The Lion’s Den – Reporting on Islamic Extremists

Islamic Extremists

Recently, CNN  reported on the Rebel fighters in Aleppo, Syria and their duel fight with Bashar al-Assad’s regime forces and ISIS.  The fighters shared with reporters the destruction and fear ISIS has brought to their city, and how they see ISIS as a perversion of their faith.  Parallels can be drawn with the plight of the people of Gao, Mali, West Africa caught between the jihadists and the Malian Government.  In my novel, The Lion’s Den, due for publication in April 2015, American journalist Brent Marshall was in Gao to report on the assassination of the Gao vice consul, Tahar Touati.  In this excerpt, he is taken on tour of the capital city’s town square to view first hand the destruction caused by the Tuareg Rebellion.  It is heartbreaking to hear of the toll  taken not only on the lives of the people of the region, but also on those brave souls who go there to tell their stories, often losing their own lives in the process.

The Lions Den

Brent had spent some time in Gao, speaking to the locals about the battle fought between the jihadists and the Malian government.  They had taken him to the dusty parade ground that had passed for Gao’s main square.  He had viewed the mounds of gray-black ash where the Islamists had burned the townspeople’s CD’s, cell phones, televisions and all of their cigarettes, which were symbols of the immoral and unhealthy western influence on Muslim culture.  He was shown a concrete pillar gouged with machete blows and stained with blood, where they had cut off the hands of children who had been caught thieving.  Brent had asked them how they felt about this, and they had shrugged, saying “they were just thieves, bad boys.”  At least under the Tuareg rule, the raping of women and children and the looting of shops and houses had been stopped.  You might get flogged for smoking a cigarette, but at least the jihadists could restore order, even if it was order without compromise.

A group of Gao patrollers, loyal to the Malian government had taken him to a nursery school filled with munitions they’d found hidden in a safe house, just around the corner.  The patrollers had opened a crate filled with Russian missiles and told him that supplies like this were stockpiled in houses all around the city, waiting for the infiltrators to use against the occupiers, while innocent children played  in their schoolyards

Brent wondered if peace would ever be possible between the people of this region.  There was so much hatred between the religious and secular groups.  There was little room for compromise and such effort put into trying to bend the people to the Islamist’s will through the use of violence and terror which, ironically, Islam categorically forbid.  The Prophet Muhammad, had demonstrated a life of patience in the face of insults and persecution–even forgiving those who previously attempted to assassinate his person.  How then, could violence be the means to bring about peace?


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