Al Queda's war on America did not start on September 11, 2001. Just ask the Diplomatic Security Service.
It was on February 6, 1993, that the United States was first attacked on its own soil by foreign terrorists. A zealous band of Middle Easterners, holy warriors determined to punish the U.S. for its supposed transgressions against Islam, packed over a ton of home made explosives into the back of a rented van. They drove their bomb across the Hudson from New Jersey, maneuvered it through downtown traffic and parked it in the underground garage at the Vista Hotel, beneath the twin towers of the World Trade Center. They lit a long fuse, which allowed them time to get back to New Jersey to watch the results of the explosion on CNN. They hoped to topple one mammoth tower into the other and kill ten thousand people or more. Miraculously, only six people were killed.
Most of the group were captured within a week, but the mastermind behind the attack, Ramzi Ahmed Yousef, had immediately gone to JFK airport to fly to Pakistan. Before leaving, he phoned the Associated Press and claimed responsibility for the bombing in the name of the Arab Liberation Army, a terrorist group led by Saudi exile Osama bin Laden.
A succession of such brazen crimes has revealed complex connections among terrorist groups with an implacable hostility toward Western civilization. Outrages such as the assassination of the Jewish Defense League founder Meier Kahane, a huge plot in the Philippines to plant bombs on intercontinental airlines and to assassinate the Pope, the bombing of U.S. embassies, culminating in the African embassy bombings of 1998, the attack on the USS Cole in 1999, and the devastating attack on the World Trade Center in 2001 have made it clear that a worldwide network of terrorists led by Osama bin Laden is making war on the United States.
On the front lines combating these terrorists in 150 countries around the world have been the 1,200 agents of the U.S. Department of State's Diplomatic Security Service. A little-known but highly effective branch of the government, the DSS is the one arm of federal law enforcement with international powers of arrest. These agents maintain close ties to local police commanders in many countries and can entice informants with bounties of up to $4,000,000. After a challenging international search, it was DSS agents in Pakistan who captured Ramzi Yousef. DSS agents have been in the vanguard of the War on Terrorism long before it was declared.
In Relentless Pursuit, Samuel Katz review the escalating series of terrorist attacks on the U.S. during the last decade, including those in many foreign countries and finally in New York and Washington. In the process, he tells the gripping story of the DSS and its agents protecting us and our representatives here and abroad. Katz's detailed, personal, on-the-ground anecdotes bring home the contexts and linkages of the War on Terrorism that has been fought on our behalf by the DSS since the 1980s. Relentless Pursuit is a stirring tribute to an unsung group of brave Americans.
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