The Afghanistan File

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The Afghanistan File, written by the former head of Saudi Arabian Intelligence, tells the story of his Department’s involvement in Afghanistan from the time of the Soviet invasion in 1979 to Nine Eleven in 2001.Beginning with the Saudi Arabian backing of the Mujahideen in their fight against Soviet occupation, the story looks into the peace initiatives made in vain. It also addresses the Taliban rise to power, and the shelter given to Osama Bin Laden.

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The Afghanistan File, written by the former head of Saudi Arabian Intelligence, tells the story of his Department’s involvement in Afghanistan from the time of the Soviet invasion in 1979 to Nine Eleven in 2001.Beginning with the Saudi Arabian backing of the Mujahideen in their fight against Soviet occupation, the story looks into the peace initiatives made in vain. It also addresses the Taliban rise to power, and the shelter given to Osama Bin Laden. A central theme in The Afghanistan File is the immense number of difficulties faced by Saudi Arabia and its allies when dealing with the Mujahideen. Prince Turki found them to be magnificently brave but also exasperating.  On one occasion the Prince got permission from the King to gather the leaders in the Kaaba in Mecca. He attempted to arrange peace among them. Overcome with emotion, the Mujahideen swore never to fight each other again. A few hours later on a bus to Medina, they almost came to blows. Containing a number of declassified Intelligence Department documents, Turki’s account gives details of the Saudi attempts to bring its volunteers out of Afghanistan in the 1990s, achieving chequered success. He also returns to his negotiations with the Taliban for the surrender of Osama Bin Laden. Prince Turki explains the nihilistic and apparently pointless terrorism that has been seen in the Middle East in the last twenty years – its origins rooted in Afghanistan and Osama’s deluded belief that he had helped defeat the Russians.  There is no evidence that he ever fought them at all. Soon after Nine Eleven Saudi Arabia discovered that it had a home grown terrorist problem involving some of the returnees from Afghanistan.  Much of the vast change that has taken place in the Kingdom since has stemmed from the campaign to tackle this.

Author

  • Prince Turki AlFaisal Al Saud is the youngest son of King Faisal, who ruled Saudi Arabia from 1964 to 1975. He was educated at Princeton and Georgetown University. From 1978 to 2001 he was head of the Saudi Arabian General Intelligence Department, which was responsible for the Kingdom’s dealings with Afghanistan, and for the next twenty-three years it was Afghanistan that absorbed most of his attention. Soon after he left the Department, he was appointed Ambassador to London from 2003 to 2005, and then Washington from 2005 to 2007. In these posts he argued first against the invasion of Iraq, and once that was a fait accompli, for a more sensitive, less radical political solution than that imposed by the Americans. Since he left Washington Prince Turki has been running the King Faisal Centre for Research and Islamic Studies in Riyadh.

Additional information

Publish date

6th September 2021