How al Qaeda claimed the legendary city.
I sat with a local teacher named Issaka and a businessman named Mohammed atop the small guesthouse Mohammed owned on the outskirts of the city, just a stone's throw from the rolling dunes that mark the southern edge of the Sahara.
Deep into the night we huddled against the desert chill wrapped in quilts, listening to the reports on French radio, discussing politics, and drinking glasses of steaming mint tea dutifully served by Mohammed's ten-year-old nephew Akbar.
To my great surprise, I found Timbuktu, the ancient city in northern Mali whose name is synonymous with the back of beyond, gripped with Obama fever. As I walked through the markets and visited local mosques, several men stopped me to ask if I was American and