Graeme Wood

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The Fakir of Ipi

Originally appeared in The Daily.

They don’t make Pakistani safe houses like they used to.

Contrary to popular opinion, the most successful fugitive jihadist that Pakistan has ever known was not shot through the eye by a Navy SEAL over the weekend. He died peacefully, surrounded by friends and admirers in his home district of Waziristan, on April 16, 1960, when Osama bin Laden was still a 3-year-old brat in Saudi Arabia. Mirza Ali Khan — known to the British as the Fakir of Ipi — evaded a 12-year manhunt, then basked for another 13 years in the warm glow of victory. If bin Laden had studied up on the Fakir’s evasion techniques, he might have lasted a few years longer. Read the rest of this entry »

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The Taliban Shuffle

Originally appeared in The National.

There are writers, and I am one of them, who believe that no book can be serious if it cannot also make you laugh. Permanent sobriety is no more trustworthy than permanent buffoonery. Why trust an author to tell you what’s grave and terrible when that same author seems to think everything is grave and terrible? Some critics may object that there is no comedy in places like Afghanistan and Pakistan. These are exactly the people one can safely disregard.

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