Michael Burleigh

Chaos Theory

The Last Refuge: Yemen, Al-Qaeda, and the Battle for Arabia


Oneworld 352pp £14.99 order from our bookshop

The terrorist assault on the In Amenas gas facility in Algeria in January, by a breakaway faction of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) seeking the limelight, led David Cameron to declare that a ‘large and existential threat’ to the West existed in North Africa. He made this pronouncement even as black Malians, some of whom are still enslaved to Arabs and Tuaregs, welcomed troops from their former colonial overlord who delivered them from Islamist tyranny.

In reality, apart from the ransom-driven kidnappings of foreigners, AQIM has never been involved in attacks on the West. Instead, its aim has been to establish a secure operating base in Mali or other failing states in the Sahel, where its moralising

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