Ali Soufan
Related Speakers

  • Ellen Gustafson
  • Heather Hurlburt
  • Shaifali Puri
  • James K. Glassman



  • "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, author of The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11

  • "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."
    -The Economist

  • "Superb. An education. And the best book on al Qaeda out there, bar none."
    -Robert Baer, former CIA official and author of See No Evil, Sleeping with the Devil, and The Devil We Know

Ali Soufan

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 gained many of the most important confessions in the war on terror—without laying so much as a hand on a terrorist. These interrogations have never been reported in their entirety, or in context, and never by anyone with firsthand knowledge.

Ali's groundbreaking book, The Black Banners, is a revelatory account of America's successes and failures against al-Qaeda, and is essential to an understanding of the terrorist group. The ingenious structure of the book allows the author, in his own words, "to take the reader with me as I learned things." We see what happens in hideouts and interrogation rooms. We have a ringside seat at Osama bin Laden's personal celebration of the 9/11 attacks. Most important, we watch Ali at work, using guile and knowledge to gain crucial evidence without ever resorting to morally compromising enhanced interrogation techniques. These riveting operational details show us not only how terrorists think and act but also how they can be beaten and brought to justice.

The book concludes with the death of bin Laden at the hands of U.S. Navy SEALs, an incident that underscores a crucial aspect of the narrative. U.S. intelligence agencies found bin Laden by tracking a courier whose importance was established through the use of traditional investigative techniques, the sort that Soufan employs so brilliantly. By contrast, even after being water-boarded 183 times, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the 9/11 mastermind, was still lying about the true identity of the courier.

Ali, 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 is a frequent op-ed contributor to the New York Times, has been profiled in the New Yorker, and has been featured in books, newspaper articles, and documentaries across the globe.

Nataly Kogan of visits with Dr. OZ
Environmentalist and filmmaker Rob Stewart launches Save the Humans...
Dan Pallotta's TED Talk is one of the 100 most-viewed of all-time
Blake Mycoskie named one of USA Today's "Top 5 communicators in the world"
Movember Founder Adam Garone launches Podcast with Lance Armstrong's first interview since Oprah