19 June, 2021

Notes From The Dying

The hunter mirrors the hunted, and the state is the fall guy in this book bursting with terror’s marginalia

Tribhuvan Tiwari
Notes From The Dying

In his new book, Amitava Kumar makes his intention plain: “presenting the anti-terrorism state as the biggest bungler”. What follows is an idiosyncratic ramble through what used to be called the war on terror. It is part reportage, part extended art review, part political polemic, but all of it comes from a leftist perspective, one that views the police and military as innately untrustworthy, American foreign policy as trigger-happy, and Muslims, including many of those directly implicated in terrorism, first and foremost as victims.

At the heart of the book lie two fascinating stories. The first is of Hemant Lakhani, a Gujarati businessman in prison for selling what he thought was a shoulder-fired missile to an undercover FBI agent posing as a go-between for a fictitious Somali terrorist group. The second is the tale of Shahawar Matin Siraj, a 24-year-old Pakistani immigrant serving a 30-year sentence for conspiring to bomb a New York subway station.

In between these two markers, Kumar ranges widely for fuel to feed a...

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