account of America’s fight back after 9/11, full of revealing or amusing details…So ultimately this book is cheering as well as fascinating because it reveals the dedication of those who defend us, as well as the weird frailties of those who try to kill us.”

    Sunday Times (London)

  • “The revelations uncovered are worth it; this is a story that had to be told.”


  • “The author recounts a long career on the trail of al-Qaeda and other Islamic terrorist groups, a quest that sometimes seems to have begun before those groups were even up and running. There is not a whisper of self-promotion in his narrative, but it is clear that Soufan was on the case early and often.”

    Kirkus Reviews

  • “Soufan describes many instances in which he uses his knowledge and a savvy rapport to exploit the personal foibles and intellectual weaknesses of his subjects…The story of America’s most famous Arab American FBI agent couldn’t come at a more poignant time.”

    Mother Jones

  • A New York Times bestseller

Listener Reviews

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  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Neal | 2/14/2014

    " Advocates of EIT, Enhanced Interrogation Techniques, need to read this book to see how Cheney and the CIA got it wrong. Intelligent interrogators like Soufan can get more useful information in one day than waterboarding will produce in months. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Holland | 2/8/2014

    " I thought this was a great book. Very informative and very interesting. The book is filled with very good information about the FBI's work in the war against terror. If all of our FBI, CIA, etc., agents are as sharp and dedicated as Soufan, our country is in good hands. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Shannon | 1/20/2014

    " We all know of the 9/11 attacks, however Ali Soufan the author himself knows more about the events leading up to that catastrophic event, what happened that day and the aftermath than the majority of the people in the world. The Black Banners: The Inside Story of 9/11 and the War Against Al-Queda by Ali Soufan is a riveting true account of his interactions involving just what the title speaks of. Enlightening the public on such a private matter to the Country's government and high superiors, sections of print are blocked out to keep the public from knowing that information. This along with the fact that his story gives an inside view on the way our government worked in that time and the large issues that arose when so much was at stake makes this book even more enticing. Throughout the story Ali recounts his and his colleagues struggles as they put in blood and sweat to work against the terrorist groups that wanted to bring down America, Al-Queda and the Taliban and the infamous man himself, Osama Bin Laden. The truth hidden from the public eye on such devastating, shady and corrupt events are laid out in the pages of this book, take a look. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Sarah | 12/29/2013

    " One of the best books about Al-Qaeda and the FBI's investigation of them post-9/11 and onward that I've ever read. Ali H. Soufan's story is an essential one for anyone who wants to understand how we could have prevented such a tragedy in 2001; it is also a startling portrait of multi-level incompetence in the U.S. intelligence agency. You'll also read about John O'Neill, Soufan's mentor and best friend, who saw Al-Qaeda's attack on U.S. coming but whose warnings were dutifully ignored by his superiors and who was unfortunately one of the many American victims of 9/11 in the Twin Towers. I can only hope that the redactions in the text will be overturned by the courts as Soufan fights the censorship of his book by the U.S. government; this information is so essential to the public. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 James | 12/25/2013

    " Very informative and very aggravating at the same time. Everyone who is interested in the battle against terrorism should read this book and be aware of the many failings, particularly by the CIA. It will also have a major impact on how you view the use of torture to get intelligence information. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Vanessa | 12/21/2013

    " A FBI agent who investigated the USS Cole bombing and al-Qaeda pre and post 9/11 publishes his notes on interrogating terrorists. There are some interesting politics, but mostly just information on interrogation and how the US figured out who carried out attacks and how. A friend recommended this book to me because she thought it was very interesting, but I found it pretty dry. I'll have to follow-up with her about which parts she thought were interesting. Soufan uses his stories of interrogation to argue against torturing and water boarding prisoners. A lot of the info in the book was also in multiple news articles, like the use of cells, interogation and terrorist funding. If you found those articles interesting you would probably like this book. The author does mention that the CIA redacted parts of his book that were public info which was intriguing. Soufan also accuses the CIA of lying about info on terrorists which could have led arrests of two hijackers prior to 9/11. Basically politicians and government agencies lie to the public and either other. Big surprise. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Joe | 12/1/2013

    " In delivering this detailed operational history of Al-Qaeda, the author gives much insight into the workings of the terrorist network. Soufan has the unique perspective as a Lebanese-American FBI agent. Major investigations he describes are the east Africa embassy bombings, USS Cole bombing, and of course the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11. He explains proper FBI interrogation and contrasts that to the CIA led psychological torture sessions that were implemented by former Attorney General Ashcroft post 9/11. We also get an insider's account of how the CIA failed to share intelligence with the FBI. This is a must read for anyone interested in 9/11 and Mid-East geopolitics. There are many sections of text that have been redacted because the CIA still has some information classified. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Lillian | 11/25/2013

    " This book explained one aspect of what went wrong with intelligence and torture leading up to 9/11 and through the Iraq debacle. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jim | 11/14/2013

    " Great book about an FBI agent of arab descent who used non-aggressive interview techniques. Using these methods he came up with more information on 9/11 and Al Queda than any other interrogator. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Brian | 11/4/2013

    " "The Looming Tower" remains the definitive source on events leading up to 9/11 and Soufan mostly repeats these facts. However, I greatly enjoyed the anecdotes about his unusual rise in the FBI. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jason | 10/14/2013

    " Wow. This book completely changed my views on EITs and for that matter the Bush administration. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Juan | 8/30/2013

    " Great source for the age we live in. I listened to the audio, but it may have been the reader of this, but I liked the info part if it, but I found the personal side of it a bit jarring, I didn't care as much for the author interjecting so much of himself, but again it is just me. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 John | 8/3/2013

    " Written by former FBI Agent Ali H. Soufan. One of the best books on the inside story of 9/11. Check out his 60 minutes interview, very powerful. What our government missed by the CIA not sharing info with the FBI. A real crime and tragedy. Getting through the Middle Eastern names is a challenge. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Julia | 5/7/2013

    " A thorough and well-researched exploration of Al Qaeda. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Mel | 10/20/2012

    " I have been fascinated by Ali Soufan since I first read about him in the report of the 9/11 Commission. In this book, extensively redacted by the CIA, he helps us understand some of the intelligence community's blunders. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Thomas | 9/12/2012

    " Eye-opening. I never imagined that scenarios from 24 had any validity! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Tom | 8/18/2012

    " The redactions were unfortunate. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jim | 2/25/2012

    " Great read, the story moves quickly and is very enlightening. Soufan is a quality citizen and we need more like him. "

About the Author

Ali H. Soufan, a former FBI special agent, served on the front lines against al-Qaeda and gained an international reputation as a top counterterrorism operative and interrogator. He has been profiled in the New Yorker and featured in books, newspaper articles, and documentaries around the globe.

About the Narrator

Neil Shah is an Audie-nominated narrator and winner of multiple AudioFile Earphones Awards who has recorded over 150 audiobooks. AudioFile magazine has commended him for “an absolutely mesmerizing listening experience” and as “an outstanding narrator who adds a healthy dose of personality to each of the characters.” As a classically trained actor with an MFA from the Old Globe/University of San Diego, he has appeared off Broadway and on regional stages, as well as in film and television. He records from his home studio in Portland, Oregon.