Ali Soufan's Anatomy of Terror (W W Norton) has won the inaugural Airey Neave Book Prize.
First published in May 2017, the book traces the rise of Islamic State following the Arab Spring and the death of Bin Laden and sheds light on the histories, personalities and motivations of the leading characters of Islamist terrorism today.
The prize was presented by Lord Evans of Weardale KCB DL, and a cheque for £5,000 was given to the winning author by Julian Enoizi, c.e.o. of Pool Reinsurance Company, which sponsors the award.
In its first year, the Neave Prize will be awarded annually to the work of non-fiction which the judging panel considers to have made the most significant, original, relevant, and practically valuable contribution to the understanding of terrorism. Pool Reinsurance, the UK terrorism reinsurance fund, has agreed to sponsor the Neave Prize for an initial three years.
Soufan is a former FBI officer and expert on counterterrorism. He was the lead investigator of the bombing of the USS Cole and supervised counterterrorism operations during the investigation into the 9/11 bombings, proving instrumental in identifying Khalid Sheikh Mohammed as the mastermind of the attacks.
Soufan said: “In so many ways, terrorism consumes many of the views, many of the fears, and much of the politics we’ve seen in recent years. And yet, 16 years after 9/11, we still don’t fully understand our enemy. People fear the unknown and our role, as experts and as leaders, should be to light a candle towards this darkness.
"Our aim should be to evoke empathy in the sense of understanding terrorism on a deep level. That’s what I wanted to do in Anatomy of Terror. To understand their psyche and their history, and the way that terrorists view the world. I am very pleased to have been awarded the inaugural prize and look forward to continuing the work, with the help of the Airey Neave Memorial Trust, of educating our society about terrorism and, in so doing, helping to combat the threat.”
Ed Butler, a trustee of the Airey Neave Trust and head of risk analysis at Pool Reinsurance, said: “Ali Soufan’s book is an outstanding piece of writing, drawing on first-hand experience and meticulous research. Since its foundation, The Airey Neave Trust has always recognised the vital role that authors and academia play in understanding the drivers of terrorism and, importantly, how these threats can be mitigated. Ali Soufan has addressed many of these and we are delighted to recognise Anatomy of Terror as the winning book. The Airey Neave Trust and Pool Reinsurannce look forward to equally valuable submissions for the 2018 Neave Prize.”
The Airey Neave Trust was founded in memory of Airey Neave, and MP for Abingdon from 1953 until his death at the hands of terrorists in March 1979.Neave was assassinated in a car-bomb attack at the House of Commons and The Irish National Liberation Army (INLA) claimed responsibility. He was principal Opposition spokesman on Northern Ireland and one of Margaret Thatcher's closest advisers following her election as leader of the Conservative Party in 1975.