Terrorist expert to speak in Tuscaloosa

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 10, 2002

CNN analyst Peter Bergen, one of the few Western journalists to have extensively interviewed Al Qaeda terrorist leader Osama bin Laden, the man believed to be behind the World Trade Center attack of September 11, will speak at The University of Alabama about his years of investigating bin Laden and his Jihadist terrorist network.

Bergen’s talk will be held at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, March 19 in Morgan Hall auditorium on the UA campus in Tuscaloosa.

Bergen’s lecture is part of the special September 11 Lecture Series in UA’s College of Arts and Sciences.

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Bergen is the author of the best selling book, "Holy War, Inc.: Inside the Secret World of Osama bin Laden," considered to be the most comprehensive work on bin Laden and the Al Qaeda terrorist network. Bergen has spent 10 years reporting on the Islamic world as a journalist and producer for CNN. In 1997, he conducted an extensive interview with bin Laden, the terrorist’s first interview with a western journalist.

In "Holy War, Inc.," Bergen describes bin Laden, the man, and compares the Al Qaeda to a multinational corporation with bin Laden as its chief executive officer.

He draws on his years of investigative reporting and interviews with scores of insiders &045; bin Laden associates, family members, Taliban leaders, CIA officials &045; as well as his extensive travels to Afghanistan, Yemen, Pakistan and elsewhere to present what John Green of Booklist calls "likely to be the best book on Islamist terror for some time to come."

… Although it may be impossible to fully understand bin Laden, Bergen does an admirable job of portraying him as a person, not just the face of terrorism," Green said.

Bergen’s book, which appeared on newsstands shortly after September 11, was the basis of the National Geographic Explorer Special two-hour documentary, "Holy War."

Bergen will be speaking at UA just a few weeks before he returns to Afghanistan to continue his investigation of the war and the Al Qaeda organization.

Previously, Bergen covered the bombing of the USS Cole and the 1999 hijacking of an Indian Airlines jet in Afghanistan. He has written extensively about Islamic militants for The New Republic and The Washington Times and has been a commentator on terrorism for Public Broadcasting Service and National Public Radio.

Bergen has been an international journalist and producer for CNN since 1990. From 1985 to 1990 he worked for ABC News. In 1983 he was a researcher for a film on Afghan refugees for British television. He recently served as a journalist in residence at John Hopkins University’s Center for Advanced International Studies and is the recipient of a Leonard Silk Journalism Fellowship and an Emmy award.

In 1994 he won an Overseas Press Club award for best foreign affairs documentary for "Kingdom of Cocaine." He received a bachelor of arts degree from New College at Oxford University.

The lecture is free and open to the public. It is sponsored by the College of Arts and Sciences Dean’s Office, New College program, department of political science; UA’s Office of the President and Office of the Provost; and UA’s College of Communication and Information Sciences.