Al-Shihri Redux (With apologies to Trollope)

Most people will probably find the confirmation that another former Guantanamo detainee, Yusif al-Shihri, has rejoined al-Qaeda the most interesting part of this story, but for me the most fascinating part is what the travel of Said al-Shihri's wife to Yemen tells us about the current situation in Yemen as well as Saudi's counter-terrorism strategy. Both men are on Saudi's list of 85 suspects.

The story (here in English, I haven't had a chance to find the original Arabic from 'Ukaz, but I'll look when I have a chance) revolves around one man's attempt to get his 10-year-old son back after he traveled to Yemen with his mother, who is also Said al-Shihri's wife.

The last issue of Sada al-Malahim told us that al-Shihri's wife and children had joined him in Yemen, this story confirms that (although I had never really doubted it). Combined with the statement about al-'Awfi, I think this tells us two things.

First, Saudi's counter-terrorism strategy at least when it comes to recidivism is much more draconian than many in the US think. I believe that if what Saudi Arabia did to convince al-'Awfi to turn himself in ever came to light, US policy makers would be forced to back away from all talk of sending more prisoners to Saudi - the public outcry would just be too great. I attempted to get a few editors and reporters interested in this story, but I seemed to have failed to convince them exactly how revolutionary al-'Awfi's surrender was and the sort of changes in Saudi tactics it represented. Apparently, I'm not as convincing as I sometime imagine myself to be.

Second, I think this is an indication of how much space and comfort al-Qaeda in Yemen has - the fact that al-Shihri would bring his wife and kids to Yemen rather than leave them in Saudi Arabia, regardless of the threats of collective punishment. Inevitably, some will see this as evidence that AQ is in cahoots with Yemen's security services, which I do not believe to be the case. Rather, I think this shows us that AQ does not feel itself directly threatened in Yemen and that is has a significant amount of freedom of movement, largely because the Yemeni government is distracted with other crises, as I have argued elsewhere.

A dark matter hurricane is crashing into Earth

Giving our solar system a "slap in the face"

Surprising Science
  • A stream of galactic debris is hurtling at us, pulling dark matter along with it
  • It's traveling so quickly it's been described as a hurricane of dark matter
  • Scientists are excited to set their particle detectors at the onslffaught
Keep reading Show less

Are we all multiple personalities of universal consciousness?

Bernardo Kastrup proposes a new ontology he calls “idealism” built on panpsychism, the idea that everything in the universe contains consciousness. He solves problems with this philosophy by adding a new suggestion: The universal mind has dissociative identity disorder.

We’re all one mind in "idealism." (Credit: Alex Grey)
Mind & Brain

There’s a reason they call it the “hard problem.” Consciousness: Where is it? What is it? No one single perspective seems to be able to answer all the questions we have about consciousness. Now Bernardo Kastrup thinks he’s found one. He calls his ontology idealism, and according to idealism, all of us and all we perceive are manifestations of something very much like a cosmic-scale dissociative identity disorder (DID). He suggests there’s an all-encompassing universe-wide consciousness, it has multiple personalities, and we’re them.

Keep reading Show less

California wildfires death toll climbs to 50

Firefighters in California are still struggling to contain several wildfires nearly one week after they broke out.

(Photo by Elijah Nouvelage/Getty Images)
Politics & Current Affairs
  • Hundreds of people are still missing after three wildfires spread across Northern and Southern California last week.
  • 48 of the 50 deaths occurred after the Camp Fire blazed through the town of Paradise, north of Sacramento.
  • On Tuesday night, a fourth wildfire broke out, though it's mostly contained.
Keep reading Show less