The True History Behind The Looming Tower: How the Story Began

Osama bin Laden sits with his adviser and purported successor Ayman al-Zawahiri during an interview in Afghanistan, Barack Obama

Osama Bin Laden in 2001

From Time by Lawerence Wright

The new Hulu series The Looming Tower, premiering on Wednesday, is based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning book of the same name, by Lawrence Wright — a book that TIME selected as one of the All-TIME 100 best nonfiction books, for its “thoroughly researched and incisively written” account of the rise of al-Qaeda and the lead-up to 9/11. In the following excerpt from the introduction to the 2006 book, see how the story began.

On Saint Patrick’s Day, Daniel Coleman, an agent in the New York office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation handling foreign intelligence cases, drove down to Tysons Corner, Virginia, to report for a new posting. The sidewalks were still buried under gray banks of snow from the blizzard of 1996 a few weeks before. Coleman entered an undistinguished government office tower called the Gloucester Building and got off the elevator at the fifth floor. This was Alec Station.

Other stations of the Central Intelligence Agency are located in the various countries that they cover; Alec was the first “virtual” station, situated only a few miles from the headquarters building in Langley. On an organizational chart it was labeled “Terrorist Financial Links,” a subsection of the CIA’s Counterterrorist Center, but in practice it was devoted to tracking the activities of a single man, Osama bin Laden, whose name had arisen as the master financier of terror.

Read more at Time Magazine


Categories: Middle Eastern History, United States History

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