Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Egypt and The Global War on Tourists

I was sad to see what happened in Dahab this week. I used to live in Egypt and it remains one of my favorite places in the world. In this week's Shadowland column, "The Global War on Tourists," I look at the way Al Qaeda's decentralization has forced it to focus on soft targets, putting vacationers at risk all over the world, but especially in the Muslim world. One grim detail in a memo Vivian Salama sent from the scene: diving instructors volunteered to search the waters off Dahab for bits and pieces of the victims.

Among the people I talked to for this article was Bruce Hoffman, who is certainly one of the most reasonable and reliable authorities on terrorism I know. His 1998 book, "Inside Terrorism," was updated after 2001, but its greatest value is the historical background it gives about the years when the danger was mounting, but few policymakers, and even fewer members of the public, were paying attention. (Of course, this was also the theme of my 1997 novel, "Innocent Blood.")

Another source for the column was Scott Atran's very interesting and persuasive article in the most recent issue of "The Washington Quarterly," which brings our understanding of trends in suicide terrorism up to date, and puts those new developments in the context of emerging ideological treatises like that of the Syrian Abu Mus'ab al-Suri. -- C.D.
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