Malou Innocent on Al Qaeda and the Taliban


In the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, George Tenet, then head of the CIA, told national security advisers in the White House bunker that the Taliban and Al Qaeda were really the same. In An Enemy We Created, Kandahar-based field researchers Alex Strick van Linschoten and Felix Kuehn turn that story on its head. Drawing on six years of experience living in southern Afghanistan, as well as hundreds of interviews with senior Taliban officials, field commanders, and former militants, the authors find good reasons to doubt that the Taliban and Al Qaeda were once fused as a single entity. They do find, reviewer Malou Innocent notes, that after years of coalition night raids, aerial bombings, and billions in American aid to a predatory regime in Kabul, Al Qaeda ideology is influencing a new generation of Taliban-affiliated insurgents.