This series was written by Hal Bernton, Mike Carter, David Heath and James Neff.

It builds plot skillfully, progressing through a classic beginning, middle and end. It also offers what seems to us to be rare in these dangerous times: a fairly complete, insightful account of the life of one Islamic man willing to die for his cause. The plot is masterfully revealed; the first installment ends with the following sentences: “Ressam walked out to his rented, green, 1999 Chrysler 300M sedan. He delicately loaded its trunk with 130 pounds of bomb components. And he headed for Seattle.”

The plot primed in this way, the series’ writers take us back to Ressam’s childhood in Algeria and seek to understand why the boy will grow into a wannabe terrorist. It’s a fascinating, largely balanced account. In the middle of the tale, the writers choose to focus on the unimpressive qualities of Ressam and his cohorts—they seem hardly like brilliant masterminds of crime—and on the failure of their host, the apparently lackadaisical Canadian government, to hinder them. Perhaps the most interesting insight the narrative offers is the strange banality of this particular “terrorist threat.” It’s stuff fit for a novel, but of course it’s nonfiction, and that’s why it packs so much weight.

Read “The Terrorist Within,” by Hal Bernton, Mike Carter, David Heath and James Neff

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