Stories by Christopher Dickey

  • Female Jihadis Use the Web, Not Bombs

    Many questions remain surrounding Defne Bayrak, the wife of CIA bomber Humam al-Balawi, who blew himself up along with seven CIA employees in Afghanistan on Dec. 30. Did she put him up to the bombing? Is this a "divorce, jihadi style"? Read what she's said so far, and you're left wondering.Al-Balawi first came across Bayrak in a chat room in the 1990s. An aspiring journalist, she had just started wearing the hijab—a clear political as well as religious statement in Turkey. While he struggled with his medical career, she pursued hers at Islamist newspapers and, eventually, as a jihadi propagandist. Over the past decade, this has become a key role for female sympathizers of Al Qaeda. "A significant development in women's participation in the global Jihad has been the dissemination of radical ideologies on-line," writes scholar Mia Bloom in a draft of her forthcoming book, Bombshell: Women and Terror. One of the most famous examples is Malika al-Aroud, the Belgian widow whose husband...
  • The Role of Women in Al Qaeda

    What role do women play in Al Qaeda? A few are suicide bombers; others may encourage their men to become one.
  • Iran Has Made Hostage-Taking a Diplomatic Tool

    The Tehran regime, which has elevated hostage-taking to a tool of diplomacy, defies the laws of God and man. So how can it be trusted to keep its word about nuclear weapons?
  • Sarkozy's Obama Obsession

    Facing down Iran, French president Nicolas Sarkozy stood shoulder to shoulder with President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown in Pittsburgh last week. Or so it might be said. The statements of all three were consistent as they denounced the Islamic Republic's construction of a secret nuclear facility. But in this stage show of solidarity, body language sent a different message. Obama and Brown really did stand side by side. Sarkozy stood apart, looking a little like he'd been asked to stand as best man at a stranger's wedding....
  • Ayatollah Khamenei's Journey

    "They are not going to answer your greeting," begins a poem that Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, knows well, and loved once. "Nobody is going to raise his head to answer a question or to see a friend." The verse was written in the time of the shah, in the 1950s, when Khamenei was a young, idealistic Shia cleric who shared with its hard-drinking author a sense of claustrophobic alienation and deep frustration. "Winter," by Mehdi Akhavan Sales, is about as vivid a metaphor for oppression—externally imposed, but deeply internalized—as you can find:Now, in this summer of 2009 in the overheated air of Tehran's stifling streets, it is Khamenei himself who has come to symbolize for millions of Iranians that cold, hard weight of authority. (Story continued below...)What is unfolding in Iran is no simple confrontation between tyranny and freedom. The protests, wave upon wave of them, have not overturned the regime, nor have they sought to do so. But 30 years after the Islamic...