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Vol 42 No 19

Published 28th September 2001

Where Usama fits in

Sudan and Saudi Arabia hold the key to the movement blamed for the raid on America

The Islamist international movement, which has suddenly drawn half the world into a major confrontation, has roots in Africa. It was founded in its modern, radical, manifestation as the Muslim Brotherhood (Al Ikhwan al Muslimoon) in 1928 in Egypt by Hassan el Banna, in response to the fall of the Caliphate (in the form of the Ottoman Empire) in 1924. Later, both the United States and British governments used the MB to try to fight communism. The world's only Islamist (in the MB sense) government claiming affiliation to the majority Sunni branch of Islam is that of the National Islamic Front (aka National Congress) in Sudan, which has ruled for over twelve years. This doesn't stop Western officials and media focussing on one man, Usama bin Mohamed bin Laden, the photogenic Saudi Arabian anti-idol protected by Afghanistan's Taliban regime which bans human images as idolatrous.

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