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Islamic State v. al-Qaida

Owen Bennett-Jones

3 November 2016
Isis: A History 
by Fawaz A. Gerges.
Princeton, 368 pp., £19.95, March 2016, 978 0 691 17000 8
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Isis: Inside the Army of Terror 
by Michael Weiss and Hassan​ Hassan.
Regan Arts, 411 pp., £12.99, April 2016, 978 1 68245 029 1
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Irregular War: Isis and the New Threat from the Margins 
by Paul Rogers.
I.B. Tauris, 224 pp., £18.99, June 2016, 978 1 78453 488 2
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... can hope to escape notice by obeying the rules and keeping a low profile. Under the militias, that wouldn’t be enough. People fear IS but some fear its opponents even more. As Michael Weiss and HassanHassan argue, the strategy of Abu Musab al Zarqawi’s al-Qaida in Iraq, the forerunner of Islamic State, has been posthumously vindicated. Zarqawi argued that the mass murder of Shias would provoke ...


Stephen Sackur: In Aswan

24 June 1993
... overlooking those blue waters relatives and lawyers make daily, often fruitless, requests for access to those still detained. ‘The people here feel trapped by the current situation,’ says Hassan Mohammed Hassan, one of the few lawyers prepared to represent the men incarcerated since 9 March. ‘Historically there has been very little support here for the Gama’a al-Islamiyya, but most ...

The Hijackers

Hugh Roberts: What will happen to Syria?

15 July 2015
From Deep State to Islamic State: The Arab Counter-Revolution and Its Jihadi Legacy 
by Jean-Pierre Filiu.
Hurst, 328 pp., £15.99, July 2015, 978 1 84904 546 9
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Syrian Notebooks: Inside the Homs Uprising 
by Jonathan Littell.
Verso, 246 pp., £12.99, April 2015, 978 1 78168 824 3
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The Rise of Islamic State: Isis and the New Sunni Revolution 
by Patrick Cockburn.
Verso, 192 pp., £9.99, January 2015, 978 1 78478 040 1
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Isis: Inside the Army of Terror 
by Michael Weiss and Hassan​ Hassan.
Regan Arts, 288 pp., £12.99, February 2015, 978 1 941393 57 4
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... Cockburn provides an invaluable history of IS along with a powerful critique of Western policy in Iraq and Syria and an unsparing analysis of Shia politics in Baghdad. In their book Michael Weiss and HassanHassan lean much further towards Filiu’s thesis, that the rise of IS can be blamed in large part on the Assad regime, and they devote a chapter to the dealings between the Syrian intelligence ...

Looking after men

Nicholas Spice

9 July 1987
The Present Moment 
by Marjorie Oludhe Macgoye.
Heinemann, 155 pp., £9.95, July 1987, 0 434 44027 2
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Memory of Departure 
by Abdulrazak Gurnah.
Cape, 159 pp., £9.95, April 1987, 0 224 02432 9
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You can’t get lost in Cape Town 
by Zöe Wicomb.
Virago, 184 pp., £3.95, May 1987, 0 86068 820 8
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... stall and the soldiers who shoot Bessie’s only son are Kenyan. The narrator of Abdulrazak Gurnah’s Memory of Departure is less reticent about the fruits of Uhuru. Like Macgoye’s old ladies, Hassan Omar remembers the Independence struggle as a time of communal fervour and hope: ‘We had then revelled in our oneness, speaking words of tolerance for past wrongs, forgiving ourselves for the ...

Behind the Sandwall

Jeremy Harding: Morocco’s Shame

23 February 2006
Endgame in the Western Sahara: What Future for Africa’s Last Colony? 
by Toby Shelley.
Zed, 215 pp., £16.95, November 2004, 1 84277 341 0
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... colony after the collapse of the Caetano dictatorship. Polisario was backed by Algeria, a formidable ally with ample weapons stocks, which nursed a long-standing animosity, reciprocated by King Hassan II and his government, towards the largely pro-Western monarchy on its western border. East Timor and Western Sahara are post-colonial narratives in the proper sense; and how badly they read. General ...
2 October 1997
Master and Disciple: The Cultural Foundations of Moroccan Authoritarianism 
by Abdellah Hammoudi.
Chicago, 195 pp., £30.50, September 1997, 0 226 31527 4
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... in some fashion by some subjects. Whatever the kinds of resistance, many of those subjects apparently invest emotionally in claims by their rulers to powers of blessing, or baraka (Morocco’s King Hassan); to the prestige of holy or sharifian descent from the Prophet Muhammad’s family (Jordan’s King Hussein and King Hassan); to the guardianship of Islam (the Saudi royal family); to the sacred ...

Jeremy Harding goes to Beirut to meet the novelist Elias Khoury

Jeremy Harding: ‘Before everything else, a writer of stories’

16 November 2006
... months, during which Khaleel ministers to the patient, Yunis, once a legendary fighter for the Palestinian cause, with drips, catheters, swabs and bedsore remedies. Khaleel has been advised by Umm Hassan, an elderly Palestinian midwife who grasps a death as she would the legs of a breech-birth baby, that he should talk to his unconscious patient even if it seems pointless. Khaleel obliges and in the ...

Chasing Ghosts

Alex de Waal: The Failure of Jihad in Africa

18 August 2005
... Three of the suspects in the attempted bombings in London on 21 July were born in the Horn of Africa. One, Yasin Hassan Omar, was born in Somalia; a second, Osman Hussein, in Ethiopia; and a third, Muktar Said Ibrahim, in Eritrea. Ten years ago, when Osama bin Laden lived in Khartoum, the Horn of Africa could ...
9 July 1987
The Age of Terrorism 
by Walter Laqueur.
Weidenfeld, 385 pp., £17.95, March 1987, 9780297791157
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The Baader-Meinhof Group: The Inside Story of a Phenomenon 
by Stefan Aust, translated by Anthea Bell.
Bodley Head, 552 pp., £12.95, June 1987, 0 370 31031 4
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... Baader ended up in jail again before being sprung by Ulrike Meinhof (one policeman was shot in the process). The group then set off for training in Jordan, dispensed by the Al Fatah leader, Abu Hassan. The period in the Al Fatah camp was pure black comedy. Baader’s request that his group be trained for bank robberies was easily met, but real trouble arose over their insistence that men and women ...

Short Cuts

Rory Scothorne: Class before Nation

14 December 2017
... left reinvigorated the party in England. The party’s remaining left-wingers weren’t thought worth consideration. Contributing to Mark Perryman’s The Corbyn Effect, a collection of essays, Gerry Hassan wrote that ‘the politics associated with Momentum have not translated north of the border, with the group not even organising in Scotland. Corbynista politics have coalesced around the much smaller ...


Jonathan Steele: Neo-Taliban

9 September 2010
... still providing? The official relaxed visibly. ‘We identify projects. We assist them in assisting us,’ he answered, as though the Taliban were doing foreigners a great favour. Mullah Muhammad Hassan Rahmani, the governor of Kandahar and a close associate of Mullah Omar, the Taliban leader, was happy to receive us for two hours as soon as our translator contacted his office. An unhurried and ...

Tales from the Bunker

Christopher Hitchens

10 October 1991
... parkland in a city where urban blight is an increasing problem. For another, its caddies are young and competitive and hire themselves out on a basis of keen but friendly rivalry. My own selection of Hassan, a lad of no more than twelve summers, proved especially fortunate. After judicious study of my game, he proffered advice on my swing which helped correct a lifelong tendency to slice. He also ...
21 September 2016
This Orient Isle: Elizabethan England and the Islamic World 
by Jerry Brotton.
Allen Lane, 358 pp., £20, March 2016, 978 0 241 00402 9
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... Jenkinson. Elizabethans saw dramas of conversion and cultural change played out wherever English Christians met Muslims. The possible dangers of such encounters were made apparent by figures like Hassan Aga, eunuch and treasurer to Hassan Bassa, king of Algier. Aga was better known to the English as Samson Rowlie, a merchant from Great Yarmouth. After being captured and castrated, he converted to ...

At Tate Britain

Peter Campbell: British Art and the French Romantics

20 February 2003
... life, turned away from the dramatics of the Raft. His pictures of racehorses and draught horses, Ward’s portrait of Napoleon’s white charger Marengo, the mounts in Combat between the Giaour and Hassan – Delacroix’s illustration of Byron’s poem (its first owner was Dumas himself, who bought it in 1827, shortly after it was painted) – are potent symbols of vitality. You understand why young ...

Dirty Money

Paul Foot

17 December 1992
A Full Service Bank: How BCCI stole millions around the world 
by James Ring Adams and Douglas Frantz.
Simon and Schuster, 381 pp., £16.99, April 1992, 0 671 71133 4
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Bankrupt: The BCCI Fraud 
by Nick Kochan and Bob Whittington.
Gollancz, 234 pp., £4.99, November 1991, 0 575 05279 1
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The BCCI Affair: A Report to The Senate Committee on Foreign Relations 
by Senators John Kerry and Hank Brown.
US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, 800 pp., September 1992
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Inquiry into the Supervision of the Bank of Credit and Commerce International 
by Lord Justice Bingham.
HMSO, 218 pp., £19.30, October 1992, 0 10 219893 4
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... of systematic fraud, conducted by what the New York District Attorney called ‘a corrupt and criminal organisation’ over a period of nearly twenty years. The mastermind behind the fraud was Agha Hassan Abedi. Abedi had what is known inside banks as charisma and outside banks as a nice line in drivel. He ‘inspired’ his staff to work hard by writing them homilies about God and loyalty. ‘It is ...

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