The taste of ashes

“Somehow, it’s always the fixer who dies,” writes George Packer in a piece on the death of Afghan journalist Sultan Munadi and the power imbalance between foreign correspondents and the local fixers without whose help they couldn’t report from dangerous places.

Just days before he died, Munadi wrote a post for the At War blog about the stubborn love and hope he had for his country:

I have passed the very darkest times of my country, when there was war and insecurity. I was maybe four or five years old when we went from my village into the mountains and the caves to hide, because the Soviets were bombing. I have passed those times, and the time of the Taliban when I could not even go to Kabul, inside my country. It was like being in a prison.

Those times are past now. Now I am hopeful of a better situation. And if I leave this country, if other people like me leave this country, who will come to Afghanistan?

Munadi was killed yesterday during an attempt by British Special Forces to free his New York Times colleague, Stephen Farrell, from Taliban captivity.

Mr. Munadi was killed as he tried to lead Mr. Farrell to safety.

Walking in front of Mr. Farrell as they tried to reach British forces, Mr. Munadi stepped out from behind a wall, raised his hands and identified himself as a journalist. A hail of bullets immediately felled him.

“He was trying to protect me up to the last minute,” Mr. Farrell said.

Munadi’s colleagues remember him as a person of intelligence, courage, and kindness.

Sultan had the most erect posture of anyone I’ve ever met. It was regal, and it was revealing: he himself was so straight, quite literally upstanding. In his motives, his agenda, he had the clarity of water – there was nothing hidden. He was an entirely selfless man: he would do anything for us; for his family; for his country. He named his first son “Parsaa,” a Dari/Persian word that means, he wrote me, “one who avoids or refuses to commit any sin,” words that could apply to the father as well.

Here’s hoping the Times has a scholarship fund set up for Parsaa and and his brother.

UPDATE: The Times has set up a fund for Munadi’s family. Scroll to the end of this post.


ICC Prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo is conducting preliminary inquiries into allegations of war crimes in Afghanistan, Georgia, Gaza, and Colombia. Ocampo has previously expressed his intention to open four more cases, at least one outside Africa, before the end of his tenure.

One thing is for sure: by turning his attention to conflicts involving three of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Israel, Ocampo is about to open a serious can of diplomatic worms.

Tantrums from the United States, Russia and Israel in 5…4…3…2…


And now for some absurdity: Harry Rud weighs in on clip art for night letters. In the comments, Alanna astutely observes that the choice clip art for the letter pictured is, almost certainly, candy corn.

Candy corn!?

Candy corn.

One thought on “The taste of ashes

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s