The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11

Wright, Lawrence

Alfred A. Knopf, 2006

pp. 51-52

In October of 1981 Ayman al-Zawahiri was picked up by Egyptian authorities on suspicion of complicity in the terrorist assassination of Egypt’s Anwar Sadat.  Sadat had been the object of rage from militant Muslims who deeply resented his friendship with the West and his peace efforts with Israel.  After the assassination, Egyptian authorities imprisoned Zawahiri and other suspect in a twelfth century dungeon and horribly tortured them.  Even the breaks in the regimen of torture were horrible because of the screams of other prisoners being interrogated.  After 9/11 many human rights advocates in Cairo argued that the blow against America was fueled by Egyptian torture of militants.  The militants hated Egypt’s secular government, but also the West for enabling it.  The West was responsible for corrupting Egypt and humiliating these pure-minded militants who tried in assassination and other terrorism to get retribution—or what they called justice.  Ayman al-Zawahiri, in particular, would become a violent extremist after being tortured—and an ally of Osama bin Laden. His need for retribution became “all-consuming.”