Sami Yousafzai

The Rise of Jihadistan

In Ghazni province's Andar district, just over a two-hour trip from the capital on the main southern highway, a thin young man, dressed in brown and wearing a white prayer cap, stands by the roadside waiting for two NEWSWEEK correspondents.

A War on Schoolgirls

Summer vacation has only begun, but as far as 12-year-old Nooria is concerned, the best thing is knowing she has a school to go back to in the fall. She couldn't be sure the place would stay open four months ago, after the Taliban tried to burn it down.

A Violent Wake-Up Call

Urbane, dapper hamid karzai has always come off well in the international spotlight. But the Afghan president looked decidedly uncomfortable last week as he addressed his own nation following a riot in Kabul on May 29--triggered by a deadly traffic accident between a U.S. military convoy and civilian vehicles that killed seven people.

A Friend in Need

Even with all the troubles that followed, Mohammad Gulab says he's still glad he saved the U.S. Navy SEAL. "I have no regrets for what I did," the 32-year-old Afghan told NEWSWEEK recently. "I'm proud of my action." Nevertheless, he says, "I never imagined I would pay such a price." Last June, foraging for edible plants in the forest near his home in the Kunar-province village of Sabray, Gulab discovered a wounded commando, the lone survivor of a four-man squad that had been caught in a Taliban...

A Risky Feud

Summit meetings are meant to improve relations. But two recent high-level confabs--one in February between Afghan President Hamid Karzai and his Pakistani counterpart, Pervez Musharraf, and the other U.S. President George W.

A Harvest Of Treachery

In the privacy of his sparsely furnished house in Kabul, a veteran Afghan Interior Ministry official says the situation may already be hopeless. Although he has no authorization to speak with the press, and he could be in personal danger if his identity became known, he's nevertheless too worried to keep silent. "We are losing the fight against drug traffickers," he says. "If we don't crack down on these guys soon, it won't be long until they're in control of everything."His pessimism is...

Unholy Allies

At sundown, the most- wanted man in Ghazni province comes roaring down a country road astride his motorcycle. Mohammed Daud, 35, commands the biggest Taliban force in this area roughly 100 miles southwest of Kabul.


Hardly anyone was more surprised by Iraq's insurgency than Osama bin Laden. The terrorist chief had never foreseen its sudden, ferocious spread, and he was likewise unprepared for the abrupt rise of its most homicidal commander, Abu Mussab al-Zarqawi.


Eight million Afghan men and women braved Taliban threats and bad weather to cast their ballots during Afghanistan's first free presidential election this fall.


Surrounded by a bevy of bodyguards, U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad quickly strode out of the house of Afghan presidential candidate Yunus Qanooni and through a gaggle of journalists waiting outside. "The real show is inside," said the impeccably dressed, Afghan-born envoy as he rushed to his armored car last week, after the country's first post-Taliban presidential election.


During the reign of the Taliban, when movies, music, television and women's education were banned, Roya Sadat wanted to be a filmmaker. She wrote scripts, and studied books on drama and moviemaking that had been smuggled in from neighboring Iran. "I always had hope that change would come one day," says Sadat, 23.

'We Don't Recognize The Results'

Even before the polling booths closed in Afghanistan's first-ever direct presidential election, all 15 candidates running against incumbent Hamid Karzai denounced the election as a fraud and refused to recognize the results.The resulting turmoil bewildered the millions of Afghan voters, most of whom were casting their first ballots ever.


It's easy to spot where the secret negotiations are taking place in Kabul. Look for heavily armed men in camouflage fatigues blocking traffic, or for armadas of luxury four-by-fours with tinted windows double-parked.

The Harder Hunt For Bin Laden

Outwardly, Osama bin Laden's protectors in the mountains of Afghanistan and Pakistan affect a haughty unconcern. Taliban fighters in Pakistan, interviewed last week, laughed at the spectacle of a disheveled and down-and-out Saddam Hussein getting hoisted out of his hole, utterly abandoned by aides and bodyguards who once pledged to die for him.Taliban fighters hiding in plain sight in Pakistan say this will never be the fate of bin Laden, his deputy Ayman Al-Zawahiri or Mullah Mohammed Omar,...

Holy War 101

Abdul Bari's school day begins at 4 a.m. The freckle-faced, outgoing 9-year-old, an Afghan poppy farmer's son, wakes up on the tile floor he shares with four dozen other students at the Jamia Uloom Islamia religious academy, in the untamed mountains of Pakistan's tribal areas.

Rumors Of Bin Laden's Lair

Gray-bearded and almost toothless, Khan Kaka lives in a mud house with a weather-beaten pine door beside a little plot of corn and vegetables. But to his neighbors in this corner of Afghanistan's remote Kunar province, the gangling, tobacco-chewing old man is one of the most respected figures in the Pech River valley.