Freedom Fighters or Terrorists?
“As ye sow, so also shall ye reap. My father chastised you with rods, but I shall chastise you with
scorpions. The Evil that men do lives after them, the good oft lies interred with their bones. In
intelligence circles they have a name for it: BLOWBACK.”
1980s Afghanistan, invaded by the Soviets, was an awkward place. An altruistic and
intrepid team of volunteer surgeons from a British hospital need a trouble-shooter by
their side on the ill-defined frontier with Pakistan.
Part One - Foreign Bodies
charts their manoeuvres through the diplomatic barriers. The mostly unflappable Chetwynd makes anecdotes rather than crises out of the drama.
Part Two - The Enemy Within
leads the team in shalwar kameez
to the war-torn border to the war-torn border regions, dodging local militia and fields of landmines, ever nearer the front-line casualties. But
allied to the threat of largely invisible fighting is a growing awareness that their mission is being
thwarted, not by military obstacles, but by an unseen third force - before accidentally stumbling
on the revelation that the party-political cottage hospital where they are operating on war
casualties is simultaneously a conduit for Saudi and Kuwaiti middle-class funding for ‘illegal’
fundamentalist political activities, investing long-term in the expectation of re-importing less
autocratic Home Rule, either by osmosis or backlash.
Part Three - Conspiracy of Silence
takes Chetwynd out of the clear air of Aghanistan to the unlikely Chancelleries of Bonn where he unearths the documentary evidence he needs. He
gets behind the smoke and mirrors which conceal an international fraud: Afghan drug-dealers
and gun-runners are co-operating with a fund-raising charity which is defrauding the German
Public, the EEC and the US State Department. Millions of dollars, raised for bogus hospital
installations which will never be completed, are being siphoned off. Has Chetwynd detected
the roots of the new funding of the new terrorism?
discloses how this racket, together with another know as the “by-pass operations” was being facilitated by its very clandestine nature. It charts how a new breed of
terrorism, aided and abetted, funded and equipped in the West, spawned in Afghanistan, was to
result in bombings from Peshawar, Islamabad, Riyadh, Cairo, Algiers - all the way to the World
Trade Centre in New York.
“As sure as hell, one’s man’s freedom fighter turns out to be the next man’s terrorist. It could
hardly have been contrived but there was no denying it is what happened.”
On a more positive note, the book tells of the outstanding contribution made by some
exceptional expatriate women in their war effort for a society not renowned for honouring their
Relentlessly detailed, the story is embellished with humorous anecdote, since, at the time,
humour went hand-in-hand with survival.
Quote for Yesterday's Enemy by Frederic Forsyth
"Running a mobile surgical team in the mountains of Afghanistan under the Soviet invasion is the stuff of Kipling, but Rupert Chetwynd actually did it and, in doing, discovered corruption of a nature and from sources that take your breathe away."