Top 52 Quotes of Peter Bergen

Will there be a political backlash against British Prime Minister Theresa May, whose ruling Conservative Party is traditionally seen as ‘stronger’ on terrorism than its main rival, the Labour Party?

Peter Bergen

When news of the first plane’s hitting the World Trade Center reached them, bin Laden’s followers exploded with joy. But shrewder members of al-Qaeda and the Taliban leadership in Afghanistan realized that the attacks might not be the stunning victory that bin Laden, and many in the West, took them to be.

Peter Bergen

When it comes to the greater Middle East, McMaster brings to the table his own deep knowledge of Iraq and Afghanistan, countries where he served for many years.

Peter Bergen

When ISIS and al Qaeda have attacked or plotted attacks in the West in the past decade or so, they have invariably used hydrogen peroxide-based bombs because acquiring military-grade explosives or dynamite is nearly impossible for would-be terrorists in Western countries.

Peter Bergen

Typically, terrorist attacks produce a rally-around-the flag effect as was the case after 9/11 and the huge outpouring of public support that then-President George W. Bush garnered.

Peter Bergen

There are all sorts of despicable people who journalists have done interviews with, and it’s been useful. Isn’t more information better than less information?

Peter Bergen

The Trump administration launched the cruise missile strikes in Syria, an act of war, without a U.N. resolution or Congressional authorization.

Peter Bergen

The thing that’s very puzzling to somebody who’s been in Pakistan repeatedly since 1983 is lots of people live in compounds with high walls in Pakistan. I mean, that’s so completely routine. In fact, you know, it would be un-routine to have the reverse.

Peter Bergen

The sitting prime minister, Jose Aznar, who had strongly backed the U.S.-led Iraq War, was unseated by a challenger who then pulled Spanish troops out of Iraq. The Madrid terrorist attacks are generally regarded as being the key to why Aznar, who had been leading in the polls, was defeated.

Peter Bergen

The senior director at the NSC for the Middle East is retired Col. Derek Harvey, an Arabic-speaking intelligence officer with a Ph.D. who served as the head of the U.S. military cell examining the insurgency in Iraq in 2003.

Peter Bergen

The reason that attacks by American terrorists who are not jihadist militants are sometimes not called ‘terrorism’ is, in part, because in the United States, terrorism is a crime which has to be in some way be associated with a ‘designated’ terrorist group such as ISIS.

Peter Bergen

The money that bin Laden inherited was about 20 million dollars over the course of many years, not the much larger sums some have suggested. In 1994, his family cut him off.

Peter Bergen

The hard reality is that attacks by vehicles in public places are very hard to defend against in a free and open society. The best defense against such attacks is good intelligence, and that often comes from inside the Muslim community.

Peter Bergen

The Green Berets of U.S. Special Forces 5th Group – known as ‘the Legion’ – who led the anti-Taliban campaign represent a textbook case of a successful Special Forces campaign.

Peter Bergen

The documentary feature film ‘Legion of Brothers’ tells the stories of the handful of U.S. Special Forces soldiers who, shortly after the 9/11 attacks, went into Taliban-controlled Afghanistan and, within a matter of weeks, overthrew the Taliban regime.

Peter Bergen

The commonly accepted definition of terrorism is that it is politically motivated violence directed at civilians by entities other than a state. These kind of attacks can come from the far right, the far left, racists of every stripe, as well as jihadists.

Peter Bergen

The 9/11 attack itself played out around the world, with planning meetings in Malaysia, operatives taking flight lessons in the United States, coordination by plot leaders based in Hamburg, and money transfers from Dubai – activities overseen by al-Qaeda’s senior command from secure bases in Afghanistan.

Peter Bergen

Security services, from Afghanistan to the United States, should be alert throughout the Ramadan period, but especially on the 27th day of the holy month.

Peter Bergen

Sanctions on Pakistan have been part of the troubled U.S.-Pakistan relationship in the past and should not be considered as an option in the future.

Peter Bergen

One of the themes of ‘The Longest War,’ my book, which came out before the Arab spring happened, was how al-Qaida and bin Laden was losing the war of ideas in the Muslim world, not because the United States was winning them, but because al-Qaida was simply losing them.

Peter Bergen

On the campaign trail, candidate Trump occasionally raised the idea of creating ‘safe zones’ for Syrian civilians.

Peter Bergen

Officials in the George W. Bush administration later criticized the cruise missile strikes that were ordered by President Bill Clinton in Afghanistan in 1998 as only ‘pounding sand.’

Peter Bergen

More than a decade and half after 9/11, U.S. military actions in countries such as Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan and several other Muslim nations are governed by the Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) that was passed in the days immediately after 9/11.

Peter Bergen

Mateen pledged allegiance to ISIS during his attack, the worst terror attack on American soil since 9/11.

Peter Bergen

It’s much harder to detect a lone wolf than it is somebody who’s associated with a larger organization who’s having planning meetings and making phone calls to people in the organization. And so that is really how the jihad has really developed in the United States.

Peter Bergen

It is in American and Afghan interests for the U.S. to stay in Afghanistan so it doesn’t turn into Iraq circa 2014, with the Taliban controlling much of the country while hosting a strong presence of ISIS and al-Qaeda as well as every other jihadist group of note.

Peter Bergen

It is hard to imagine two more final endings to the ‘war on terror’ than the popular revolts against the authoritarian regimes in the Middle East and the death of bin Laden.

Peter Bergen

Incompetence is a better explanation than conspiracy in most human activity.

Peter Bergen

In the public’s mind, Special Forces are often confused with the ‘door kickers’ of Special Operations Forces – such as SEAL Team 6 and Delta Force – who are the United States’ elite counterterrorism operators.

Peter Bergen

In one notorious episode in 2002, in the holy city of Mecca, the religious police prevented girls from fleeing a school that was on fire because they were not properly dressed.

Peter Bergen

In mid-November 2001, as they moved toward the city of Kandahar, the Taliban’s de facto capital in southern Afghanistan, Amerine’s team called in airstrikes against advancing Taliban units and more or less obliterated a Taliban column of a thousand men that had been dispatched from Kandahar. It was the Taliban’s final play to remain in power.

Peter Bergen

In late May 2016, an ISIS spokesman called for attacks in the West during the month of Ramadan.

Peter Bergen

In 1999, NATO did impose a no-fly zone in Kosovo without seeking a U.N. resolution to carry out air strikes on Serbian forces.

Peter Bergen

If the Arab Spring was a large nail in the coffin of al-Qaeda’s ideology, the death of bin Laden was an equally large nail in the coffin of al-Qaeda the organization.

Peter Bergen

If a parent knows that their kid is suddenly becoming infatuated with ISIS, they face a very difficult choice, which is, you know, do I – what do I do?

Peter Bergen

Hydrogen peroxide-based bombs were used in the London bombings in 2005; in al Qaeda’s foiled plot to attack subways in New York City in 2009 and also in the ISIS-directed Paris attacks in 2015 and the ISIS-directed attacks in Brussels a year later.

Peter Bergen

Candidate Trump had previously opined that ‘Islam hates us’ and had called for ‘the total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States,’ an argument he has since modified and moderated.

Peter Bergen

Both China and Russia felt duped by the U.N. ‘no-fly’ zone resolution regarding Libya in 2011 that eventually led to the ouster of Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi. China and Russia had abstained from the Libyan resolution, and neither country plans to make what they regard as a similar mistake again.

Peter Bergen

Bin Laden’s role in the war against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in the 1980s had made him a hero around the Middle East.

Peter Bergen

Bin Laden was intelligent, well-informed, and low key. The people around him treated him with great deference, calling him ‘sheikh,’ a term of respect.

Peter Bergen

Bin Laden studied economics and public administration before he turned to a life of jihad.

Peter Bergen

Because of the 9/11 attacks, the framing of terrorism by politicians, the media, and the public too often in the past decade and a half has been that it is Islamist political violence that is the terrorism we need to be concerned about.

Peter Bergen

Because 9/11 was carried out by 19 foreign-born Arab hijackers, many assume that all terrorists who attack the West are foreigners.

Peter Bergen

Bannon should never have had a permanent seat on the NSC, as he is a political operative, and the NSC has traditionally been a place where American interests are considered rather than narrow Republican or Democratic interests.

Peter Bergen

Assad owes his continuation in power to the intervention of Russia in 2015 to prop up his regime.

Peter Bergen

An intelligence officer and historian, Rayburn published a 2014 book, ‘Iraq After America,’ which is a must-read for anyone who wants to understand how Iraq descended into chaos in the years after the American troop withdrawal at the end of 2011.

Peter Bergen

Again and again since 9/11, terror attacks in the West have been carried out by second-generation Muslims who are citizens of the very country they are attacking.

Peter Bergen

Abu Musab al-Suri is someone I got to know pretty well because he’s a Syrian. Very bright guy, lived in London. He actually was the person who took myself and correspondent Peter Arnett and the cameraman, Peter Juvenal, to interview bin Laden for his first TV interview.

Peter Bergen

Abedi appears to be one of the many thousands of Western Muslims who have embraced militant Islam, often as a way of trying to resolve the tension between their split identities.

Peter Bergen

A little exposure to a city like Sulaimani will help Trump understand that the Middle East is a much more complex place than he seems to believe. Perhaps Trump could even give a speech at the American University in Sulaimani, just as President Obama did at Cairo University early in his first term.

Peter Bergen

A decade and a half ago, the U.S. Air Force dropped massive 15,000-pound ‘Daisy Cutter’ bombs on the Tora Bora complex where Osama bin Laden was hiding in December 2001.

Peter Bergen

9/11 was a sort of hinge event in American history, and all jihadi terrorist plots or attacks are kind of filtered through that lens.

Peter Bergen