On January 26, 1993, a young Palestinian man named Abdel Nasser Zaben was arrested and incarcerated in New York City for kidnapping and robbery. Just thirty days later, while he remained locked up, radical Islamic fundamentalists detonated a bomb in the World Trade Center. These two events, connected by common threads, signaled the coming of jihad to America. From the seemingly insulated environment of prison, this same young man, thought to have been merely a common criminal, swore allegiance to Osama bin Laden and began to convert other young minds to the cause. A dangerous terrorist recruitment “cell” had been born. How did it happen?
Through the story of Abdel Nasser Zaben’s recruitment efforts in prison,The Fertile Soil of Jihad explores in vivid detail how the American prison subculture fosters terrorism. Dunleavy shows how Zaben carefully and knowingly selected the most likely candidates for conversion to his cause. He reveals how Zaben used his apprentice role in the prison chaplain’s office as a cover for his work and how prison resources were used in the service of terrorism. This book yields invaluable insights for intelligence and corrections professionals as well as informed citizens eager to learn what progress the U.S. government is making in countering terrorism.
“Patrick Dunleavy’s important new book offers glimpses of the determined efforts, difficulties, failures, frustrations, and feuds that characterize efforts to combat prison recruitment. The Fertile Soil of Jihad is a major contribution to our overall understanding of radicalization and terrorist recruitment.”—Brian Michael Jenkins, senior adviser to the president, RAND Corporation
“The Fertile Soil of Jihad is outstanding. Patrick Dunleavy takes the reader deep inside prison into the terrorists’ minds and shows what can happen when inmates and radical Islam come together. His book is a tribute to the men and women in corrections, as well as their local, state, and federal law enforcement and intelligence colleagues, who work tirelessly to protect our country in a post-9/11 world.”—Frank Straub, director of public safety, City of Indianapolis
“An insider’s look at the shadowy and complex world of radicalism inside prison walls and how it extends from the cellblock to the outside world. Patrick Dunleavy has turned an investigator’s eye on a network that stretches from New York to Palestine, Yemen, Afghanistan, and beyond.”—J. M. Berger, editor of Intelwire.com and author of Jihad Joe: Americans Who Go to War in the Name of Islam
“Patrick Dunleavy’s true tale of intrigue, betrayal, deception, violence, and unparalleled detective work reads like a Robert Ludlum novel. It is also a tale for our times, one that every American should read, illustrating the ways in which radical jihadism can easily—and secretly—metastasize within our own penal institutions into vast terrorist cells that threaten our very existence. This is one of those books that will enthrall you, enrage you, and engage you from the moment you pick it up.”—Steven Emerson, executive director of the Investigative Project on Terrorism and author of American Jihad: The Terrorists Living Among Us
"The Fertile Soil of Jihad reads like a mystery thriller..."—Gary R. Hobbin, Review, Military Review, December 2012