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Terror threat didn't die with Osama bin Laden

For every Joel Osteen “book,” there are quite a few good titles on the shelves, and, occasionally, something really stands out in a number of ways.

Catherine Herridge’s effort, “The Next Wave,” certainly qualifies – an investigation of the lethal terror threats that still confront us here in America.

Subtitled “On the Hunt for Al Qaeda’s American Recruits,” this is the most explosive book on the subject that I’ve read. Among the gems: Herridge uncovers the largely untold story of American-born cleric, Anwar al-Awlaki, whose mysterious escape from American authorities is curious at best.

Herridge, Fox News correspondent, has been on the trail of the 9/11 hijackers story, and her intrepid reporting has uncovered information that should be of major concern to every American.

Among the information Herridge reveals: al-Awlaki managed to elude the U.S. dragnet after the attacks in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania. In fact, so odd was his evasion that one wonders if we wouldn’t have been better off if Joe Friday had been in charge of the case.

Herridge’s investigation has taken her from Washington, D.C., to Yemen (a hotbed of lethal terrorist planning), and she informs us that groups like Al Qaeda are operating in North Africa and Somalia.

The really meaty part of “The Next Wave,” though concerns intelligence blunders within this country. Like (only) a handful of other investigators – who are really on the frontlines of uncovering dangers to Americans – Herridge is willing to stick her neck out to do serious reporting. And the writing is terrific in “The Next Wave,” a blow-by-blow account of her investigations.

At one point, Herridge discusses a contact within the FBI, “Daniel L.”: “Because of his deep Christian beliefs, Daniel is not afraid to discuss the darkness of radical Islam. ‘The enemy is a mix of thug and wicked ideologue. Many today will not use the term wicked because of its abuse in the movies and overuse with regard to the opposition. I believe, though, that it is rightly applied to the radical, Islamic jihadist that the Obama administration is so desperate to assimilate, ignore, or redefine.'”

Wow. Actual sources that will tell it like it is in this war on terror, and Herridge is adept at fleshing out the story with rich detail. There is more real reporting in a single chapter of “The Next Wave” than one will find on a network news program in a year, and that’s no exaggeration.

There is plenty in “The Next Wave” that should be unsettling for the reader, not least of which is Herridge’s recollections of, for example, trying to get information from the State Department. Plenty of times while reading this book, I wondered, who is friendly and who is not? In other words, don’t let an American flag lapel pin fool you.

When Herridge was attempting to track down the real story concerning al-Awlaki, she talked to a number of analysts who really know what’s going on with regard to the terror threat to the U.S. In fact, her reporting in “The Next Wave” makes Leon Panetta’s assertion some months back that with “20 more kills” Al Qaeda will effectively be defeated seem more foolish than when he said it.

And for those who thought that Osama bin Laden’s death meant the end of the real threat to America, think again, says Herridge. In fact, her dogged pursuit of the story of al-Awlaki proves that our real interest now should be:

All this and more make “The Next Wave” indispensable reading. An added bonus is the detail on Herridge’s obstacles in reporting about what has really gone on at Guantanamo Bay, where the more lethal terrorists have been held. Most disturbing is the intimidation threats from Pentagon media officers, opposing Herridge’s reporting on such.

No, far from seeing light at the end of the tunnel, we might be just at the point of entering the tunnel. For what “The Next Wave” shows us is that a multi-layered terror strategy will require our full alert for a generation or more. From cyber terrorism, to nuclear threats (“The nuclear attack is predicted to be a device the size of a refrigerator, smuggled up a major waterway to cities such as New York, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C.”), our enemies haven’t gone away or given up, not by a long shot. They are nothing if not relentless.

Catherine Herridge has provided, in my view, an absolutely essential handbook on the true threats. Anyone interested in this subject is urged to get a copy of “The Next Wave.” Five stars out of five stars!

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