It’s from a week ago, but Steve Coll’s look at Umar Abdulmutallab’s biography is worth reading:
Abdulmutallab appears cut from the now-familiar cloth of transnational Islamic violence: As the analyst Marc Sageman once formulated it, the biography is one of dislocation and radicalization that often seems to involve a young man who is raised in country A, becomes radicalized in country B, and then decides to attack country C, with “C” often (but not always) being the United States. Here we also have the elements of economic privilege and globe-crossing travel familiar from the biographies of Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri, Al Qaeda’s two senior leaders, who by now have reached that state of advanced middle-age in which they can no longer be expected to remember their period of teenage radicalization and early violence very accurately.
Reuters says, “There is no doubt that 2010 is going to be a big year for Africa.The question is whether in a year’s time we’ll be looking back and saying it was big in the right ways.”
US Special Envoy to Sudan Scott Gration writes of Sudan in 2010, “The road ahead will be tough and beset by numerous and seemingly insurmountable challenges. But in the face of these trials, we will work with steadfast determination with the parties to reach positive agreements followed up by verifiable implementation.”
For his part, Alex de Waal explores the meaning of Sudan’s fifty-fourth anniversary of its independence.
Owen Barder mocks “universal cynics” in the aid field.
Last but not least, check out this piece on a film school in Kenya, complete with some short films.