Wanted Women:
Faith, Lies, and the War on Terror: The Lives of Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Aafia Siddiqui

Deborah Scroggins. Harper, $25.99 (464p) ISBN 978-0-06-089897-7

For Scroggins (Emma’s War), two women who, despite a “weird symmetry” in their lives, embody the split among Muslims regarding the West and the war on terror. Ayaan Hirsi Ali “fights only with words” against Islam, calling it a “destructive, nihilistic cult of death,” while there are numerous indicators that Aafia Siddiqui was preparing for a mass attack on America and the “enemies of Islam.” on the scale of 9/11. Somali-born Hirsi Ali, saying she was fleeing a forced marriage, sought asylum in Holland in 1992. Siddiqui came from a middle-class Pakistani family before moving to America to study at MIT and Brandeis, becoming a fanatical proponent of jihad. In Holland, Hirsi Ali joined Parliament and emerged as one of Islam’s harshest critics, which has gained her both admirers and enemies who threaten her life. Siddiqui traveled in the same circles as 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, and became the most wanted woman in the world; she disappeared for four years before being arrested in 2008. Scroggins illuminates not only the disconnect between the West’s often one-dimensional perception of Islam and its multifaceted reality but the schisms within Islam itself. This meticulously researched, skillfully narrated account offers a nuanced look at political Islam and the “war on terror” through the eyes of two women on the front lines. (Jan.)

Reviewed on: 09/26/2011