I've been re-watching Adam Curtis' documentary from 2005, "The power of nightmares". It really is superb stuff. I just want to jot down some observations, and am not giving them any structure to speak of.
It's interesting how both Iran and Egypt during the late 70s had "modernising" leaders (Sadat and the last Shah) who had strong links to the West, were considered corrupt by many of their people. They were great friends. One was deposed in 1979, then died. The other (Sadat) was of course shot, in 1981.
Their situations were slightly different, of course. The Shah didn't have enough support from the Shi'a clergy in his country, which became an Islamist state. He introduced women's suffrage in Iran - and look where things are now in that regard.
Adam Curtis focuses much on Ayman al-Zawahiri a good deal. al-Zawahiri was an Islamist who hoped to replicate the same revolution in his own country, he was part of the movement containing the cell that assassinated Sadat.
Sadat had moved first and imprisoned many from the movement before his death. The revolution al-Zawahiri was hoping for didn't happen, the streets stayed calm and the regime stayed in place. Sadat's right hand man Hosni Mubarak took charge and ruled from 1981 till a few weeks ago. On the other hand, no one Egyptian really turned up to Sadat's funeral either (plenty of ex-US presidents and other western leaders showed up, by contrast)
Al-Zawahiri, it seems used to follow the logic that if a muslim didn't follow his views, they were not proper muslims, and could therefore justifiably be killed. The documentary states that, indeed, he thought this killing would be a noble one. In his later Al-Qaeda days he claimed did not kill "innocents" though of course what his definition of "innocents" might have been could be open to subtle changes...
I read recently (can't remember the source, sorry - so a pinch of salt needed with this) that in this new Arab Spring, it would be bad for the West if Egypt and Iran were friends and allies now, but apparently that is far from being the case.