I’m a grade 8 teacher. The curriculum in Social Studies includes a unit on the Renaissance – the rebirth of Western Europe’s science, math, art, architecture, law, freedoms and thinking that lead to the age of exploration and forms the basis for ‘Western’ thinking that North America continues to operate under today.
One of the keys to the birth of the Renaissance was the Black Death – or Bubonic Plague. It killed so many Europeans (some historians estimate up to 40% of them) that the feudal system collapsed and opportunity and wealth were finally possible for regular people creating a middle class that spend time doing things other than work, and had the dollars to buy things other than food.
Now news comes that this same ailment is killing al-Qaeda in northern Africa. Security forces (a little cynical of what this means) found a body along the side of a road near a forested area used to train insurgents.
The victim was a terrorist in AQLIM (al-Qaeda in the Land of the Islamic Maghreb), the largest and most powerful al-Qaeda group outside the Middle East. It trains Muslim fighters to kill British and US troops.
Now al-Qaeda chiefs fear the plague has been passed to other terror cells — or Taliban fighters in Afghanistan.
The optimist in me wonders if this is the opportunity these young men have needed to break free from a totalitarian regime, intent on exploiting their youth to attack enemies around the world. Maybe somehow this can weaken an efficient training system.
The conspiracist in me wonders if it was the CIA or others who introduced the rarely seen bug to the camps in the first place.
Either way, rebirth is possible.