"The Master of Spin Boldak: Undercover with Afghanistan's drug-trafficking border police" - Matthieu Aikins - Harper's

"The Master of Spin Boldak: Undercover with Afghanistan's drug-trafficking border police" - Matthieu Aikins - Harper's

by: Matthieu Aikins | publication date: December 1, 2009 | Publication: Harper's | pages: pp. 52-62

"When I arrived in Quetta, the capital of Pakistan's restive Baluchistan Province, I found the city's old bazzar shuttered in preparation for Ashura, an important day of mourning in the Shia calendar. In the past, Ashura had served as an occasion for sectarian fighting in Quetta, and so a cordon had been erected; I had to seek police permission, I was told, in order to photograph the procession. The following day, still dressed in Western clothes, I set off on foot from my hotel toward the courthouse . . . "

Akins went undercover with the border police at Spin Boldak. From Harpers website: "Originally from the December 2009 Harper’s Magazine. Now used for intelligence training in Afghanistan. As reported in the February 20, 2010 Washington Post: “KABUL — On their first day of class in Afghanistan, the new U.S. intelligence analysts were given a homework assignment. First read a six-page classified military intelligence report about the situation in Spin Boldak, a key border town and smuggling route in southern Afghanistan. Then read a 7,500-word article in Harper’s Magazine, also about Spin Boldak and the exploits of its powerful Afghan border police commander. The conclusion they were expected to draw: The important information would be found in the magazine story. The scores of spies and analysts producing reams of secret documents were not cutting it.”

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