When Abdullah Mando flew to Montreal in 2004, he promised himself he would one day return to Jeddah. No one believed him: he was on his way to Concordia University to study film production, and going back to Saudi Arabia, where there aren’t any cinemas, seemed absurd. He grew up watching bootleg copies of Western movies, but ‘American films didn’t speak to me,’ he says. ‘They didn’t ask questions young Saudi people were asking.’ And so, along with Anmar Fatheldeen and Omar Murad, Mando set up UTURN Entertainment, an online television network.
‘When a Muslim land is attacked,’ Roshonara Choudhry told the police, ‘it becomes obligatory on every man, woman, and child and even slave to go out and fight and defend the land.’ Iraq had been attacked; Choudhry, under the influence of Anwar Awlaki’s teachings, believed it was her religious duty to do away with Stephen Timms MP. But why Timms? the police wondered. ‘I’m just one person and I did what I could,’ Choudhry said. The police accepted this explanation. What they found harder to accept, however, was her insistence that she had acted alone. They asked her who she went to with questions or for advice. ‘I don't ask anyone,’ she replied. ‘There's no one to ask.’ Instead, she had downloaded ‘over a hundred hours’ of Awlaki’s lectures. She also watched a lot of conversion narratives on YouTube. ‘I thought their life stories were interesting,’ she said. As a student at Abu Noor, a mosque academy in Damascus, I took part in videos of this kind.