Hotel, Peshawar 1988- They were Arabs who had volunteered to
the Jihad in Afghanistan but always seemed to be hanging around
Peshawar. Walking a fine line between surliness and an officious
politeness, they roamed Peshawar, lecturing local people about
Islam and prayer as if that was needed in Pakistan or
Afghanistan. They barely tolerated westerners. Even though they
were not staying at Green's hotel, they often trooped in, commandeered
the lobby and prayed in a fashion one observer described as "Islamic
Aerobics". Basically purchasing friendships and loyalty,
these early adherents of Osama bin Laden are still very vulnerable.
They behaved in ways that were deeply arrogant and insulting
and can be isolated by public diplomacy and deft private diplomacy.
The fact that they have any home at all in Afghanistan, a country
that has little use for meddling foreigners, is a testament to
the power vacuum that was left behind when the west and the U.S.
in particular basically turned its back on its former friends
in the Mujahedin and began to support the Taliban.