Diaz, Tom

views updated



ADDRESSES: Agent—c/o Author Mail, Ballantine Books, 1745 Broadway, New York, NY 10019.

CAREER: Author, journalist, and counter-terrorism consultant. Reporter in Central America, India, Pakistan, former Soviet Union, and Middle East. Chief Council to House Crime and Criminal Justice Subcommittee for then-Congressman Charles Schumer, 1993–97; Violence Policy Center, Washington, DC, senior policy analyst; U.S. Department of Justice, consultant on terrorism and law enforcement issues. Former CIA agent.


Making a Killing: The Business of Guns in America, New Press (New York, NY), 1999.

(With Barbara Newman) Lighting out of Lebanon: Hezbollah Terrorists on American Soil, Ballantine Books (New York, NY) 2005.

Contributor of articles to newspapers and magazines.

SIDELIGHTS: Tom Diaz is a journalist and consultant on counter-terrorism who has also authored two books on security issues. His 1999 Making a Killing: The Business of Guns in America, is an indictment of the gun industry and gun lobby for what Diaz sees as its wanton proliferation of weapons throughout American society. Diaz takes both the industry and lobbyists to task for what he perceives as scare tactics in order to continue to sell into what is essentially a saturated market. Thus, every riot or spate of burglaries becomes a testimonial by the gun industry to the need for more gun ownership for self-protection. Diaz also faults the industry for its sale of ever-more-powerful assault weaponry as well as for concealed weapons, which he sees as another business ploy to re-open saturated markets. Patrick Petit, writing in Library Journal, called the book an "impressive indictment of the firearms industry" as well as a "thoughtful overview" of the subject. Similarly, Mary Carroll, writing in Booklist, felt that "Diaz's portraits of manufacturers, dealers, and promoters are enlightening." For Resa King, writing in Business Week, Making a Killing is a "meticulously researched book," and also a "powerful though loaded indictment." King pointed out that, as a senior policy advisor for the antigun Violence Policy Center, Diaz is probably less than objective on the subject of guns in America. Reviewing the same work in the Canadian Journal of Criminology, Thomas Gabor concluded that Making a Killing is "obligatory reading for firearms policy analysts, individuals interested in consumer safety issues and even business students seeking to understand the creative means through which businesses can overcome market saturation."

Diaz also teamed up with Barbara Newman on the 2005 Lighting out of Lebanon: Hezbollah Terrorists on American Soil, an account of how a Hezbollah terrorist cell was discovered in North Carolina in 2000. The authors tell how FBI agents were able to assemble evidence on the leader of the cell, Youssef Hammoud; they also provide profiles of Hammoud as he grew up in Lebanon, and of one of the members of the cell, Said Harb. The cell, located in Charlotte, was responsible for drug smuggling, among other illegal activities that were geared toward raising money for arms and equipment for the terrorist organization. Diaz and Newman conclude that more interagency sharing of information is needed to combat such sleeper cells of international terrorist organizations, and that more border surveillance is also needed. For a contributor to Publishers Weekly, Lighting out of Lebanon is a "compact and cogent addition to the literature of terrorism." The same reviewer also praised the authors for their "clear prose with a minimum of political axegrinding." Reviewing the same title in Booklist, Vernon Ford called it a "frightening look at the need to recognize the potential for further terrorist danger on American soil."



Booklist, January 1, 1999, Mary Carroll, review of Making a Killing: The Business of Guns in America, p. 804; February 1, 2005, Vernon Ford, review of Lighting out of Lebanon: Hezbollah Terrorists on American Soil, p. 923.

Business Week, February 1, 1999, Resa King, "Fire-power for the Antigun Lobby," review of Making a Killing, p. 16E12.

Canadian Journal of Criminology, January, 2001, Thomas Gabor, review of Making a Killing, p. 145.

Library Journal, January, 1999, Patrick Petit, review of Making a Killing, p. 126.

New American, January 14, 2002, William Norman Grigg, "Who Really Stands with Terrorists?," p. 44.

Publishers Weekly, January 3, 2005, review of Lighting out of Lebanon, p. 44.

U.S. Newswire, December 10, 2003, "Bob Ricker, Former NRA Lobbyist, and Tom Diaz, Assault Weapons Expert, to Hold Briefing on Expiring Federal Assault Weapons Ban."