Ali Soufan, Founder of The Soufan Center




Ali Soufan is the Founder of The Soufan Center and Chief Executive Officer of The Soufan Group. A leading national security and counterterrorism expert, he plays a significant advisory role in global intelligence issues. As an FBI Supervisory Special Agent, Ali investigated and supervised complex international terrorism cases, including the East Africa embassy bombings, the attack on the USS Cole, and the events surrounding 9/11. He is the author of Anatomy of Terror: From the Death of bin Laden to the Rise of the Islamic State (2017) and the New York Times top-10 bestseller The Black Banners: The Inside Story of 9/11 and the War Against al-Qaeda (2011), winner of the 2012 Ridenhour Book Prize. On its original release in 2011, many of the most significant passages in The Black Banners were redacted; now, after a decade of legal wrangling, the full story can at last be told in The Black Banners (Declassified): How Torture Derailed the War on Terror after 9/11 (2020).

Ali Soufan had a distinguished career in the FBI, including serving on the Joint Terrorism Task Force, New York Office, where he coordinated both domestic and international counterterrorism operations. He often operated out of hostile environments and carried out sensitive extraterritorial missions and high-level negotiations, and he has received numerous awards and commendations for his work. These include the FBI Director’s Award for Excellence, the Respect for Law Enforcement Award for “relentless pursuit of truth and bringing terrorist subjects before the bar of justice,” and a commendation from the U.S. Department of Defense that labeled him “an important weapon in the ongoing war on terrorism.”

Ali has testified before the U.S. Congress, presidential commissions, and the British Parliament’s Home Affairs Committee, and he has appeared as an expert panelist and guest speaker at international security forums, both in the United States and abroad. He has contributed to and been profiled and interviewed by 60 Minutes, Frontline, The New Yorker, Newsweek, the Washington Post, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Straits Times, Der Spiegel, and Asharq al-Awsat, and he has appeared on CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, and the BBC. His work has also been detailed in several nonfiction books, including The Looming Tower, by Lawrence Wright, which was adapted into a 10-part Hulu series in 2018. In 2019, Ali was featured as a character in the Amazon Studios film The Report, which looked at America’s dark history surrounding the use of torture following the September 11 attacks. He is a Board Member of the James W. Foley Legacy Foundation since 2019. Ali is an honors graduate of Mansfield University of Pennsylvania, where he received his undergraduate double degree in International Studies and Political Science, minoring in Cultural Studies and Anthropology. He received a Master of Arts in International Relations from Villanova University, graduating magna cum laude.



How Torture Derailed the War on Terror after 9/11

W. W. Norton & Company 2020

W. W. Norton & Company


From the Death of bin Laden to the Rise of the Islamic State

W. W. Norton & Company 2017



The Inside Story of 9/11 and the War Against Al-Qaeda

W. W. Norton & Company 2011



MiliPol Asia-Pacific Conference

Terrorism Threats and the New Geopolitical Landscapes

April 04, 2019

9/11 Memorial & Museum

The Looming Tower

March 13, 2018


Combating Terrorism Center at West Point

Profile Piece Titled Iran’s Power Player

November 02, 2018

The Washington Post

Mar-a-Lago is a counterintelligence nightmare

April 10, 2018

The Atlantic

Telling the Truth About CIA Torture

March 15, 2018



A Conversation with Ali Soufan

October 9, 2020

World Affairs

The Remains of ISIS

11 June, 2019


White Supremacy And Terrorism

March 17, 2019


Based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning book, The Looming Tower traces the rising threat of Osama Bin Laden and Al-Qaeda in the late 1990s and how the rivalry between the FBI and CIA during that time may have inadvertently set the path for the tragedy of 9/11. The series follows members of the I-49 Squad in New York and Alec Station in Washington, D.C., the counter-terrorism divisions of the FBI and CIA, respectively, as they travel the world fighting for ownership of information while seemingly working toward the same goal – trying to prevent an imminent attack on U.S. soil. The 10-episode limited drama series, The Looming Tower, premieres Wednesday, February 28 only on Hulu.

John O’Neill (Jeff Daniels), the bullheaded chief of the I-49 Squad, is rightly convinced that the U.S. has been targeted for an attack by Al-Qaeda. He and his protégé, Muslim-American FBI agent Ali Soufan (Tahar Rahim), face deliberately insufficient cooperation from other organizations within the federal government. Specifically, their counterparts within the CIA, led by the frequently antagonistic Martin Schmidt (Peter Sarsgaard). Convinced he’s by far the smartest person in the room, Schmidt, along with his Alec Station protégé, Diane Marsh (Wrenn Schmidt), opt to disobey Presidential orders and horde information from the FBI under the misguided notion that the CIA is the only government agency equipped to battle potential terror threats from abroad.