How Pakistan deals with Americans trying to join the Taliban…

There was a revealing moment in the testimony of Zarein Ahmedzay last week in the trial of Abid Naseer. No-one else in the Brooklyn courthouse paid it much heed. But it gave this former Pakistan correspondent an opportunity for a wry smile. Ahmedzay was one of three young American Muslims – two of Pakistani and Afghan extraction and one … More How Pakistan deals with Americans trying to join the Taliban…

Double dribbing with terrorists, or something

You’d think security officials, terrorist experts and American presidents would steer clear of basketball metaphors after that unfortunate WMD slam dunk business. You’d be wrong. Earlier this year Barack Obama had this to say about al-Qaeda’s strength, after senior figures such as Osama bin Laden had been taken out but a number of regional franchises … More Double dribbing with terrorists, or something

On Afrighanistan

Laura Seay – better known to me as @texasinafrica –  has rightly taken issue with simplistic coverage of Mali and comparisons with other conflicts involving Islamist movements: Among the most egregious — and inaccurate — claims about the crisis to emerge is the idea that Mali could become France’s Afghanistan. Apparently based on the understanding … More On Afrighanistan

Bin Laden’s ashtray

A few months ago I met the man who demolished Osama bin Laden’s last hide-out – the three-storey villa in Abbottabad where the al-Qaeda leader was shot in the face at short range. Shakeel Ahmed was selling off the bricks in bulk for building projects or giving away handfuls to souvenir hunters. His yard had … More Bin Laden’s ashtray

Ayman al-Zawahiri

Stuff I’ve been reading since Ayman al-Zawahiri took over as emir of al-Qaeda Zawahiri at the Helm – Lawrence Wright says al-Qaeda will now turn its focus back towards Eygpt, at a crucial time in the country’s history Osama bin Laden a ‘ranting chief executive’ – how the relationship between leader and deputy deteriorated The … More Ayman al-Zawahiri

The Drones Work

Erm, so this is awkward. On Saturday morning The Wall Street Journal runs a story on splits within the US administration over drone strikes, with the American ambassador to Pakistan, Cameron Munter, or his friends, briefing that he is among those wanting a slow-down, to mollify Pakistani anger at the raids… U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan … More The Drones Work