A week after the dramatic terror alert that shut down 19 U.S. embassies, experts are starting to weigh in on what it means, and specifically what it tells us about the state of Al Qaeda. If I can sum up the answer in two words, it would be: not much.
Timbuktu, the scene of recent fighting, is not often thought of as an outpost of Jewish life. But 1,000 descendants of Jews who converted to Islam live near the Sahara Desert city.
Islamist fighters fleeing Mali’s ancient Saharan city of Timbuktu as French and Malian troops closed in set fire to a South African-funded library there containing thousands of priceless manuscripts, the city’s mayor said on Monday.
With most of the north of the West Africa state of Mali now in the hands of an Islamist rebel group linked to al-Qaeda, a group of civilians in the country’s capital Bamako say they are in training to take it back. They are part of a three hundred strong volunteer militia group who want to do what the government army seems unable to. Head of BBH volunteer brigade Mamadou Douawa: “We were all shocked and blindsided that our army failed in 72 hours and abandoned two thirds of the nation’s territory. We consider that it’s a problem of manpower so the youth have to come fill this gap in the army so that we can fight. But the volunteer groups appear to be no match for the Islamist militants who have taken control of most of the north and imposed Sharia law. Music has been banned, women risk being beaten if they are uncovered and people are being whipped in public for various misdemeanours. Timbuktu which was a centre of Islamic learning from the 13th to the 17th centuries has been overrun by Islamist militants Ansar Dine and al-Qaeda affiliated Islamic Maghreb, which have also destroyed half of the World Heritage tombs and mausoleums in the name of Islam. The loss of these shrines has sparked worldwide outrage but it has also caused great sadness and disapproval among Malians who have traditionally practiced a tolerant form of Islam; often described as an open and intellectual interpretation of the religion. Analysts believe it is not only Mali’s unique culture, including its …
In geographic space the farthest city from New York is Perth, Australia, but in mental space the farthest is certainly Timbuktu. The Malian city sits on the southern border of the Sahara Desert and is so distant that schoolchildren name it as an impossible place. Dictionaries define it as “the most distant place imaginable” or someplace “foreign, outlandish.” Appropriately then, The Sway Machinery — JDub Records’ preeminent cosmopolitan culture-divers — travelled to Timbuktu to make their new album, “The House of Friendly Ghosts Vol. 1.”