In August last year, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak was not happy with Saudi Arabia. He complained that the Saudis appeared to be funding an opposition candidate, Anwar Ibrahim, in upcoming elections.
What's more, the Malaysian authorities suspected two senior Saudi princes of involvement. The Saudis launched an investigation, and uncovered something very different - and more alarming.
A secret report seen by CNN concludes: "There is no evidence any Saudi official ever supported Anwar Ibrahim" and "claims of support from the Saudi royals named in the initial report [names redacted] were found to be without basis."
But the investigation found that hundreds of millions of dollars of Saudi money had been funneled to leading Islamist politicians and political activists overseas. It also found that al Qaeda and the Taliban were still able to use Saudi Arabia for fund-raising, despite numerous measures to choke off those sources of cash.
As Iraq's insurgency was peaking, and American soldiers were dying at a dizzying rate from roadside bombs, a theater director in London was having an epiphany.
Plenty of plays about the Iraqi carnage were piling up on his desk, but there were none about the the calamities befalling Afghanistan.
It was then that Nicholas Kent, director of the tiny Tricycle Theatre - far from the glitz and glamour of London's fabled West End playhouses - decided to act.
"I became aware in 2007-2008 how it was all going wrong in Afghanistan," he said. "It wasn't being reported in the media and certainly there was no artistic response to it."
He commissioned a dozen writers to produce a dozen short plays on Afghan history. The result, "The Great Game," changed the Afghan debate in the United Kingdom at a stroke. FULL POST
President Barack Obama is set to huddle behind closed doors with his national security team Tuesday to review the administration's policy toward Afghanistan and Pakistan - one day after the unexpected death of his diplomatic point man for the region.
Veteran U.S. diplomat Richard Holbrooke, America's special envoy to the so-called "AfPak" region, died Monday while being treated at a Washington hospital for a tear in his aorta.
Obama's monthly review of policy toward the pivotal region, however, is scheduled to continue, with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Defense Secretary Robert Gates and National Security Adviser Tom Donilon among those in attendance. FULL POST
The surge of troops have improved Kandahar security, but U.S. commanders face problems with Afghan politics. Nic Robertson reports.
Kandahar, Afghanistan — For the mayor of Kandahar, public service at the helm of Afghanistan's second-largest city carries a grave risk. His last two deputies were assassinated, and Ghulam Hayder Hamidi survived a roadside bomb 15 months ago.
"There was one guy standing there, the blood was dripping from his fingers," Hamidi told NATO Television. "I walked to my office, the car was completely gone."
Two people died and six were wounded in the attack, according to NATO.
But some of the mayor's duties are like those of any other mayor. He frets about cleaning up garbage and keeping the sidewalks clear. "These shopkeepers occupy the sidewalks completely," he said. "The traffic problems will happen and who's responsible? I am." FULL POST
An Afghan minority group apparently emerged as a stronger force in the country's legislature, a politically sensitive result in polls badly blemished by fraud and security problems.
The Hazaras, a minority Shiite community, gained 59 of 249 parliamentary seats in the recently-certified elections, a U.S. diplomat told CNN. That's a much larger percentage than their numbers - which the CIA World Factbook says is 9 percent of a 29 million-plus population.
The result raises concern among Western and Afghan officials that security problems could worsen over imbalances in the U.S.-backed government's tribal and ethnic presence. And the stakes are high for the Obama administration, which is seeking stability in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region, regarded as the central front in the war on terror.
This is not hard to write; it's cathartic. Shooting the story though was anything but: raw emotions accumulated - anger, sorrow, revulsion, and anger again, jumbled in some subconscious store to be sifted and sorted later.
It was a story about Afghan women, their oppression and their desperation.
For a few moments, some of these oppressed voices surface, enter our conscience, before sinking back into the social morass. They are absorbed and returned to the bosom of inhumanity, disappearing without trace, beyond reach, back to the isolated hell whence they came.
Afghan society is closed to outsiders. Even to neighbors. But if you are a woman here you risk entrapment, sealed off more completely inside the home than out. FULL POST
A vehicle bomb exploded near a military base on the edge of Kabul Friday, injuring at least one person, authorities said.
Initial reports say the blast happened as a convoy passed by with troops with the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force, the force said in a statement. The blast occurred near Camp Julien, where ISAF troops train Afghan forces as well as some newly arriving coalition soldiers.
The man at the center of an alleged al Qaeda plot to bomb cities in Europe has told investigators the conspiracy was directed by one of the organization's most senior figures, according to European intelligence officials.
Ahmed Sidiqi, an Afghan German, was detained in Kabul in July and has since been questioned at the United States' Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan, the officials say. They say he has told interrogators that while in the tribal areas of Pakistan he met with a senior Al Qaeda leader, Younis al Mauretani, who was planning multiple attacks on European countries that would be similar to the attack on Mumbai, India, in 2008.
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German citizen of Afghan descent was the source of much of the information on a potential "Mumbai-style" terror plot in Europe, a German counterterrorism official said Wednesday.
The man, Ahmed Sidiqi, was detained in Kabul in July and transferred to U.S. custody where he has "revealed details about the terror plot," said the official, who did not want to be named because he is not authorized to talk to the media.
The man and several other Germans traveled from Hamburg to the Afghan-Pakistan border area in 2009, where he joined the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, an extremist group allied with al Qaeda, German intelligence officials said.
Sidiqi, once captured, "started to talk a lot," and detailed a "Mumbai-style" attack in Europe, the German official said.