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Digital Subscriptions > Newsweek International > 30th March 2018 > Ali Soufan

Ali Soufan


IT’S EASY TO SEE WHY HULU WOULD TURN LAWRENCE WRIGHT’S 2006 Pulitzer Prize–winning book, The Looming Tower, into a TV series. His deepdive account of the Middle Eastern politics and Islamic militant rivalries that culminated in the birth of Al-Qaeda was eminently cinematic. The result is the gripping 10-episode adaptation, which began streaming on February 28. The show concentrates on the poisonous FBI-CIA rivalries and feckless policies of two administrations that effectively provided Osama bin Laden’s network with an opportunity. As the 9/11 plot developed in the summer of 2001, one of the leading FBI agents assigned to stop it was Lebanese-born Ali Soufan (played by Tahar Rahim). As seen in the series, he and his boss, John O’Neill (Jeff Daniels), encountered CIA resistance to sharing information on Al-Qaeda militants in the U.S. “There was never true accountability for the failure to prevent 9/11,” says Soufan, now CEO of a private intelligence firm. “Hopefully, this show can bring some understanding to what happened and put us closer to closure.”

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VIKTOR ORBAN In early March, Janos Lázár , a senior Hungarian minister, posted a video on Facebook complaining about the lack of “white Christians” in Vienna. Muslim migrants, he warned, were destroying the city, and if someone didn’t do something, they would transform Budapest, Hungary’s capital, in a similar way. “If we let them in…our cities,” Lazar told his followers, “the consequences will be crime, impoverishment, dirt, filth and impossible urban conditions.” Lázár is chief of staff to Viktor Orbán, the Hungarian prime minister, and his post came roughly a month before the country goes to the polls in April. It was a classic move from Orbán, something his Alliance of Young Democrats (known as Fidesz) had done many times before: play to voters’ fears over Islam and immigration.