Bernard-Henri Levy's _Who Killed Daniel Pearl?_ (Melville, 2003) was a fascinating read. Hovering between novel and travelogue, police blotter and literature, Levy tracks the assassins of Daniel Pearl, the Wall Street Journal reporter killed 31 January 2002. Levy's thesis is certainly controversial: that the mastermind of the assassination, Omar Sheikh, was closely linked with Al Quaeda, and that Al Quaeda is closely linked with the intelligence agencies ("the services") of Pakistan--meaning that a country that appears to be an ally of the US's "war on terror" might in fact be an official sponsor of 9/11.
I'll abstain from evaluating this thesis. What I found most interesting--beyond Levy's methodology--was his close analysis of the transformation of Omar Sheikh from a model British prep-school student and economics major at the London School of Economics into a kind of al Quaeda quasi-operative. The turning point, as Levy recounts it, was Bosnia. The injustices of Bosnia posed for Omar a first sense of the tension between being European and being Muslim: "In other words, we can assume that this sudden consciousness of a world where it's a crime to be a Muslim, and where another destiny seems possible for European Islam, profoundly shakes the happy Englishman he was. Here, without the shadow of a doubt, is a model student, an Englishman, a cosmopolitan adolescent who, everything seems to indicate, has never thought that this belonging to the world of Islam and to that of the West were in the least bit contradictory, and who topples over the edge into madness in a very precise place" (p. 127).
Could there be similar tensions between being an American and being a Christian?