Beirut Rules, an interesting title which became a bit blurred as I’m reading because it became apparent that Beirut had no rules. It had chaos, it had death, it had torture, it had many more terrible things. But, not many rules were established or followed. Fred Burton and Samuel M. Katz delivered in Beirut Rules a time line that dates and pin points where Jihadist terrorism originated. This isn’t a political thriller from which an author picks a live tragedy and develops a story around it and their protagonist saves the day. This book has no happy ending. However, it does have the truth, the facts, and the tools that in my opinion any Military recruiter can use to motivate a hard charger straight out of high school to put on a uniform and defend this great country.
As a former Marine, I remember going through boot camp and learning about historic Marine Corps events; the first amphibious assault back in 1776, the battle of Chapultepec (in the USMC hymn “from the Halls of Montezuma”), the battle of Belleau Wood, where Marines earned the name “Devil Dog,” Iwo Jima, the “Chosin Few,” and then the 1983 Beirut barracks bombing, where 220 Marines were killed. History is important to Marines, both successful operations and tragic ones. Therefore, I was fairly familiar with Beirut starting this book, but coming out the other side I felt like a mountain of information has been instilled in me.
Global terrorism wasn’t a thing until it hit our shores, people just weren’t concerned with third world countries around the world. Even a few years past 9/11 I’ve heard many service members say things like, “America isn’t at war, America is at the mall. The (insert your branch of service) is at war.” America and its closest allies however were at war with Jihadist, a terrorist group named Hezbollah. This group, led by a Imad Mughniyeh is responsible for successful terror strikes all over the world. At one point, intelligence agencies had Imad in their cross hairs, in 1995 over a decade of terror strikes, kidnappings and killings under his belt. He was on a commercial flight and plans were set in motion to have that flight re-directed and land in Saudi Arabia where swarm of US special agents from the entire alphabet soup would be waiting to apprehend him. Seems simple enough, until Saudi Arabia told the plane not to land due to “security concerns.” Can you imagine that, the sheer terror one man commanded that an entire country was too scared to play a part in his capture due to the retaliation it most surely would have brought on.
Beirut Rules details the attacks perpetrated by Hezbollah. Such as the 1983 U.S. Embassy bombing in Beirut, then the same year the US Marines barracks bombings I mentioned above, hijacking of commercial airliners decades before 9/11 occurred, the kidnapping, torture, and murder of two high level US Government Officers. First, William F. Buckley the CIA station chief. Who was held captive for 444 days, an autopsy was completed and they could not tell with any certainty what exactly killed Mr. Buckley, think about that for second, an autopsy could not identify a cause of death, could it have been abuse, torture, disease, malnutrition. This man suffered more than any one of us can comprehend. Then Marine Lieutenant Colonel William Higgins, who was a prisoner of war for 529 days, continuously being tortured and deprived. Both of these men should NOT have been in their current role prior to being kidnapped. Lieutenant Colonel Higgins military posting prior to going to Beirut was a military assistant to the special assistant to the Secretary of Defense. Can you imagine how much knowledge and state secrets were inside his head? Burton and Katz do a great job painting a picture of two dangerously placed officers that should not be there. The US wasn’t Hezbollah’s only target, they came across many opportunities with journalists, priests, soldiers, pilots. Besides the USA, Israel had the most motivation, and at one point after the bodies of Buckley and Higgins were finally recovered, sole motivation to capture or kill Imad Mughniyeh. His ultimate demise, was nothing short of brilliant. It just took a decade or two too long.
I urge you to pick up Beirut Rules and educate yourself on the world that lies beyond our safe borders. Burton and Katz do a fine job educating us into the birth of jihadist terrorism, but they do not cite the ending of it, because it is far from over. The world is a scary place and I give thanks to the men and women in uniform and those in the intelligence community that work tirelessly to keep us safe day in and day out.
Authors: Fred Burton and Samuel M. Katz
Pages: 400 Hardcover
Publisher: Berkley Publishing
Release Date: October 23, 2018
Lima Charlie Review Rating: 9/10
About the Authors:
Fred Burton is one of the world’s foremost experts on security, terrorists, and terrorist organizations. He is vice president for counterterrorism and corporate security at Stratfor, an influential private intelligence company. He is the former deputy chief of the Diplomatic Security Service, the Department of State’s counterterrorism division.
Samuel M. Katz is the author of more than twenty books and one hundred articles on Middle East security issues, terrorism, and police and military special operations. The founder of Special Operations Report, he has appeared as an expert on networks ranging from BBC World News to Fox News to Al Jazeera. Coauthor with Fred Burton of the New York Times bestseller Under Fire: The Untold Story of the Attack in Benghazi, he is also the author of The Ghost Warriors: Inside Israel’s Undercover War Against Suicide Terrorism; Relentless Pursuit: The DSS and the Manhunt for the Al-Qaeda Terrorists; The Hunt for the Engineer: How Israeli Agents Tracked the Hamas Master Bomber; and many other books on the Arab-Israeli conflict and international counterterrorism.