Why I became a jihadist poetry critic

Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula Bookmobile

Osama bin Laden shared an unlikely interest with many other jihadists – writing verse. These poems might not win any literary prizes, but Elisabeth Kendall is fascinated by them. Could they help in the fight against extremism?

Back in the late 80s, Kendall decided to study Arabic at university. An Egyptian writer, Naguib Mahfouz, had just won the Nobel Prize for Literature and Kendall was annoyed how difficult it was to find any of his books in translation. Learning Arabic was apparently the only way to find out if he was good or not.

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