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 sex.

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."
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