In my last article I said that the story of Amir Meshal deserved its own article, and I thought I might do that here. But as Burns once wrote, “The best-laid schemes o’ mice an ‘men, / Gang aft agley.” Meshal’s ordeal in Africa will matter here, but in some senses it will serve as the backdrop of a much different facet of the jihad story, one fairly well known but surprising in its relationship. With respect to Meshal, it may simply be a series of unfortunate coincidences, but if it isn’t then it may say a great deal about him and the danger he potentially represents. To be clear, much of the detail surrounding his experience there is drawn from the court filing in the Higgenbotham case, so it represents Meshal’s point of view. What the government contends with respect to Meshal’s activities can’t be probed directly.
Omar Ahmed Ali Abdel Rahman, the “Blind Sheikh”, passed away at the age of 78 in a North Carolina prison hospital on February 18, 2017. For such an important character in the modern jihadist movement, the event passed with little fanfare—a few stories and no protests or celebrations to my knowledge. Yet, his story here in the US deserves more attention because he and his associates were at the epicenter of the burgeoning confrontation between the United States and some of its erstwhile allies in Afghanistan. Continue reading