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Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and Bin Laden,… Study Guide & Plot Summary

Steve Coll
This Study Guide consists of approximately 35 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of Ghost Wars.
This section contains 545 words
(approx. 2 pages at 300 words per page)
Purchase our Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and Bin Laden, Study Guide

Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and Bin Laden, Summary & Study Guide Description

Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and Bin Laden, Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Topics for Discussion and a Free Quiz on Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and Bin Laden, by Steve Coll.

Plot Summary

Ghost Wars, by Steve Coll, is one of the best historical narratives of the problems in Afghanistan and the rise of al-Qaeda and bin Laden. The book explains how the war against the Soviets began and how the CIA became involved during the Cold War years. The big concern of the United States at the time was oil since Central Asia is rich in oil. The Soviet move into Afghanistan was viewed as the first step toward the Middle East oil countries and this is one of the reasons they wanted to contain the Soviets.

The war began when factions in Afghanistan revolted against the Soviet authority. The CIA supplied the rebels with money and weapons, like Stinger missiles. They also funded training camps to train the people who came to help fight the Soviets. One of these was the billionaire Sheikh Osama bin Laden. Bin Laden at the time had close relations with Saudi Arabian intelligence and various Arab charities and provided money for the rebels and for humanitarian aid for the population.

When the Taliban was formed as a small militia group which opposed all of the corruption, it quickly grew. Mullah Omar and his people eventually received the support of the Saudis and Pakistanis. When the Russians withdrew, they left Afghanistan in the midst of a civil war. Massoud and his Northern Alliance were eventually forced into the northern part of the country. The United States declared neutrality and refused to overtly support any faction.

Bin Laden also left Afghanistan, but the al-Qaeda had already been formed and he was viewed as a rising leader in the world of radical Islam. As a result of this anti-royal stance and criticism of the Saudi royal family during the Gulf War, he was expelled from Saudi Arabia and went to Khartoum, Sudan. After several years he was asked to leave and moved to Afghanistan where the Taliban was now in control.

The training bases that had been used to train fighters against the Soviets were now being used to train Arab jihadist terrorists. In addition there were hundreds of Stinger missiles in the country that the various factions had that could be used to shoot down passenger airplanes. The CIA was quietly trying to buy them, which gave them a reason for covert activities in Afghanistan.

As bin Laden, al-Zawahiri and al-Qaeda grew stronger, and more and more terrorist acts were traced to them, the United States tried to have them captured. This was a new generation of terrorists that they were trying to cope with. The new kind of terrorist was different from the groups of the past. They were recruited in the madrasses and trained in Afghanistan as was the Hamburg cell and those involved with the September 2001 attacks on New York and Washington.

Steve Coll does an exceptional job of telling the story that began with the tribal revolts in Afghanistan and culminated in the attacks on American soil. His book is the result of intensive research and many hours of interviews with various involved people. He reveals to the reader the inner workings of the CIA and how their hands were pretty much tied at this time. Ghost Wars is a very readable book and well worth the time spent reading it.

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This section contains 545 words
(approx. 2 pages at 300 words per page)
Purchase our Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and Bin Laden, Study Guide
Copyrights
Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and Bin Laden,… from BookRags and Gale's For Students Series. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.
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