In his film Timbuktu, Abderrahmane Sissako shows a traditional Muslim society overrun by outsiders claiming they have the God-given authority to tell everyone what to do. The film is inspired by the 2012 takeover of much of Northern Mali by jihadist and other rebel groups. It is both specific to its setting and raises questions about struggles playing out across the Muslim world. I can't think of another creative work that takes such an imaginative, subtle, assured look at Islamist militancy and its effects.
Islamism was born in Egypt in 1928. And it was in Egypt, 85 years later, that the first successful uprising against an Islamist government occurred. The overthrow of the Muslim Brotherhood is a momentous event: but to foreign observers, the army’s intervention overshadowed everything else.
Ever since the reports of October’s foiled ink-cartridge bombings mentioned that a book was in one of the boxes along with the printer, I’ve wondered what it was, and if it had some symbolic meaning. It was impossible to make out in news photographs, but the mystery is solved in the November issue of al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula’s English-language magazine (via Christopher Hitchens in Slate), which published pictures of one of the bombs being made and a close-up of the book:
The British mercenary Simon Mann isn't the only would-be assassin who has been making apologies for trying to overthrow an oil-rich country’s government. The Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, established in Afghanistan in the 1990s, has killed dozens of Libyan soldiers and policemen over the years. But the LIFG recently apologised to Colonel Gaddafi for trying to kill him, and agreed to lay down its arms for good. Six members of the LIFG’s leadership, held inside Libya’s Abu Sleem prison, released a 420-page document disavowing their old ways and explaining why fighting Gaddafi no longer constituted legitimate jihad.