As Zero Dark Thirty Builds Buzz, Terrorist University Offers Further Insight into U.S. Intelligence, Counterterrorism

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A new film called Zero Dark Thirty tells the story of U.S. efforts at eliminating Osama bin Laden—and as the movie builds buzz, author Nicholas Black says his new book, Terrorist University, brings a similar perspective.

In recent years, few movies have been talked about as frequently as Zero Dark Thirty. Releasing nationwide on January 11, and already winning over critics and building immense awards buzz, the film—from The Hurt Locker director Kathryn Bigelow—touches raw nerves, beginning with a montage of distress calls placed on September 11, 2001, and culminating in the story of the United States’ efforts to eliminate Osama bin Laden. The bulk of the film wrestles with the real-life demands and contradictions of American intelligence-gathering and counterterrorism activities—and as Zero Dark Thirty builds steam, author Nicholas Black says that his re-released book Terrorist University offers insights into similar themes. Based on his own experiences in the U.S. Navy and the French Foreign Legion, Black’s book tells the story of his involvement in an undercover operation which ran from October 2002 until June 2003, and which culminated in the Madrid train bombings of March 11, 2004.

Now, Black has issued a new statement to the press, commenting on some of the thematic overlap between Zero Dark Thirty and his own book. “Though the film tells a different story from a different part of the world, many of the themes and ideas in the two works are really quite similar,” the author explains. “It is clear that there remains much interest in the topics of terrorism, and of America’s actions against it.”

Black’s own account tells the story of what he perceives as the government’s failure to act on reliable intelligence. In Terrorist University, Black makes major claims about the United States and its involvement—or lack thereof—in the Madrid bombing, going so far as to claim that the U.S. government was fully aware of the intended terrorist attack, and permitted it to happen.

Hardly the work of a conspiracy theorist, Terrorist University is a work characterized by both personal experience and exhaustive research. In the newly-revised version of the book, available now via Enoch Press, Black includes court documents and legal files to validate his claims. Still, the bulk of the book is based on Black’s own experiences as an inmate in Spain’s Valdemoro prison. Here, on an undercover intelligence-gathering mission, Black obtained insider intelligence into al Qaeda operations. “I was waiting for extradition and the U.S. Government found an opportunity to use my position to help gather intelligence on pending terrorist activity,” Black explains.

The group of terrorists from whom Black gleaned intelligence ended up being the same group to perpetrate the deadly Madrid train bombing. Thus, the impetus for Terrorist University, in which Black tells of how his counterterrorist information could have helped avert tragedy, but was instead ignored. Crucially, the book is the clear product of an avowed patriot, not an anti-government instigator. “The book is written from a standpoint of honest, constructive questioning,” Black says. Like Zero Dark Thirty, Terrorist University seeks to make sense out of the political, ethical, and practical issues that inform U.S. intelligence-gathering and counterterrorism.

Terrorist University marks the second edition of Black’s tome, which was originally released as Walking Ghost: Welcome to Terrorist University. The improved second edition of the book is available now on Amazon Kindle and in paperback from Enoch Press.


Nicholas Black is a former Security Contractor, U.S. Navy serviceman and member of the French Foreign Legion. In his book, Terrorist University, ISBN-13: 978-1481174008/ISBN-10: 1481174002, Black vividly recounts his undercover intelligence gathering operations Ibiza and Valdemoro prison in Spain. The intelligence he gathered during the effort should have successfully prevented the Madrid train bombings on March 11, 2004; however, history tells a different story. Nicholas Black can be found online at Terrorist University is available as a paperback or an e-book, from Enoch Press.

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