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Terrorist Trail: Backtracking the Foreign Fighter


This book is about covertly penetrating the enemy heartland along the ground. At the height of the Iraq War, it was selling to Marines in the Euphrates Valley at a rate of 200 per month. That's because it helped them to seize the initiative. First, it describes the West's most effective counter-guerrilla force. This was not the British in Malaysia, but Rhodesia's Selous Scouts. Their ability to operate safely as tiny teams deep in enemy territory is the model to which all U.S. special operators should aspire. Never fond of apartheid, they regularly converted former foes into loyal members. Then, it shows how to follow enemy footprints in urban terrain. Finally, it provides a spellbinding history of "terrorism" in Africa--the most recent arena for Islamist and Communist expansion.

What People Are Saying

“This heavily illustrated book covers not only urban mantracking procedures, but also how the West's best counterguerrilla fighters operated.”  - Goodreads.com, Jan. 2018

“Only a few military thinkers have given us the insight and practical help that John Poole has over the years.” - "Small Wars Journal" Book Review, Feb. 2007

“Poole examines ongoing events in Iraq, the Middle East and Africa through the enemy’s perspective. . . . “Terrorist Trail” has been widely applauded as a valuable handbook containing historical and tactical information that could help military strategists.” — "El Paso Times," 11 February 2007

“This book combines current events with historical detail, a rare combination in the book industry. Normally, there is a twelve-month delay in production alone. Delving into national histories of African jihadists entering Iraq, it stumbles upon major issues.” — "Military Officer Magazine," February 2007

“Pole provides the insight we need to win the war on terror. . . . [S]mall near-autonomous units of truly light infantry . . . [must] play the role of police force rather than occupiers.” — G2-forward.org, 31 January 2007

“Poole is one of the most innovative and creative thinkers to have served in the U.S. military. . . . Get the book . . . [and] share it with military people. . . . Help spread the word. . . . [O]nly with the clamor of a great crowd will it be heard.” — "Defense and the National Interest," 31 January 2007

“Only a few military thinkers have given us the insight and practical help that John Poole has over the years. In Terrorist Trail, “Gunny” Poole provides the insight we need to win the war on terror.” — Unconventional Warfare Review, 31 January 2007

The author uses historical data and the current . . . situations that highlight why history will repeat itself if we don't change our approach.  He also points out our victories and how we can institute a winning strategy that will counter the terrorists on their own terms.”- Leatherneck Magazine

 “[A]nother brilliant and insightful work. . . . [It has] a depth of research and understanding that . . . those facing today’s challenges [will need] . . . to clearly grasp the nature of the conflict and the enemy. . . . [A]nother must read . . . if you want to understand the true global . . . connection of the threats we face.” - Gen. Anthony C. Zinni, USMC (Ret.), former CENTCOM commander   

“[B]ook is a chilling description of the nature and extent of the constantly evolving and emerging [terrorist] threat as well as a . . . surprising expose of those countries funding and fueling the hatreds. . . . It’s true value, however, may be in outlining tactics and strategies to defeat today’s terrorism threat.” - Maj.Gen. John H. Admire , USMC (Ret.), former commander of 1st Marine Division

“[F]illed with mind-stirring information not easily found elsewhere, this [book is] on terrorism and insurgencyùwhere and how they have been fought, and some of the organizations, tactics, and techniques that have worked.” - Brig.Gen. Edwin Howard Simmons, USMC (Ret.), former head of History & Museums Div., HQMC

“[B]ook . . . has historical and tactical information essential to the containment of terrorism.  The research and detail is amazing! . . . [It says] pure massive power is counterproductive. . . . In all military schools, [it] . . . should be the bible for changing our philosophy and tactics to contain and defeat terrorism.” - Vice Adm. Thomas R. Sargent, USCG (Ret.), ship commander at the Battle of Leyte Gulf

“Once again, John Poole has made a substantial contribution to understanding a 21st-Century world likely to be dominated by 4th-Generation war.” - William S. Lind, author of Maneuver Warfare Handbook

 “China . . . has become . . . [a] player in the terrorist wars of the Middle East and elsewhere. . . . Poole recognizes this and has written a brilliant analysis of these two different but related theaters of . . . war that would make Orde Wingate and T.E. Lawrence proud. . . . This is a guide to victory over a determined foe.” - Kim Holien, professional military historian

“Poole’s . . . tactical manual explores . . . urban mantracking. . . . His target audience . . . [is] light infantry commanders. . . . [This] work . . . is the seventh in a series. . . . One chapter focuses clearly on the war in Iraq and is current through August of this year.” — Columbus Ledger-Enquirer, 23 November 2006 

“Well-written and thoroughly researched, the book is a bastion of knowledge and an unequalled training tool. It traces the world’s terrorist problems without taking political alliances.” — Quantico Sentry, 12 October 2006 

“Poole . . . writes . . . to supplement military training manuals. . . . [He] finds that al-Qaeda has been shipping fighters from Somalia to Afghanistan, Chechnya and Kenya, and [that] . . . Iranian-backed Hezbollah is sending fighters to the Middle East through Sudan.” — Savannah Morning News, 28 October 2006

Table of Contents
List of Illustrations
Part One: Tail of the Viper
Chapter 1: Baseej from North Africa
Chapter 2: Bilad as-Sudan
Chapter 3: Levant Passage
Chapter 4: Euphrates Pipeline
Chapter 5: The Ongoing War in Iraq
Chapter 6: Iran’s Growing Militancy
Part Two: “Dark Continent” Lessons
Chapter 7: Zulu Double-Envelopment
Chapter 8: Boer Stalking Attack
Chapter 9: South African Reconnaissance
Chapter 10: Selous Scout Infiltration
Chapter 11: African-Style Guerrilla Warfare
Chapter 12: Muslim Raids
Part Three: Grasping the Viper by the Tail
Chapter 13: Slowing the Flow of African Fighters
Chapter 14: Urban Tracking
Chapter 15: To Truly Win in a Place Like Iraq
About the Author
Name Index

Excerpt from the Introduction

Since the U.S. invasion of Iraq, jihadists have been entering that country from all over North Africa, with the largest contingent coming from Sudan.1  In late 2005, Americans learned that some bound for Afghanistan were being trained in Somalia.  They knew that al-Qaeda had been forced out of Sudan in 1996 and wondered if it had left a contingent nearby.

     Islamic extremists . . . are undergoing training at two terrorist training camps in Mogadishu, according to the Somaliland Times. The newspaper reported Dec. 12 that several dozen religious extremists were trained at the camps run by Hasan Aweys and Adan Hashi Ayro.  At least 10 British nationals of Somali and South Asian [Pakistani] origin were at the training camps. . . . The camps are code-named Baytul-Amn (safe haven) and Salah Al-Diin. . . . Baytul-Amn is located near the Islamic courts headquarters in Mogadishu.  The other training facility is at Shikaro, a neighborhood in SomaliaÆs lawless capital. The training program . . . is based on Al Qaida manuals.  Though most of the instructors are Somalis, Arab Afghans are teaching techniques for making powerful bombs and timers from easily available material.2 . . .    

. . . If al-Qaeda is sending jihadists to Afghanistan from Bosaso, and to Chechnya and Kenya from Ras Komboni, then someone else must be supplying fighters to the Iraqi theater from another country in the region.  The background of that operation forms the fabric of this book.  To short-circuit a Muslim revolution in the Middle East, the West must reduce the flow of baseej from North Africa.  

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ISBN 9780963869593

Paperback: 350 pages, 84 illustrations