Will Byrnes's Reviews > Seeds of Terror: An Eyewitness Account of Al-Qaeda's Newest Center of Operations in Southeast Asia

Seeds of Terror by Maria A. Ressa
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Oct 26, 2008

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bookshelves: non-fiction, terrorism

Ressa was a Jakarta Bureau Chief for CNN. A Philippine native she made Southeast Asia her beat, with particular emphasis on Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines. While this may not be the best-written book on the subject of the spread of Al-Qaeda, it does a lot to fill in the gaps of information re terrorism in those parts of the world. There is a surfeit of data on the names of the participants, to the degree that one despairs of ever keeping them straight. Of great interest is her tale of Al-Quaeda in the Philippines. It informs ones view of national politics in light of the recent kidnapping of a Filipino in Iraq, and the government’s willingness to abort their Iraq mission in return for the captive. There is much going on there, and because the government has proven too corrupt or too politically unwilling to really deal with the problem they have in effect sanctioned it. There will be problems aplenty in that nation for decades in the absence of a change in approach. Also of great interest was the point that cells are allowed to operate freely by countries that are not targeted. For example, Malaysia tolerated terrorist activity as long as it was directed at Indonesia and not at itself. It is also clear that because of the unwillingness of intelligence services to share information, many terrorist acts were carried out that might have been prevented. Internal corruption is also a very large factor in allowing even jailed terrorists to get away. There is also an intriguing section on how one of the Philippine groups went from being islamically motivated to being pretty simply a criminal enterprise, engaged in kidnapping as a regular source of revenue.
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