An investigative account of the decade between 9/11 and 2011 when Osama bin Laden evaded capture, told through the eyes of those who witnessed it: bin Laden's four wives and many children, his deputies and military strategists, his spiritual advisor, the CIA, Pakistan's ISI, and many others who have never before told their stories.
...a breathtaking tale ... the authors’ indefatigable work provides incomparable detail ... With each page the reader is more astonished that this band of angry, alienated but, in the end, foggy-eyed and feckless men pulled off a complex, deadly operation that shook the United States to its core ... The bulk of The Exile, however, is not Sept. 11. Instead it is about what came after, the story of bin Laden and al Qaeda on the run or, in many cases, just sitting. The book is fast-paced, and the reader is helped along with an especially useful 'cast list’ to help keep the immense number of characters straight, and in perspective.
The main question that arose after the Abbottabad raid concerned the two most powerful men in Pakistan, general Ashfaq Kayani, the chief of army staff, and general Ahmad Shuja Pasha, the director-general of the main intelligence agency, the ISI. Had they known Bin Laden had been hiding in Pakistan? A lot hung on the answer … Relying on published documents and, more important, interviews with al-Qaida associates and Bin Laden family members, Scott-Clark and Levy try to answer the question of how much Pakistan knew … One of Scott-Clark and Levy’s best new sources is a Mauritanian cleric called Mahfouz Ibn al-Waleed. For more than a decade before 9/11, Mahfouz chaired al-Qaida’s sharia committee, pronouncing on the religious validity of the organisation’s policies and actions. He was one of the few people with advance knowledge of the 9/11 attacks … They have produced the best account yet of what happened to al-Qaida after 9/11: it is an astonishingly good piece of work.
...a truly impressive feat of journalism, both the closest we're ever likely to come to a day-by-day account of Bin Laden's life in those years and also an intensely gripping reading experience ... behind the headlines, the story told in The Exile is a gritty, sordid one, focused on the mostly pathetic details of the fugitive life, unfolding in dusty borrowed rooms in half a dozen bolt-hole locations.