Ethnically, Tuareg describe themselves as white. And they don't look Arab or black. Many Tuareg have light skin, light eyes and sharp angular noses and cheekbones. They are cousins of the Berbers of North Africa. Some legends say the Tuareg are the decedents of an ancient Roman legion that disappeared into the desert two millennia ago.
We know that al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula has some very dangerous, very important leaders who are tied directly to the top leadership of al Qaeda central, including a man who was formerly Osama bin Laden's secretary.
The dangers of an Afghan collapse are many: Afghan deaths, a loss of American prestige, a loss of NATO prestige, a moral blow to U.S. troops and veterans, a Taliban resurgence, huge setbacks for women, and greater power for Pakistan and Pakistani extremists.
'Shabiha' is a difficult word to translate into English. It comes from the word Syrians used to describe the luxury Mercedes favored by the Assad family's operatives that the enforcers of the regime used to move money, smuggle weapons and intimidate opponents.
Insurgencies are easy to make and hard to stop. Only a few ingredients need to combine to create an insurgency; like oxygen and fire, they're very common and mix all too often. The recipe is, simply, a legitimate grievance against a state, a state that refuses to compromise, a quorum of angry people, and access to weapons.
For years, Lebanese have known that Palestinian camps like Nahr al-Barid and Ain al-Helwe - hopeless slums crowded with generations of disenfranchised Palestinian refugees who can't go home because of Israel, and can't work because of Lebanese laws - are awash with gunmen, criminals and, since the war in Iraq, al-Qaida inspired jihadists.
Many senior government officials, CIA, FBI, counter terrorism officials - when they look back at the decade, they effectively conclude that the United States overreacted after 9/11.
Osama bin Laden organized an attack that was carried out against the United States, New York, Pentagon, and the other aircraft, with 19 attackers, 19 guys with box cutters. An attack that probably cost almost nothing.
Shaped like Texas, but twice as big, Mali is one of the poorest countries in the world. It exports almost nothing - mostly just cotton, gold and livestock - and doesn't have enough money to import much of anything, either.
The Syrian border town of Qa'im was the main gateway Islamic radicals used to go to Iraq. Syria became the passageway for extremists from Egypt, Libya, Afghanistan, Yemen, Saudi Arabia and other Muslim nations to fight a jihad against American forces in Iraq.
Egypt is the most populous Arab nation, the seat of Sunni Islamic doctrine, and has tremendous political, religious and social influence on the rest of the region. For better or worse, it will lead the rest of the Middle East by example. So goes Egypt, so goes the region.
The United States encouraged Iraqis to rise up after Saddam Hussein's army was driven out of Kuwait. Washington assumed Saddam was weak after losing the 1991 Gulf War. Iraqis rose up, but Saddam's troops killed thousands - Iraqis say tens of thousands - in a counter-offensive.
In October 2008, American commandos launched a cross-border raid into Syria to capture an Islamic militant known as Abu Ghadiya. He was accused of being one of al Qaeda in Iraq's main smugglers of fighters and money between Iraq and Syria.
On one level, bombing ISIS is easy. The U.S. knows where the group operates. There's no need for a ten-year hunt like the one for Osama bin Laden. The terror group has two capital cities: Mosul in Iraq and Raqqa in Syria. Al-Qaeda never had such an obvious home address.
The Iraqi government will try and retake some of the cities have that been captured by ISIS. That means the Shiite government dropping bombs on civilian areas, on Sunni cities. There will likely be a response with car bombings here in Baghdad, and this could be a long fight.
Mali exists mostly to itself. Few people go there. Few Malians leave. Most of Mali's 13 million people live, and seem to live quite happily, off the rice, corn and millet they grow and the long-horn cattle and goats they keep.
The Muslim Brotherhood, or 'the Brotherhood' for short, is an Islamic group founded in Egypt in 1928. It has been pursuing a secret campaign to take over the government since its creation.
The U.S. invaded the wrong country, destroying an odious government that was not responsible for 9/11. I don't know how you recover from invading the wrong country, no matter how you spin it.
There was an insurgency under President Hosni Mubarak in the 1990s. Egyptian police and soldiers fought weekly battles with Islamists in the sugarcane fields and thick reeds along the Nile in rural southern villages like Minya, Sohag, Enna and Assiout.
Bhutto's regime is remembered for having one of the worst human rights records in Pakistan's history, and her government did not allow the media freedoms she criticizes Musharraf for crushing.