An Arabian Night with the Taliban: Invited by a Hezbollah Leader to a Secret Meeting in Kuwait, Insight's Reporter Observes as Osama Bin Laden's Lieutenants Raise Money and Recruit Warriors for Jihad against Infidels. (Reporter's Notebook)(Cover Story)

By Hays, Tony | Insight on the News, November 5, 2001 | Go to article overview

An Arabian Night with the Taliban: Invited by a Hezbollah Leader to a Secret Meeting in Kuwait, Insight's Reporter Observes as Osama Bin Laden's Lieutenants Raise Money and Recruit Warriors for Jihad against Infidels. (Reporter's Notebook)(Cover Story)


Hays, Tony, Insight on the News


The eyes, they were the most telling. Deep within them you could see madness -- quiet, unadulterated madness. Not a chaotic, irrational lunacy but something deeper, harder, blacker than that. It was a madness born of fanaticism; a madness devoid of emotion.

I was in a hotel room in Kuwait City in the spring of 1997, surrounded by young Kuwaitis and a handful of older locals who opposed what they considered the decadence of Sheik Jabir al-Ahmad al-Jabir al-Sabah, the emir of Kuwait. They looked normal in their immaculate dishdashas (robes), but the madness emanated from their visitors. These were five young men, each with a scraggly beard and wearing either a solid black or solid white turban reminiscent of Iran's febrile Ayatollah Khomeini. They were leaders of the Taliban of Afghanistan, a sect of fanatical Muslims waging a guerrilla war for control of that country. These were fund-raisers, eager to fill their coffers from oil-rich Kuwaitis.

My elementary Arabic was supplemented by almost simultaneous translation from my Kuwaiti host as a Taliban leader said, "The Holy Koran demands the jihad -- holy war -- and it is the responsibility of Muslims everywhere to serve by fighting and by giving their money. Remember that one of the pillars of Islam is tithing. Our country has fought the infidels for hundreds of years and it costs much. We need your help."

The first thought that crossed my mind was, "How did I get here?" It had started out as just something to do in an otherwise boring place. Kuwait is long on restaurants and beaches and very short on entertainment. Western movies often are cut so deeply by Islamic censors that the entire plot is lost. I think the censored version of Basic Instinct lasted 15 minutes. But I was working there for an American nonprofit and a Kuwaiti friend, prominent in local politics and a political commentator, had invited me to this Taliban fund-raiser at one of Kuwait City's hundreds of nondescript hotels. More modern digs wouldn't have matched the Taliban's severe demeanor. In any case, the affair seemed to offer a better-than-average evening out in Kuwait.

Dripping with naivete, I didn't know much about the Taliban, but their crusade to take over Afghanistan was making something of a splash and I thought it might be interesting.

Certainly I knew that the Taliban were among the most fundamentalist of Muslims, and I was told that in Pashtu the word "taliban" means student. These Taliban were students of the most strict interpretation of the Koran.

A young man I recognized from Kuwait University met us at the door. He eyed me gravely, but since I was with a prominent member of Kuwait Hezbollah I was admitted, though not without causing every one of the 25 or so heads in the room to turn.

The reference to Kuwait Hezbollah deserves further explanation. As early as 1997, U.S. intelligence agencies in Kuwait were monitoring the activities of a group of men considered to be leaders of that group. Among them were Hassan Johar, an outspoken critic of the United States and a former member of the Kuwaiti Parliament, and Abdulmohsen Jamal, a current member of Parliament and a respected newspaper columnist given high marks by the U.S. Information Agency but considered by U.S. intelligence to be Kuwait Hezbollah's "political conscience" whatever that may mean.

I knew Jamal well, having been his English tutor for some time. One of his requests was that I better prepare him to debate Iraqi officials in English on the BBC, and so we had discussed politics, Islam, Afghanistan, Iraq and a myriad of other topics. We often ate dinner together at Iranian restaurants, as Johar and Jamal (and most of Kuwait Hezbollah as I later learned) were Kuwaitis of Iranian heritage.

I found Jamal a charming conversationalist with an inquisitive mind, but he had an obvious bias in favor of the Taliban and the Iranians. He seemed a peaceful enough man and took pains to make clear that he was committed to negotiation and regarded war as folly. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

An Arabian Night with the Taliban: Invited by a Hezbollah Leader to a Secret Meeting in Kuwait, Insight's Reporter Observes as Osama Bin Laden's Lieutenants Raise Money and Recruit Warriors for Jihad against Infidels. (Reporter's Notebook)(Cover Story)
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.