I got this email from my friend Tommy Wide who’s currently in Kabul doing some work with the BBC. It’s an interesting story in its own right, but even more so because it reminds us of yet another function that once was filled by print media and that has now become almost entirely digital. The journalist in the story below is kind of a living google for Afghan publications from 1979-present… And, obviously, the kinds of propaganda photos shown below can be found all over the internet on mujahideen message boards and the like — what’s interesting to me is how similar their printed precursor is.
Full post reprinted below — but go check out his blog for more cool stuff.
“Today I went to visit Ahmad Shah Wahdat, a very brave journalist who ran newspapers in Peshawar during the Jihad against the Soviets. He has been collecting every magazine since that time, right through the Taliban years up to today. He has the most unrivalled archive of 1979-present day print journalism in the world – and hardly anyone has seen it. He lives very simply, without much money, in a poor area of town.
He took me to his house down this little backstreet:
In his house he had all these incredible colour magazines called things like ‘Blood Pact’ which glorified the Mujahed Masoud:
One of them, which was full of pictures of dead Soviets and blown up tanks looked like this:
This magazine, in full colour, was funded by Osama Bin Laden’s teacher, and mentor, the Palestinian Islamist Abdullah Azam (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abdullah_Yusuf_Azzam). This newspaper was written in Arabic and was designed to get support both from Arabs in Pakistan, but more importantly from abroad (saudi Arabia etc.) It even had little applications where you could send money and ‘get involved’. One sees here how this localised war in Afghanistan became a global war, which we are still living with today.
Ahmad remembers Abdullah Azam from his time in Peshawar before he was assassinated in 1989. Here is the man photographed in his own magazine – you can see how he wanted to be portrayed as no cloistered intellectual but a real fighting man:
Ahmad Shah Wahdat returned to Afghanistan in the civil war era, and was later imprisoned by the Taliban for a single cartoon he drew, showing how the Taliban mistreated women. This is it: