WASHINGTON — As the uprising closed in around him, the Libyan dictator Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi
warned that if he fell, chaos and holy war would overtake North Africa.
“Bin Laden’s people would come to impose ransoms by land and sea,” he
told reporters. “We will go back to the time of Redbeard, of pirates, of
Ottomans imposing ransoms on boats.”
In recent days, that unhinged prophecy has acquired a grim new currency. In Mali, French paratroopers arrived this month to battle an advancing force of jihadi fighters who already control an area twice the size of Germany. In Algeria, a one-eyed Islamist bandit organized the brazen takeover of an international gas facility, taking hostages that included more than 40 Americans and Europeans.
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