sidon lebanon

Copy of golden head - lion helmet of Alexander the Great as it is depicted at the sarcophagus of Sidon in Lebanon.

Αντίγραφο της περικεφαλαίας με τη χρυσή κεφαλή λιονταριού του Μεγάλου Αλεξάνδρου, όπως απεικονίζεται στην σαρκοφάγο της Σιδώνας στο Λίβανο.

Want some candy?

A gunman from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine distributes sweets in the Palestinian refugee camp of Ein el-Hilweh near Sidon, Lebanon, Tuesday, Nov. 18, 2014, to celebrate an attack on a synagogue in Jerusalem. Two Palestinian cousins armed with meat cleavers and a gun stormed a Jerusalem synagogue during morning prayers killing four people in the city’s bloodiest attack in years. Police killed the attackers in a shootout. (AP Photo/Mohammed Zaatari)

Last year, Rukmini Callimachi found thousands of al-Qaida documents in Timbuktu in northern Mali when she was the West Africa bureau chief for the Associated Press.

Al-Qaida left behind the pages just after a French-led military intervention drove the jihadi fighters out of the area, where they had imposed a harsh version of Islamic law. The documents include directives and letters from al-Qaida commanders.

In the interview, Callimachi tells Terry Gross about al-Qaida’s highly detailed record-keeping:

“When I came back with these receipts, and we started translating them, these thousands and thousands of receipts for things like onions and a kilo of tomatoes and a receipt for a 60-cent piece of cake that somebody ate — it made us laugh. And I guess it made us laugh because we assumed that terrorists are these bad guys with guns — and violent, et cetera — and we have assumed that’s divorced from these bureaucratic procedures that we see at play here.

In fact, people that have covered al-Qaida and studied the group longer than me, say they’ve found the exact same thing in Afghanistan. It’s partly the DNA of Osama bin Laden, who started out life as a businessman. He was the son of a very wealthy entrepreneur, and he started out as a young man trying to run his own companies. … Even when he ran his own companies, he was obsessed with bureaucracy. People that worked for him in Sidon [in Lebanon] remember having to turn in triplicate receipts with carbon copies for things like replacing bicycle tires or car tires.”

Photo: A road sign written by Islamist rebels is seen at the entrance into Timbuktu January 31, 2013. File photo
Image by: BENOIT TESSIER / REUTERS

Sign says, “Timbuktu is founded on Islam and will be judged by Islamic Laws (Charia)”