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Inside the Jihad: My Life with Al Qaeda

3.98  ·  Rating details ·  884 Ratings  ·  94 Reviews
Inside the Jihad: My Life with Al Qaeda
Paperback, 357 pages
Published January 8th 2008 by Basic Books (first published 2006)
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Aug 27, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: no one.
If goodreads had a rating below one star "Inside the Jihad" would qualify.

There are a lot of laudatory reviews of this book and many if not most reviewers take the author's claims at face value. I think he has less credibility than James Frey or Clifford Irving.

There is no translator or co-author credited but the book is written in clear idiomatic English—which would be Nasiri’s fourth language, after Maghrebi Arabic, French and German—possibly a record, certainly better than Joseph Conrad or H
Apr 05, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: espionage
Easy to read account of Muslim from Belgium who becomes a spy for France and ultimately infiltrates the terrorist training camps in Afghanistan. Later he spies in London but becomes somewhat bored and disillusioned and eventually settles in Germany to retire and get married. Best thing about this book is that it is a non-U.S. view and discusses many of the misperceptions the West has about Islam, jihad, and events (attacks) that happened in Europe and beyond, especially in the 90's. Makes the di ...more
إسلام أنور
كتاب ترويجي للنظرة الأمريكية للجهاد .. يقولب الجهاد في قالب الإرهاب و يتعاطف مع من يخون الأمة و يسلم فرسانها لجلادي الجاهلية ..
لكن للكتاب ميزة عظيمة للمتأمل .. فهو يعرض بوضوح خبايا التعقيد النفسي الذي يؤدي للخيانة ثم يجذب صاحبها في دركات السقوط!!..
و يفتح أعين العاملين للإسلام جليا على علامات واضحة في سلوك العملاء و الخونة ينبغي الانتباه إليها ..
الكتاب نافعٌ جدًّا .. لكن لمن يقرأه بفهم مغاير لما أراده كاتبه و ناشره و مترجمه ..
كتاب يتكلم عن شاب، بلا مستقبل ولا هوية تجعله يبني حياة مستقرة. يدخل لسبب غامض في نشاط الجماعات الإسلامية في أوروبا..ولسبب غامض يدخل في نشاط استخباري قوي ضدهم.

بسبب التجنيد، يسافر إلى أفغانستان ليتلقى تدريبا هنالك، ويبقى معهم لمدة تزيد عن سنة، ليعود بتفاصيل لا غنى عنها لكل جهاز استخباري.

على الرغم من كثرة التفاصيل لعمل ومنجزات صاحب الكتاب. إلا أنه يشوبه الغموض عندما يتحدث عن مكنونات نفسه.فلم يوضح لنا لماذا قبل العمل مع أخيه في شراء الأسلحة في فرنسا، ولماذا قبل أن يساعدهم في طباعة وتوزيع نشرة الأنصا
Mar 18, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: auto-biography
Omar's evaluation in the early pages of his book is very interesting. "This is the problem of modern Islam in a nutshell. We are totally dependent on the West--for our dishwashers, our clothes, our cars, our education, everything. This is humiliating, and every Muslim feels it. ... Once we had accomplished so much--in science, mathematics, medicine, philosophy. For centuries we ran far ahead of the West. We were the most sophisticated civilization in the world. Now we are backwards. We can't eve ...more
Dec 04, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was written by an Arab man who became involved with terrorist groups in the 1990s and then became a spy. He attended terrorist training camps as a spy, but later gave up his life as a spy when his heart was no longer in it.

The book is an exciting story of his life and contacts, and the author writes well. He does a good job of expressing his feelings, emotions, and reasons for his decisions. I wish that he would have included more analysis of why he believes people become terrorists. A
May 05, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
كتاب رائع يتحدث عن جاسوس عربي قادته الظروف ليجد نفسه جاسوس للاستخبارات الفرنسية و بعدها توغل في معسكرات المجاهدين في أفغانستان وفي رأسه فكرة كيف ممكناً ان يكون التطرف مدمرا و حاملين هذا المغالاة في الدين لدرجة الابتداع وسفك دماء من يعادي أفكارهم سواء كان مسلم /كافر او طفل /عجوز ، وفي نهاية يدرك ان الارهاب لن ينتهي حتى تكف امريكا و دول اوربا العظمى عن التدخل في سياستتا .
Thomas Ptacek
A good read, but I seriously doubt the veracity.

May 14, 2017 rated it it was ok
This was difficult to get through for a number of reasons. My biggest mental hurdle was that I knew the author was a self-admitted liar, so while I knew that this had been vetted and confirmed by a number of people who understand terrorist and jihadis, I could not stop questioning everything.

My other problem was that I want to have hope that one we will be able to find common ground as humans, and without divulging too much, I found it difficult to maintain this hope. It is not naivete on my pa
Richard Ambrosio
Phenomenal book. It had me poring over it non stop, huddled over it every morning on the tube.

It's a gripping account of a Moroccan born spy who infiltrates an Algerian terrorist cell in Belgium and training camps in Afghanistan. He is then sent to London to start a terror cell and to raise money for the Jihad cause, but in reality, uses his proximity to feed valuable intel to MI5 and DGSE. It reads like a spy thriller!

Two other things stuck out in my mind. First, there was the incredibly nuanc
Michael Simborg
Jul 06, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 16, 2008 rated it liked it
I'm not sure where to begin with this one: the in depth "behind the scenes at a jihad training camp"? the ineptitude of the French (and British and German) intelligence services? the casualness of dedication to a specific jihad in favor of any jihad? All of the above?

Nasiri's tale of his life as a spy is at times riveting and at times horrifying but always readable. When describing his training, I kept thinking about how the guns, explosives and chemicals were simply toys to him - you can almos
Oct 27, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this insider's perspective on Islamic extremism. Allegedly, the author lived and worked as a spy for many years. The author was in a unique position to successfully "pose" as a mujahidin, jihadist, or terrorist (depending on your perspective) and report back to the authorities in Europe.

Best part of the book: I really liked the psychological aspect of the story. For example, the author has somewhat of an identity crisis while he's "training" in the camps to fight his jihad. He is mere
Jun 16, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was hesitant about reading this one, but with the gentle urging of my husband, I dove in and found that I didn't want to pull myself away. Not only is it a fascinating insight into the training and life of those searching to find their jihad, but it's almost unbelievable that it's a true story. At times I found the writer a little arrogant in his skills and perceptions, but I think it truly is a must read. You know it's a good book when you realize how much you do not know on every page. I did ...more
Mythu Devan
Oct 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of my favorite books I read years back!!!!! This book discloses the stupendous growth of Al-Qaeda camps over the years. The book shockingly reveals the depth of the trainings offered. Now who can provide such insightful infos. better than the spy himself! The book also provides such intricate details of Islam community that it takes me a step closer to the religion itself. I still remember clarifying some of it with my Islamic friend. Towards the end, the spy mentions he was left stranded by ...more
Aug 15, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I thought this was a good look at the spy world from an opposing side. I also thought it was a telling glimpse into a much more sophisticated network focused on learning all they can in order to be successful at bringing down their enemy. The book expresses how driven these networks of men are. They are funded, committed, and convinced of their mission, yet disenfranchised from their own countries in pursuit of their jihad. No questions this was an informative book, and chilling as Nasiri goes i ...more
Ingrid Hansen
Mar 19, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Ingrid by: A friend
This is a good view into how muslims become terrorists and you get some kind of answer to why they want to fight for Al Qaeda og for GIA og whatever organisation that tries to rouse their hate to all of us in the western world.
Omar Nasiris story is not one that is well known to us because we don't really know what goes on in the training camps but he's given us a rare insight into what they learn og how they learn it and what drives ordinary men to volunteer into becoming muhjadins that will fig
Mar 31, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I recommend this great book. It has sections that are fascinating and there are some dry sections. Overall, this is a scary tale about a man’s journey into the bowls of Al Qaeda. How he gets there in very interesting and believable. Once he is inside an Al Qaeda training compound inside Afghanistan (1990s time frame), the details and sophistication of the professional training & education described is alarming. The end is equally disturbing because his knowledge was available to intelligence ...more
Abhishek Agarwal
I guess the book gets interesting in middle part of it when the author is actually on field in Afghanistan training camps. The training is more sophisticated than I imagined. And the trainers are (as described) not a bunch of frenzied lunatics, rather courageous, well-trained, and also well versed in interpersonal skills. In short, skilled similarly as a modern armed force commander would be(added to that the trainers knew theology as well). I am not sure how veracious the account is, some point ...more
May 08, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a very enlightening account of the Muslim extremist movement. It reads like a spy novel, full of deception and intrigue.

However, because it is written by an author who must disguise himself, it is tough to know if it is all accurate. It paints an inept picture when describing the European secret service agencies of the 1990s, and describes the beginnings of Al Qaeda. Neither of these groups would be inclined to confirm the accounts.

But what I appreciated most was probably what Nasiri wa
May 18, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Incredibly enlightening first-hand account of not only how Al Qaeda is run from the bottom-up, but how information is gathered in intelligence agencies around the world today. As someone who didn't know a lot about Arab culture and the slight religious and moral views that make all the difference between the seemingly similar groups that make them up, this taught me a lot.

The stories presented seem unique and genuine, and although the author is a little unreliable at times, he's so clever that
Jan 14, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
I'm not really sure how to feel about this book. It was a page turner, and in some ways very fascinating. Before reading it, I thought the others who were calling out "fake!" in their reviews were just looking for something to say. I'm not really sure how exactly this one got on my to-read list, but the whole premise and layout is so coincidental at times, it reads more like a thriller than a biography.

After a bunch of hemming and hawing, I ultimately gave this three stars because it was an inte
Oct 09, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone
Recommended to Blake by: No one
Shelves: intelligence
This is simply a fascinating book, which also happens to be very readable. The author is anonymous and this book details his life journey from low-level criminal, to the rebirth of his Islamic identity, to attending terrorist training camps in Afghanistan while working as a French intelligence agent. While you may be inclined to discount this work as a fabrication, the introduction written by a former high-ranking CIA officer lends credibility. If you are interested in the subject of terrorism o ...more
Jennifer Lindsay
Aug 21, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
So compelling! And I had to read something with a little more substance after the four "Twilight" books. This will be like "Three Cups of Tea" for me, in the sense that I am going to learn more about the middle east from these two books than I have ever learned from our media. It sounds like we have been misled and fed lies from our politicians and media in regards to the Muslim world and their real motivations. And this reads like an adventure novel. A great character study too of this troubled ...more
May 17, 2010 rated it it was ok
This was a very interesting story, but in the end, I was left with the impression that the author, a Morrocan Arab Muslim, was a self-serving sleazebag and not to be trusted as an honest story teller. I really don't think that I'm a Islamaphobe; I went into this book very openmindedly (is that a word?). But this guy seems to change with the wind. He claims to be a Muslim at the core, but he consistantly breaks all the commandments of Mohammed and is a creature of convenience. Anyway, I was left ...more
Jun 25, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: jihad
An interesting book by a man who trained in the jihadist camps in Afghanistan but was also an agent for the French DGSE.

While an enjoyable read, everything in the book must be taken with a grain of salt. The writer tries to elevate his importance both in the jihad movement and as a spy, but ultimately he doesn't really do much for either.

Still it provides a good insight into the mind of a man torn between the West and the East. Amusingly at the end, he tells us that the jihad will come to an end
Christopher Rex
A very interesting insight into the growth of what became known as "Al Qaeda" in the 1990s. An excellent companion to "Ghost Wars". Reads quickly, which means that the reader doesn't get bogged down in a lot of formalities - this has its plusses and minuses. For what the author was attempting to acheive, it suits the purpose well, but a greater understanding of Islam and Muslim-Western relations certainly aids the enjoyment & understanding of "Inside the Jihad". Worth reading.
Nov 04, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audible
Written by a muslim who joined with terrorists, it provides a good understanding of the feelings and thoughts of the militant muslem "terrorists" who inhabit our world at present. In his own words, the author was maltreated by the European intelligence agencies for which he worked, but he did not change his fervent belief in his religion. This eye-opening book should be understood by western policy makers, for to ignore the ideas condemns the earth to perpetual conflict.
Aug 03, 2008 rated it really liked it
A gripping narrative told by a Muslim turned spy ... he worked gathering intelligence for both France and Britain by going undercover and becoming part of sleeper cells and joining an Afghanistan training camp. It is both fascinating and disturbing ... these terrorists are SO incredibly devoted to their goal of destroying Western civilization. The training camps are basically brainwashing centers and the training is so incredibly rigorous ... A very intense book !
Alex Irvine
Overall this was interesting. Personally, I found the first third or so a bit hard to get through (everything prior to him leaving for Afghanistan). Not so much the story, but there was something about his narration or insights describing his time in Europe before he went to the camps just grated on me. But, once he got off to the camps the book really took off for me. Overall, it was worth the read.
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