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“Presumptuous and devoid of scholarly value” – a Book Review of Bruce Hoffman’s “Inside Terrorism”



by Elias Davidsson

[Editor’s note: This book review was written for mwcnews.net – the Media with Conscience News. I have lightly edited it. The author under review, Bruce Hoffman, was chosen by the Lindt Café Inquest to be its advisor on terrorism.]

The author, Bruce Hoffman, was for a long time a director at RAND Corporation in Washington, which he designates in his book as an “independent, objective, nonpartisan research institution” (p. xi).  Bruce Hoffman is not only an author of junk science, but is periodically invited to comment on CNN, the Washington Post, etc, as an “expert” on terrorism.

I do not intend to provide a review of all the author’s scholarly sins, as this would require a volume exceeding in size the very book in review. I will limit myself to point to a few elements that demonstrate (a) the deceptive nature of the book; and (b) its utter lack of scholarly value.

(1) The deceptive appearance of erudition

Hoffman’s book (revised edition) consists of 432 pages. The author devotes no less than 45 pages to a bibliography on terrorism, a whopping 72 pages to footnotes and 18 pages for an index. This extraordinary accumulation of sources creates the outward appearance of erudition and comprehensiveness. Yet the bibliography omits major critical works on terrorism.

Thus, the author omits from his bibliography critical works on the events of 9/11, such as those by Prof. David Ray Griffin and Dr. Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed. Dr. Ahmed deals at depth with the covert relationship between Western intelligence agencies and al-Qaeda.

The same omission applies to critical studies regarding the London Underground Bombings of July 7, 2005, or to those of the Mumbai 2008 attacks. Any serious student of terrorism cannot avoid coming sooner or later across serious critical works which examine the forensics of various terrorist acts and governmental efforts to cover-up the events.

(2) Junk science 

(a) Treatment of facts.

Good scientists are immediately recognized by the way they handle facts: They go to great pains to establish the empirical ground on which they base their theories. …When doubt about a fact exists, an honest scholar will share that doubt with readers and steer clear from sweeping assertions.

True scholars are also known to treat with circumspection statements by third parties, particularly when these parties do not report their own observations but merely what they have been told or had read. True scholars do not rely on unidentified and unverifiable sources.

There would be no purpose in harping on such commonplace rules of good scholarship, were it not for Mr. Hoffman’s systematic violations of these basic rules. I have stopped counting the unsubstantiated allegations made by him in his book and the number of cases where he relies on obviously dubious sources, such as on statements pronounced by a figure resembling Osama bin Laden on a video recording of dubious provenance.

(b) Disregarding the two most potent types of terrorism

The author is presented by mainstream media as an expert on terrorism, a designation that he does not dispute. Yet, from the three types of terrorism, he ignores completely the two main and most potent types: Overt state terrorism and false-flag terrorism.

False-flag operations are carried out secretly by military or police forces with the purpose to incite a population against a particular “villain.” False-flag operations are staged to appear as if they had been carried out by the “villain.” Due to the need to conceal the links between the perpetrators and state agencies, such operations require a high degree of secrecy and compartmentalization and are thus very complex. Substantial efforts are typically invested in the subsequent cover-up of such operations.

A classic case of false-flag terrorism was the burning of the Reichstag in Berlin in 1933, which was immediately seized by the new Nazi authorities to arrest communist and socialist leaders and establish a police state. False-flag operations are thus a distinct type of terrorism that calls for a completely different analytical approach than traditional or genuine terrorism.

The author not only ignores the very existence of false-flag terrorism but attributes all probable cases of such false-flag operations to al Qaeda … [He] not only confuses and misleads his readers, but engages in slander and contributes in his modest way to shield the true criminals of these operations.

(c) No assessment of terror investigations

As terrorism is essentially a violent form of political expression, it follows that states possess vital interests in either elucidating or concealing facts surrounding specific cases of terrorism. States are never neutral observers of such crimes. For that reason, a serious scholar will meticulously scrutinize the direction, manner and zeal of governments to investigate the crime.

States are actually duty-bound under human rights law to investigate cases of killings that occur within their jurisdictions. Such investigations must be carried out in good faith. State investigations into killings can be objectively assessed, using criteria of adequacy developed by the European Court of Human Rights, such as promptness, thoroughness, impartiality, the independence of the investigators and transparency.

States that fail to fulfill these criteria of adequacy can be presumed to act in bad faith. They call on themselves suspicion. Such presumption arises, for example, with regard to 9/11. Prof. David Ray Griffin wrote a book entirely devoted to the 9/11 Commission (“The 9/11 Commission Report: Omissions and Distortions”)

Bruce Hoffman’s discussion of terrorism relies almost entirely on either dubious terrorist sources or on allegations made by governments. The author does not even hint that some of these investigations of terrorist events may have been rigged, a charge made even by the chairman and vice-chairman of the 9/11 Commission after the Commission was disbanded.

(d) Hoffman and the story of Mohamed Atta’s suitcases

The story of Mohamed Atta’s two suitcases found at the Boston Airport on September 11, 2001, because they were not loaded onto the doomed aircraft, is well known. The story has been reported world-wide and used unsparingly to establish the official legend on 9/11.

Hoffman builds upon this legend to press his point that the 9/11 “hijackers” were motivated by religion. He thus wrote: “It only remains briefly to clarify the role religion played in the motivation of the hijackers. This can be seen very clearly in the ‘spiritual guide’ written for his accomplices by Mohammed Atta, the leader of the operation, and one of four pilots.”

Let us forgive the author for his harmless inaccuracies, such as the claim that the guide was found seven days after the attacks. Less forgivable is the author’s lack of intellectual curiosity. For one of the persistent questions regarding this episode is: What prompted Atta to drive to Portland on September 10, 2001 and fly from there back to Boston on an early-morning flight?  Had his connecting flight from Portland to Boston been delayed, he wouldn’t be able to carry out the first attack on the World Trade Center, meaning that no TV channels would be on the spot to film in real-time the impact of the second plane’s impact. Atta’s “life mission” would be a fiasco.

Let us briefly describe what was found in Atta’s suitcases: When the police opened these suitcases, it found in them all the constituent elements for building the 9/11 legend: a portable electronic flight computer, a manual for aircraft simulators, a flight computer, a handwritten text in Arabic, a folding knife, pepper spray, three English grammar books, an Arabic- English dictionary, a bottle of perfume, three photographs, letters from the University of Cairo to Mohamed Atta, a picture of a visa, Alomari’s passport and much more.

Were all these items packed into the suitcase in order being found by investigators? Perhaps. But in that case, the packers could not have been the “terrorists” because they could not have expected their suitcases to be forgotten in Logan “by mistake.” Did the “terrorists”, then, pack these items in order that they are destroyed in the aircraft crash? Perhaps. But in that case, why did they pack a folding knife and pepper spray into the suitcases, instead of taking these tools along on their bodies for use in the hijackings? Neither explanation makes sense.

Bruce Hoffman does not consider the possibility that Atta’s suitcases and their contents might have been planted there to be found. Hoffman can, however, be forgiven for ignoring what Philip A. DePasquale, a baggage expediter at Logan Airport in Boston, told the staff of the 9/11 Commission staff on February 10, 2004, regarding these suitcases

(Source: FBI document 302-46163, quoted in MFR04016228 of the 9/11 Commission). DePasquale told the staffers that the suitcases carried a “covert tag from US Airways [in Portland] to warn that Atta and his luggage were a security issue.”

That means that someone at US Airways was told of Atta’s alleged “security threat” before the attacks had started. In other words: Someone knew who Atta was, monitored his movements and ensured that baggage handlers at Logan will retain Atta’s bags.

Readers may reflect upon DePasquale’s testimony and its implications regarding the events of 9/11.

(e) Terrorist “manuals”

On page 251 the author cites “manuals” for the wannabe terrorist, that were allegedly found by unidentified persons on undisclosed dates in unspecified Qaeda’s training camps in Afghanistan.

These “manuals” are cited by the author as a result of al Qaeda absorbing lessons “in order to help its operatives blend in in Western environments and avoid attracting attention.”

These manuals include advice such as:

  • “Don’t wear short pants that show socks when you’re standing up. The pants should cover the socks, because intelligence authorities know that fundamentalists don’t wear long pants…
  • Underwear should be the normal type that people wear, not anything that shows you’re a fundamentalist.
  • Not long before traveling – especially from Khartoum – the person should always wear socks and shoes to [get] rid of cracks [in the feet that come from extended barefoot walking], which take about a week to cure…
  • You should differentiate between men and women’s perfume. If you use women’s perfume, you are in trouble.”

It is interesting that the authors of these “manuals” used the term “fundamentalist” to describe their own movement. Is this how jihadists refer to themselves or were the authors perhaps half-baked orientalists working for RAND Corporation?

If the purpose of the “manuals” had been to help al Qaeda operatives “to avoid attracting attention” in Western environments, as argued by author Hoffman, consider the fact that the alleged 9/11 terrorists were repeatedly arrested in the United States for too fast driving and one of them even complained to the local police about being mugged.

Mohamed Atta once attracted unusual attention to himself by leaving a small aircraft in the middle of the runway of Miami airport, because he did not know how to restart the engine.

This would normally cause him to lose his flight license or trigger an inquiry. But not in his case. He apparently had some protectors at higher places. Author Hoffman blithely ignores all these widely reported facts, which would have seriously dented the theories he promotes.


My findings above confirm what German intellectual Reinhard Jellen once wrote, namely that “ignorance and pretension [are today] not obstacles, but on the contrary prerequisites for professional success.” That Hoffman’s book was published by Columbia University Press taints seriously the credibility of that publisher.

While utterly useless as a textbook on terrorism, Bruce Hoffman’s book can be profitably used by aspiring academic prostitutes.  I first came across his book when I examined the activities of Germany’s Federal Center for Political Education (Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung, or BpB).

That is a propaganda institution that belongs to the Ministry of the Interior. The BpB promotes Hoffman’s book (in its German translation) to German schools and universities as a textbook on terrorism.

— Elias Davidsson is the author of Hijacking America’s Mind on 9-111, which deals mainly with the phonecalls allegedly made by passengers and crew aboard the hijacked planes.




  1. As a Rand employee, maybe he is an expert on terrorism. In the form of a planner of several terrorism events? How can anyone claim to be an expert on terrorism without being himself a terrorist that knows how these people think and what they think and what they have planned or about to plan?

  2. Don’t forget ABC’s and The Australian’s Greg Barton — counterterrorism expert at Deakin University.

    I’d love to interview him on the 19 Muslim terrorists that flew those planes 15 years ago… and how 8 of them survived and were found living in Morocco.

    I can’t recall him ever mentioning the word “false flag” – wonder if he knows the meaning.

    In an interview with Leigh Sales he said…

    GREG BARTON: Well if somebody phones up and says, “I’m concerned about my son, daughter, wife, husband, whatever, I love them, but they’re gonna do something stupid or they’re hanging around with bad company or they’ve changed their ideas and they’ve withdrawn in on themselves and saying foolish things,” be prepared to pick up the phone or go and see somebody they trust, allow somebody to come in and check out the situation.

    That phone call could be a life sentence for someone…
    The terrorism laws now mean you can possibly get life for a tweet. I believe they are going to have to find another way to address radicalism.

    But we need to change the experts FIRST on the ABC and other channels before the public will start thinking.

    • 2nd question to Greg Barton…
      How were those cell phone calls made on 9/11 when those phones did NOT work above 1500 feet?
      There are obviously many more questions but I believe this one is very vital.

        • Thanks Mary but I know how the cell phone calls were made. I’d like to hear Greg Barton’s explanation!
          I’m a follower of Rebekah Roth who has done more research on 9/11 than any other researcher, was a flight attendant for 30 years & has written 3 books (written as fiction) about 9/11…..Btw she has sent her books to Trump! Other researchers such as Jim Fetzer et al have attempted to prove she is CIA but they’ve never been able to back it up with facts….
          In fact when I was admin of a large international 9/11 FB group several knockers accused me of being her!
          Meanwhile I’ll check out your interview….

          • Yes Mary I have read your review…..We can agree to disagree & I note you haven’t read her further 2 books nor heard every radio interview which I have on file…
            I’ll state again that Rebekah has done more research on 9/11 than any other….

          • AJ — It great to have people disagreeing, as it stimulates discussion. I believe Mary has heard a radio interview as per her article https://gumshoenews.com/2015/10/13/sylvia-meagher-yes-mae-brussell-yes-rebekah-roth-surely-you-jest/

            But I’m responding to your “I’ll state again that Rebekah has done more research on 9/11 than any other….” That does not make sense. There are many researchers and organisations that have done excellent work from Griffin on… She has not featured on my list.

            Maybe describe 2 or 3 factors/areas Rebekah researched that definitively exposed 9-11.

          • Dee..
            1) Every cell phone call has been analysed in detail
            2) The closed airport to which the 3 planes were flown remotely
            3) Each flight & its passengers including the Mossad operative in seat 9….
            Those are 3 but there are many more that I cannot list here.
            Many pilots & flight attendants are in touch with her as well as witnesses to the planes flying low into the closed airport & an employee of that airport who went to work n 9/11 but was stood down for 3 days….
            She’s been ridiculed unfairly by academics….Rebekah Roth is obviously not her real name but those academics have made many errors in accusing her of being other people….Cheers…

  3. Greg Sheridan (5 years ago)

    “I think the September 11 events are very complex in their effect on Australian society. It became clear that it was an Al Qaeda action and that this was a branch of radical Islam, and that this was the beginning of a new strategic era.”

    Anyone want to review his book “The partnership”?

    • OK, Dee, if you want to get into recriminations — on Christas Day no less — let’s dig up The Age’s brilliant (I mean in the Sheridan sense) comment regarding Bali, and the Osama connection:

      by Tony Parkinson, National Editor Nov 14, 2002

      The Bali bombings were in direct retaliation for support of the United States’ war on terror and Australia’s role in the liberation of East Timor, according to a taped message attributed to terrorist chief Osama bin Laden. [!!!!]
      “Australia was warned about its participation in Afghanistan, and its ignoble contribution to the separation of East Timor,” the tape says. “But it ignored this warning until it was awakened by the echoes of explosions in Bali.”
      If authenticated, the tape represents the first substantive evidence that bin Laden survived [the 2001] US-led military campaign in Afghanistan to crush the Islamic terror cells blamed for the September 11 attacks.
      Although some senior US officials had concluded that bin Laden was dead, the emergence of the tape adds weight to the theory that he escaped. The tape singles out Australia as a close ally of Washington…. “You will be killed just as you kill, and will be bombed just as you bomb,” it says. “Expect more that will further distress you.”… Australia’s security agencies are running their own analysis. But Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said that even if the tape was verified as genuine, the Howard Government would not be blackmailed.

      Dee, that appears in my Sedition arcile at Gumshoe. I asked:

      So was the tape ever “verified as genuine”?

  4. Well that’s one book off my reading list!
    Mohammed Atta was very well known in the airline industry by the flight attendants as he always flew first class & was a frequent flyer….
    And we have to admire the contents of not only ‘Atta’s’ suitcase but also the advice given in the ‘Manuals’….

  5. Michel Chossudovsky said this on Sep 25, 2014 at globalresearch.ca:

    Lest we forget, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, have been financing and training the ISIL terrorists on behalf of the United States. Israel is harboring the Islamic State (ISIL) in the Golan Heights, NATO in liaison with the Turkish high command has since March 2011 been involved in coordinating the recruitment of the jihadist fighters dispatched to Syria. Moreover, the ISIL brigades in both Syria and Iraq are integrated by Western special forces and military advisers.

    All this is known and documented, yet not a single head of state or head of government has had the courage to point to the absurdity of the US sponsored United Nations Security Council resolution, which was adopted unanimously on September 24.

    “Absurdity” is an understatement. What we are witnessing is a criminal undertaking under UN auspices.

  6. “Underwear should be the normal type that people wear, not anything that shows you’re a fundamentalist.”

    Does that eliminate the g-string or anything vaguely Papal (eg frills)?

  7. Thank you Elias for that review. It reinforces a number of points important in the Australian context (and no doubt others). What strikes me when listening or watching “experts” on ABC or SBS or kn the Sydney Morning Herald is not their expertise, which is often dubious at best, but their willingness to parrot the official story rather than genuinely elucidate the subject matter.
    You use the example of 9/11, but there are many others. I have followed the two Kennedy assassinations and the King assassination for many decades. The only persons allowed on the mainstream sites to comment on these semiinally important events are those that are prepared to follow the official line.
    The reasons are perhaps obvious. The truth about the perpetrators of those crimes would reveal facts about how governments really operate and the steps they are prepared to follow to remove inconvenient people. That must never be openly acknowledged and therefore we are inflicted with the “experts” like Hoffman and many more.

  8. “The author under review, Bruce Hoffman, was chosen by the Lindt Café Inquest to be its advisor on terrorism.”

    Many people have questions about whether the Lindt Cafe’ incident was a ‘psy-op’. The fact that this Hoffman character was CHOSEN by the inquest to be its advisor, leaves the inquest open to the suggestion that the inquest was never intended to be an honest inquest.

    Advice to the Deep State – bad choice guys, what were you trying to do, send up a red flag?

  9. Dee re 9/11….
    A further comment….
    As you may or may not know the 9/11 Truth community is a very jealous one (part of the reason why I left 911 groups) but to have a female ex FA come along & write 3 best selling books (albeit being fiction) about the subject & investigate areas which had not been researched previously was unheard of! The main male researchers researched the 3 buildings only (& are still arguing about them all including Building7) so to see the event from a different perspective is very enlightening….
    One of the women who they accused of being RR was researched carelessly to the detriment of the woman & her young family….
    And btw I DO follow some of the other good researchers so I have many sources….

    • Elias Davidson’s years of research into phone calls would be difficult to match. His big break came when the Moussaoui trial caused the FBI records of the phone calls to be revealed.

      About “9/11 Truth community is a very jealous one”… That is human nature — but what is MUCH more relevant is that these 9-11 groups were deliberately INFECTED and DISRUPTED, to make out many times as if it were “jealously” or gender bias.
      I am concerned by reports I have heard on Rebekah. These reports had nothing to do about jealously or gender.

      • Dee, you are absolutely right. The Moussaui trial obliged the FBI to release the transcripts of the cell phone calls. The most important ones were the alleged calls made by Barbara Olsen, wife of the Solicitor General. Ted Olsen gave a detailed account of his phone conversations with his wife who was aboard Flight 93, alleged to have crashed into the Pentagon.
        It was Olsen’s details account that was used by the 9/11 commission to describe the alleged hijackers, what they were wearing, that they had box cutters etc.
        The FBI told the trial in their sworn testimony that Mrs Olsen made two attempted phone calls and they each lasted zero seconds; i.e. she was not able to speak to her husband.
        This evidence was devastating to the official story, which is why the FBI’s evidence never found its way into the mainstream press.
        Not for the first (or last) time the msm hides that which is inconvenient.

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