The Taliban’s New Campaign of Fear

“As Afghanistan goes to the polls, Islamic fighters are stepping up their reign of terror. Can they be stopped?”


Farhad Seddiqi wasn’t in the mood to go to the Serena, Kabul’s finest hotel. It was March 20, and Seddiqi, a member of Afghanistan’s parliament, was looking forward to a quiet evening with his family. But it was the night before Nowruz, the Persian new year that’s also celebrated by many Afghans, and some friends and colleagues persuaded him to meet them at the Serena–a decision that Seddiqi will question for the rest of his life.

After a stop in the hotel’s upscale gym, Seddiqi’s group went for the buffet dinner in the restaurant upstairs. Still hoping to eat later at home, the politician served himself a little fish and sat down at a table in the smoking section next to one occupied by four young men. He asked a waiter for some bread. One of his friends picked up a vegetable from a plate, saying, “Is this a cucumber…

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