In This Review

Disruption: Inside the Largest Counterterrorism Investigation in History
Disruption: Inside the Largest Counterterrorism Investigation in History
By Aki J. Peritz
Potomac Books, 2021, 408 pp.

In this gripping account of a complex and ultimately successful counterterrorism investigation, Peritz opens with the two sets of terrorist attacks in London in July 2005, the first leading to many deaths but the second failing as the bombs fizzled rather than exploded. The British-bred Rashid Rauf orchestrated the attacks from Pakistan. Disappointed that one of the bombs had failed to detonate, he decided to improve the explosives used, eventually devising a plot to bring down passenger aircraft using bottles of liquid hydrogen peroxide disguised as sodas. British intelligence got wind of the plot and began a vast surveillance operation, following the terrorists as they acquired the ingredients for their bombs and filmed their martyrdom videos. One of the most significant aspects of the story is the tension between British officials who wanted to gather evidence to be sure a case against Rauf and his collaborators would stand up in court and their impatient American counterparts, who were keen to move before the plotters launched their attack. The Americans eventually preempted the issue by getting Rauf arrested in Pakistan (he later escaped custody), forcing the British into rushing arrests in the United Kingdom and jeopardizing the trial of the conspirators.