Abdul Zaeef describes growing up in poverty in rural Kandahar province, which he fled for Pakistan after the Russian invasion of 1979. Zaeef joined the jihad in 1983, was seriously wounded in several encounters and met many leading figures of the resistance, including the current Taliban head, Mullah Mohammad Omar. Disgusted by the lawlessness that ensued after the Soviet withdrawal, Zaeef was one among the former mujahidin who were closely involved in the emergence of the Taliban, in 1994. He then details his Taliban career, including negotiations with Ahmed Shah Massoud and role as ambassador to Pakistan during 9/11. In early 2002 Zaeef was handed over to American forces in Islamabad and spent four and a half years in prison in Bagram and Guantanamo before being released without charge. My Life with the Taliban offers insights into the Pashtun village communities that are the Taliban's bedrock and helps to explain what drives men like Zaeef to take up arms against the foreigners who are foolish enough to invade his homeland.
Publisher: C Hurst & Co Publishers Ltd
Weight: 431 g
Dimensions: 216 x 138 x 23 mm
'Originally published in Pashto, the language of the Pashtuns, the book has been beautifully translated and extensively edited for easier understanding by Alex Strick van Linschoten and Feliz Kuehn, two researchers who live in Kandahar, the birthplace of the Taliban... Zaeef says he does not believe in al-Qaeda, but speaks as an Afghan patriot with strong Islamist leanings toward the Taliban. Afghanistan, he writes, is a family home in which we all have the right to live...without discrimination and while keeping our values. No one has the right to take this away from us." Can Afghanistan ever be a peaceful home for all Afghans? They certainly deserve it.'
'Contains many sources of fascination, but none are more timely than the author's account of his high-level relations with Pakistani intelligence.'-The New Yorker 'Spies, generals and ambassadors will pounce on this book, poring over its pages for clues to a way out of the Afghan morass.' -Sunday Telegraph 'The first book from inside the Taliban could not be better timed. Abdul Salam Zaeef was one of the founding members of the group and held senior positions within it, ending up as ambassador to Pakistan.'
'A counternarrative to much of what has been written about Afghanistan since 1979... Zaeef offers a particularly interesting discussion of the Taliban's origins and the group's effectiveness in working with locals.'-Foreign Affairs 'Not, perhaps, since the Khmer Rouge, has a movement emerged on the world stage about which so much is opaque to outsiders as the Taliban. Much of that opacity is, of course, intentional. Into this murk Mullah Abdul Salam Zaeef shines some much-needed light with his fascinating memoir as a Taliban insider. By virtue of his role as the Taliban ambassador to Pakistan, Zaeef was privy to the Taliban's decision making in the run up to 9/11 and thereafter. And his story has much to say about the nature of the gathering insurgency that NATO and the United States presently face. If President Obama wanted a window into the thinking of the Taliban today he couldn't do better than this.'
'The only detailed insider account of the Taliban is a memoir by Abdul Salam Zaeef, the movement's former ambassador to Pakistan. Zaeef is no spokesman for Mullah Omar and the Quetta shura. But My Life with the Taliban usefully shows that its leaders saw themselves as nationalists, reformers and liberators rather than Islamist ideologues.'
'The entire world wants to understand the Taliban these days, it seems, as the war in Afghanistan becomes the topic of the moment. Precious few people can tell the inside story of the shadowy movement, however, which makes Zaeef's autobiography an incredibly important book. If your government sends soldiers to Afghanistan, you must read this. By revealing the inner workings of the Taliban from the early days of the movement, Zaeef challenges the accepted wisdom about the insurgency now facing international troops. By the time you're finished reading, you might not sympathize with the Taliban -- but you will know them as people, not monsters.'