Death will always find you
Even in the looming tower
Sura IV, The Koran
If you’re of a certain ideological bent you already know why the 9/11 attacks happened: either because America had it coming to them for various reasons (rather vaguely involving Israel); or maybe you think it was because the attackers were Muslims and they’re just prone to do that sort of thing now and then (possibly because they hate freedom).
To most people however these theories are less than persuasive, and fortunately we have Lawrence Wrights book The Looming Tower to help make sense of it all.
Endlessly fascinating, this book is at once a history of radical Islamic thought in the past 100 years, a history of modern Saudi Arabia and post-revolutionary Egypt, biographies of bin Laden and Zawahiri and an account of the failure of US intelligence to prevent the attacks.
Wright currently has an article up at the New Yorker about the various intellectual currents extant in the modern jihadi movement. It’s long but well worth the effort.