al-Zawahiri calls bin Laden an ascetic, a message to the Muslim poor, youth looking for a hero, a martyr to revere, to keep his war alive.

Shi-e-Khot, Paktia, Afghanistan 1981, Photographer: Ken Guest

Jere Van Dyk added a new photo.
No automatic alt text available.

Gorbachev, 1980s Soviet leader, said (2/26 Independent) that U.S. is fighting what it created. "It's called the historical and political boomerang. The Americans were working in secret with those with whom they are now fighting. They should accept their part of the blame. I think God as some mechanism that he uses to punish those that make mistakes." True, but Soviets were not innocent. (Typos below.)

Gorbechev, former Soviet leader said on 2/26(UK's Independent) that U.S. fighting what it created. "It's called the historical and political boomerang. The Americans were working in secret with those with whom they are not fighting. They should accept their part of the blame. I think God has some mechanism that he uses to pinish those that make mistakes." True. But Soviets were far from innocent.


I wrote what I did because I don't want to take sides too much. I am

trying to reach everyone, not one segment. I agree with you in many

ways, especially about Pakistan and its geopolitical goals. I wrote


about this in my book. But Pakistan did not act alone. As early as 1975 the

U.S. began to supply arms to the Mujahiadeen that Gen. Babar

created in 1973. Zbegniew Brzezinski, President Carter's National Security Advisor,

 has said publicly that the U.S. was trying to draw the USSR into Afghanistan.

The U.S. is guilty here, too. Don't forget I was director of

Friends of Afghanistan in 1984, created by the U.S. and overseen by the NSC and

State Department, and others, and was the guide for the Afghan

Mujahideen Government in Exile in NYC and know that the whole trip was

orchestrated by Pakistan and the U.S. They acted in concert.

As for the Taliban, they have always been a part of

Afghan culture, as you know. They are not a creation of Pakistan, but lived in villages,

conducting prayers, being at marriages and funerals. Pakistan fostured the Taliban

as a fighting force, yes, but not those religious, simple men who

spent their times in the mosques. 

See More

Today is R. Reagan's 100th birthday. Today, Gulbadeen Hekmatyar (GH), former Mujahideen leader of the 1980s war against the Soviet Union, now fighting the U.S., praised the "determination of the believing revolutionaries of Tunisia and Egypt." In 1984, GH, in NYC, refused to meet Reagan, who called the Mujahideen "freedom fighters," a true statement, but GH's idea of freedom is different.

Ayman al-Zawahiri, number two in al-Qaeda, from prominent Cairo family, founded Islamic Jihad (IJ), offshoot of Muslim Brotherhood. Again last week, as he has for years, he called for overthrow of Mubarak. Army soldiers, tied to IJ, assassinated Sadat 10/81, bringing Mubarak to power. What power, if any, does IJ, underground, have today in Army? We will see.

As Egypt burns think of Afghanistan. There is a link, the Muslim Brotherhood (MB), founded in Egypt, largest Islamist party in world. It may play a big role in weeks ahead. MB began as moral and political force against colonialism. Mujahideen leaders brought its ideas to Afghanistan. The MB is tied to political religious parties in Pakistan, which, with the military, back the T and, many feel, al-Qaeda.

Some have commented on Joanne Herring. Here is a photo of Charlie Wilson, of the movie, talking with fondness, respect and awe at the force of her personality. Movie's director Mike Nichols is between us. Charlie said that Haqqani, then a Mujahideen leader fighting the Russians, was "goodness personified." Haqqani was good to me, too, then. Today he is the most lethal Taliban leader.

No automatic alt text available.

War update: U.S. sending in 1,400 Marines, adding to 97,000 U.S. troops in A; add to this the 45,000 from allies, 200,000 Afghan National Army and police, against, according to NATO, 25,000 Taliban. That is 12:1. In Vietnam it was 4-5:1. Report that Petraeus told Holbrooke the Taliban matching U.S. "surge for surge" and that tactics becoming more sophisticated.

Story in Financial Times Weekend Magazine (12/18) of book. Trying to find interview in FhM, a Brit "laddie" magazine out this month. War update: US deaths in 2010 higher than 08 and 09 combined; civilian casualties up 20%. GOP Sen. Lindsay Graham, USAF reservce, says US should have permanent USAF bases in A. U.S., in sprite of public talk, is not leaving A. War to continue.

‘I was held prisoner by the Taliban’

News that Joanne Herring, played by Julia Roberts in "Charlie Wilson's War," recently met with Bush Sr., Adm. Mullens, etc., even hosted a dinner for former Pakistani general Musharraf, all to promote her Marshall Plan for Afghanistan. She, and Greg Mortinson, of Three Cups of Tea, to work together. She is 81. CW, on the set, would shake his head in admiration, talking about her.

Mustafa Hamed, said to be head of Taliban media, once close (and maybe still) to bin Laden, said in his blog that OBL has lost control of al-Qaeda, that he made mistake by allowing other groups in under a-Q's umbrella, its leaders are dead, in prison or gone, that a-Q's message has been diluted and lost. OBL would like to disband a-Q, but would hurt overall war. Fascinating, but but hard to know truth.

Daily Times, of Lahore, yesterday reported that FBI and Pakistani police captured Adam Gadahn, the American al-Qaeda member, in Karachi, last month. No one knows if true. No mention in the Urdu press, which leads English-language papers like Daily Times. Paper lsaid police had captured aide to Ayman al-Zawahiri, number two in a-Q. All quite impossible to believe. It is all, as usual, murky.

Biden said (12/19) "Our overarching goal is to...defeat al-Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan," ..."al-Qaeda's goal is to bring down Pakistan." Note: he never mentioned Taliban. US denying NY Times story that it may send forces into Pakistan. Its ambassador said "We will not accept foreign troops on our soil." This "soil" is the "tribal areas" which Afghanistan also claims. This is at the heart of the war.

A number of us, old and new Afghan hands, signed an open letter to President Obama. It ran in the Guardian. My goal: To end war and decouple T from their Pakistani backers. It can be done. When I was in A in the 1970s, there was no militancy. I have, in recent days, taken my name off letter. Seen by some as defeatist. Hardly. But don't want people to think this. Better to go my own way.

Open letter: A group of experts and fieldworkers call on President Obama to explore a political settlement that includes the Taliban