- By David KennerDavid Kenner is the Middle East editor at Foreign Policy. He is based in Beirut, Lebanon, and has been with FP since 2009 (a long time, he knows). He worked for FP previously in Cairo, where he covered the early days of the Arab Spring, and before that in Washington. He has attended Georgetown University and the American University of Beirut and has reported from Libya, Egypt, Gaza, Turkey, Lebanon, and Iraq.
CAIRO — Next to the U.S. embassy in Cairo is the longest continuous sit-in in Egypt — in support of Omar Abdel-Rahman, known as the "Blind Sheikh," who is currently serving a life sentence in North Carolina on charges of conspiring to commit terrorist attacks against the United States. The demonstration is no more than a slew of posters and three men — one of whom, a smiling man in an olive galabeya, is the blind Sheikh’s son, Abdullah Omar Abdel-Rahman.
While many Egyptians grudgingly support Obama over his Republican challenger, no endorsement is forthcoming from the blind sheikh’s son. "[Egyptians] think Obama is a sweet talker — but he puts poison in honey," he says. "Let us remember that it was during Obama’s time [in office] that Osama bin Laden was killed."
Obama’s efforts to tout the killing of the al Qaeda chief as his signature foreign policy accomplishment, evidently, did not go down well in this small corner of Cairo. To hear the son tell it, Americans should pull the lever for the candidate more likely to protect their lives from the Islamic community incensed at a litany of international outrages committed by the United States.
"A scholar has called for kidnapping Americans [to trade for Abdel-Rahman’s release], but we have always been peaceful," he says, smiling as he delivers the veiled threat. "But we can’t control the whole Arab world, and we want America to avoid such a thing from happening. But if it happened it would be Obama’s fault."
We’ll put him down as undecided.