This essay addresses myths about al Qaeda operative Fazul Abdullah Muhammad and their implications for American foreign policy. The essay demonstrates how Fazul's legend mirrors broader genealogies of information that shape contemporary perceptions of terrorism. Fazul orchestrated two major al Qaeda attacks in Kenya, including the 1998 bombing of the U.S. Embassy, but he has also become the object of fantastic speculation—the product of a psychology of fear combined with a popular imagination saturated with the layered syntax of the entertainment industry's imagery. Fazul's myth reveals how, in declaring war on terrorism, we have likewise waged a shadow war against the projections of collective paranoia.
Jeremy Prestholdt; Phantom of the Forever War: Fazul Abdullah Muhammad and the Terrorist Imaginary. Public Culture 1 September 2009; 21 (3): 451–464. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/08992363-2009-003
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