The Most Dangerous Place: Pakistan's Lawless Frontier

Overview

Eight years ago we chased the Taliban from Kabul and forced al-Qaeda to find a new home. One by one the militants crossed the border into Pakistan and settled in its tribal areas, building alliances with locals and terrorizing or bribing their way to power. This place—Pakistan's lawless frontier—is now the epicenter of global terrorism. It is where young American and British jihadists go to be trained, where the kidnapped are stowed away, and where plots are hatched for deadly attacks all over the world. It has ...

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The Most Dangerous Place: Pakistan's Lawless Frontier

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Overview

Eight years ago we chased the Taliban from Kabul and forced al-Qaeda to find a new home. One by one the militants crossed the border into Pakistan and settled in its tribal areas, building alliances with locals and terrorizing or bribing their way to power. This place—Pakistan's lawless frontier—is now the epicenter of global terrorism. It is where young American and British jihadists go to be trained, where the kidnapped are stowed away, and where plots are hatched for deadly attacks all over the world. It has become, in President Obama's words, "the most dangerous place"—a hornet's nest of violent extremists, many of whom now target their own state in vicious suicide-bombing campaigns.

Imtiaz Gul, who knows the ins and outs of these groups and their leaders, tackles the toughest questions about the current situation: What can be done to bring the Pakistani Taliban under control? Who funds these militants and what are their links to al-Qaeda? Are they still supported by the ISI, Pakistan's all-powerful intelligence agency?

Based on dozens of exclusive interviews with high-ranking Pakistani intelligence and government and military officers, as well as extensive first-hand reporting, The Most Dangerous Place is a gripping and definitive exposé of a region that Americans urgently need to understand.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Gul offers an unparalleled inside view of the region where Al Qaeda lives and still thrives." —-Ahmed Rashid, author of Taliban
Publishers Weekly
In this breathless play-by-play, Pakistani journalist Gul surveys the violent free-for-all along Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan. The kaleidoscope of armed religious and ethnic factions he follows includes Taliban groups that attack each other almost as readily as they do their enemies; Pakistani army and police forces, who fight pitched battles with the Taliban and also cut deals with them; tribal militias that sometimes support the Taliban and sometimes the government; competing Arab and Uzbek strains of al-Qaeda; and miscellaneous smugglers and bandits. Hovering above it all are CIA drones periodically lobbing Hellfire missiles into the fray. The author traces the turmoil to the Soviet and American invasions of Afghanistan, the Pakistani government’s erstwhile support for Afghan jihadists, and Pakistan’s authoritarian rule, but the fundamental problem is the absence of a functioning state, aside from the Taliban chieftains who try to stamp out crime, girls’ schools, barber shops, and iodized salt. Gul’s disorganized but readable account doesn’t alter the conventional picture of the Pakistan-Afghanistan frontier, but he offers a useful scorecard for the struggle to bring order to the region--and shows how difficult and perhaps even unrealizable it is. (June)
Kirkus Reviews
In his first U.S. publication, Pakistani journalist Gul tracks the Taliban and al-Qaeda insurgents into the mountainous tribal regions to investigate the tangle of perilous allegiances. The destabilized Afghanistan-Pakistan border region is constantly in the news as the Obama administration attempts to flush out the militants using the area as a base to train soldiers and launch terrorist attacks. In a dense, timely study, the author investigates the complicated makeup of these groups. The autonomous tribal areas were mostly ignored until they became "staging posts" for mujahideen attacks against the Russian invaders of Afghanistan in 1979 and the early '80s, organized by the CIA and Pakistan's military arm, the Inter-Services Intelligence Agency (ISI). After the Russians pulled out in 1989, the United States lost interest in the area, leaving the smugglers to conduct "business as usual," until 9/11 sent the al-Qaeda militants from Afghanistan into areas of North and South Waziristan and Bajaur. (The two maps at the beginning of the book are helpful.) As American attacks increased in fury, the organization of the fighters similarly coalesced and allegiances grew even murkier, with Pakistan's leadership unable, or unwilling, to "plug the border to Al Qaeda and the Taliban," and U.S.-Pakistan relations becoming increasingly fraught with suspicion. Gul dissects the various terrorist "agencies" in these areas and their assaults, culminating in a rash of suicide bombings, finessed by al-Qaeda as a glorification of "violent martyrdom," that claimed thousands of lives, many innocent civilians. The chapter titled "Who Funds the Militants?" is a fascinating look at the incestuous financial networks that allow the terrorist organizations to operate, and "A Question of Justice" explores the tribal system of the Pakistan-Afghanistan border and how each group agitates for policies more suitable to its own sense of law, rather than what's dictated from Islamabad. Informational rather than didactic, Gul's insider take will serve as an excellent resource.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781400147977
  • Publisher: Tantor Media, Inc.
  • Publication date: 6/22/2010
  • Format: CD
  • Edition description: Library - Unabridged CD
  • Product dimensions: 6.80 (w) x 6.50 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author


Imtiaz Gul has been reporting on Islamist groups in Afghanistan and Pakistan since the late 1980s. Heis the author of The Unholy Nexus: Pak-Afghan Relations under the Taliban.

Kevin Foley has over thirty years' experience in radio and television broadcasting, commercial voice-overs, and audiobook narration. He has recorded over 150 audiobooks, and he won an Earphones Award from AudioFile magazine for his narration of Cognitive Surplus by Clay Shirky.

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