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Take Down: Inside the Hunt for Al Qaeda

University of Pennsylvania Press;; 216 pages; $28.95

Author Philip Mudd had a distinguished career as a government intelligence analyst, serving with the FBI and the CIA, and now in the public sector. Take Down is a memoir of his fascinating career, with an emphasis on al Qaeda.

Primarily the book focuses on events after 9-11 including the development of the CIA’s Threat Matrix, which brings current threats into an understandable form for analysis. It also discusses the formation of the Terrorist Threat Integration Center and the National Counterterrorism Center. Additionally, it details the function of the national security branch of the FBI.

The author explains cluster threats (a term coined by the New York City Police Department), which are simply groups of domestic individuals, typically young men, who are angry and thinking of doing something. They have no weapons or resources but separate themselves from their community. Obviously they have to be watched to determine their real threat potential. Terrorist cells on the other hand are organized, supported, and are a real threat, with the 9-11 attacks as a prime example.

Mudd emphasizes the continual cooperation of all levels of government in the gathering, dissemination and analysis of intelligence information. He has written an excellent and enjoyable book and provides fascinating insights on the operations of the FBI, CIA, and others in protecting us from terrorism. The book is highly recommended.

Reviewer: Adrian A. Barnie, CPP, CFE (Certified Fraud Examiner), CAMS (Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialist), is a contract senior investigator assigned to the United States Attorney’s Office in Cleveland, Ohio. He is a member of ASIS.