Alex Strick van Linschoten and Felix Kuehn, "The Myth of the Taliban/Al Qaeda Merger in Afghanistan, 1970-2010" (Oxford UP, 2014)


Alex Strick van Linschoten and Felix Kuehn's An Enemy We Created: The Myth of the Taliban/Al Qaeda Merger in Afghanistan, 1970-2010 (Oxford University Press, reprint edition 2014) offers what is in many ways is an untold, insider's account of the birth of the Taliban and Al Qaeda during the anti-Soviet jihad, and their subsequent cooperation (or indeed lack thereof) in the pre- and post-9/11 world. By living first in Kabul, and then Kandahar, Afghanistan, the authors gained more privileged access to individuals involved with Afghan history in the 1980s-2000s than perhaps anyone outside of Western intelligence agencies. By speaking with Taliban officials -- indeed Van Linschoten and Kuehn's previous project was editing the memoirs of Taliban senior official Abdul Salam Zaeef - and former "Afghan Arabs", the authors enriched their research immensely. The result shows in the final product: a nuanced, deeply layered, and meticulously investigative look at a fascinating subject. An Enemy We Createdshould be seen as paradigmatic for future research on militant organizations, and offers up an immense challenge to those experts who would seek to write on such topics from the comfort of Western armchairs."

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