On November 20, 1979, worldwide attention was focused on Tehran, where the Iranian hostage crisis was entering its third week. That same morning, gunmen stunned the world by seizing the Grand Mosque in Mecca, creating a siege that trapped 100,000 people and lasted two weeks, inflaming Muslim rage against the United States and causing hundreds of deaths. But in the days before CNN and Al Jazeera, the press barely took notice. Trofimov interviews for the first time scores of direct participants in the siege, and draws upon hundreds of newly declassified documents. With the pacing, detail, and suspense of a real-life thriller, The Siege of Mecca reveals the long-lasting aftereffects of the uprising and its influence on the world today.
Drawing on reporting from more than a dozen Islamic countries, Faith at War offers an unforgettable portrait of the Muslim world after September 11. Choosing to invert the question of what "they" have done to "us," Wall Street Journal reporter Yaroslav Trofimov examines the unprecedented American intrusion in the Muslim heartland and the ripples it has caused far beyond the battlefields of Afghanistan and Iraq. What emerges is a penetrating portrait of people, faith, and countries better known in caricature than reported detail. The ordinary Muslims, influential clerics, warlords, jihadis, intellectuals and heads of state we meet are engaged in conversations that reveal the Muslim world to us from a new, unexpected perspective.
In Mali, one of the most successful democracies in Africa, we encounter Ousmane Madani Haidara, an influential cleric who sees Wahhabi extremists, rather than his country's secular government, as the real enemy of the true faith. In Saudi Arabia, we explore the bizarre world of exporting dead bodies from a kingdom that bars the burial of non-Muslims. On a US Navy aircraft carrier floating just off the coast of Pakistan in October 2001, we witness the mechanics of war: the onboard assembly of bombs that, hours later, are seen on T.V. exploding in Kabul. And in Iraq, we accompany Trofimov as he negotiates his escape from an insurgent mob, rides in a Humvee with trigger-happy GIs, and gets lectured by a Shiite holy man on why America is the foe of mankind.
Whether exploring the badlands of the Sahara or a snow-covered village of Bosnian mujahedeen, Faith at War helps us understand the hidden relationships and often surprising connections, so crucial to America's future, that link the Islamic world to our own.