National Geographic : 2011 Jan
government reportedly paid a large ransom. Since then AQIM has kidnapped six other French citizens. One was executed. At press time ve remained in captivity somewhere in the desert. e marabout and his family disap- peared from their home. Rumor spread that he had been recruited by the One-Eye to be his personal marabout. I emailed David, who was serving in Iraq and is no longer in the Special Forces. He wrote back a few days later. " at time was extremely di cult for me, and it still haunts me." He added, "I haven't forgotten the people I met there, quite the contrary, I think of them o en." I called Aisha and told her that he was still alive. at was months ago. I haven't heard any more from David, but Aisha still calls, asking if there is any news. Sometimes her voice is drowned out by the rumble of the salt trucks; sometimes I hear children playing or the call to prayer. At times Aisha cries on the phone, but I have no answers for the girl from Timbuktu. j Dawn nds boys at a religious school studying the words of the Koran inscribed on their slates. "Reading, writing, and the Koran," says their teacher, echoing ages of Timbuktu scholars, "these are important."