Abdul Hai Mutma’in

Abdul Hai Mutma’in served as a political advisor to Mullah Muhammad Omar and as spokesperson. He worked in the media section of Kandahar’s Culture and Information Ministry and from 2013 onwards served as a political and humanitarian affairs advisor to Mullah Akhtar Mansour from 2013. Since 2016, Mutma’in has held no official position within the Taliban or took part in any of its activities.

Mutma’in is the author of Taliban: A Critical History from Within.

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Dr Mike Martin

Dr Mike Martin is a scholar on conflict, particularly relating to Afghanistan. His first book, An Intimate War: An Oral History of the Helmand Conflict, based on his experiences in Helmand, Afghanistan as a British army officer, and his later research there as a scholar, tells the hither-to untold Helmandi side of the conflict. The UK Ministry of Defence tried to ban it citing contravention of the Official Secrets Act, a claim they later retracted. Since then, Mike has worked in a number of conflicts around the world, and he holds a visiting fellowship at the War Studies Department, King’s College London. For more information please see www.threshedthought.com or follow @ThreshedThought.

Mike Martin wrote the foreword to Taliban: A Critical History from Within.

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Sayyed Mohammad Akbar Agha

Sayyed Mohammad Akbar Agha fought against the Soviet Union’s forces in Afghanistan during the 1980s. As a mujahedeen commander, Akbar Agha was a leader of fighters that included much of the proto-Taliban leadership. Originally from Kandahar, he was closely associated with Mullah Mohammad Omar throughout the 1990s Taliban government, and was involved in the opposition to the new government that was brought in 2001. His book, exclusively published in English by First Draft Publishing, offers an account of these events as he experienced them. He lives in Kabul and remains involved in politics.

Akbar Agha is the author of I am Akbar Agha: Memories of the Afghan Jihad, the Taliban and my Imprisonment.

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Anand Gopal

Anand Gopal is a researcher and journalist. He has been published in the Wall Street Journal, the Christian Science Monitor, Harpers and Asia Times. Gopal's views on the Taliban have been quoted in several books. Gopal earned a bachelor's degree from New York University and also completed graduate studies in physics and chemistry at the University of Pennsylvania. In 2012 Gopal was named as one of the New America Foundation's ten Bernard L. Schwartz Fellows for 2013. His book No Good Men Among the Living: America, the Taliban, and the War through Afghan Eyes was published by Metropolitan Books in 2014.

Anand Gopal wrote the foreword to I am Akbar Agha: Memories of the Afghan Jihad, the Taliban and my Imprisonment.

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Mohammad Tahir Aziz Gumnam

Mohammad Tahir Aziz Gumnam worked as a doctor in Pakistan during the 1980s war. Originally from Kandahar, he wrote two books about the 1980s war entitled ‘Kandahar Assassins’ and 'Kandahar Heroes'. Published in 1986 in the Pashtu language and a perennial classic in Kandahar's bookstores, Kandahar Assassins tells the story of two well-known assassins who operated in the southern city during the 1980s war. The stories of 'Lame Ghazi' and Commander Ghaffari involve ambitious raids and plots carried out within the Afghan-controlled city. ‘Kandahar Heroes’, published ten years later, is a sequel incorporating biographical portraits of a number of fighters and commanders. Gumnam died in Herat City in 2012.

Gumnam is the author Kandahar Assassins and Kandahar Heroes.

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DR. David kilcullen


Dr. David Kilcullen is an Australian author and consultant who is a leading theorist on counterinsurgency and counterterrorism. Kilcullen is the founder of Caerus Associates, a Washington D.C. based consultancy firm. He is a former Lieutenant Colonel of the Royal Australian Infantry Corps and is currently commissioned in the Australian Army Reserve. He was a Senior Analyst with the Australian Office of National Assessments. Kilcullen was seconded to the United States Department of State Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism as Chief Counterterrorism Strategist and then was the Special Advisor for Counterinsurgency to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. In 2006 he was the author of Counterterrorism Strategy for the Quadrennial Defense Review in the Department of Defense, was also a Member of the White House 2008 Review of Afghanistan and Pakistan Strategy and was the Principal Author of the United States Army Counterinsurgency Handbook. He has worked as senior adviser to the U.S. State Department and General Petraeus. He is the author of several books, including The Accidental Guerilla, Counterinsurgency and his latest work, Out of the Mountains.

Dr. Kilcullen wrote the foreword to Kandahar Assassins: Stories from the Afghan-Soviet War

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Saba Imtiaz

Saba Imtiaz is a freelance journalist based in Karachi, Pakistan. Her work has appeared in The Christian Science Monitor, the Guardian and The Revealer. She has worked at The News and The Express Tribune newspapers in Pakistan, as well as hosted television and radio shows. She currently contributes to a number of local and foreign publications, covering human rights, politics, culture and religious movements. She has reported extensively from the Punjab and Sindh provinces, focusing on the state of religious minorities. Her first novel, Karachi, You're Killing Me!, was published by Random House India in February 2014. Saba was born in the United Arab Emirates and was raised in Sharjah, Lahore and Karachi. She currently lives in Karachi and spends her weekends devouring the city’s best seafood, trying not to get mugged and learning Farsi. Her work is available at sabaimtiaz.com

Saba Imtiaz is the author of No Team of Angels: Murder, Violence, and Land in Pakistan's Largest City: Karachi

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Dr. Sharif Fayez

Dr. Sharif Fayez was the first Minister of Higher Education in the post-Taliban Afghanistan. He received his MA and PhD from universities in the United States and taught at Kabul University. A Persian literature academic born in Herat province, his PhD dissertation, widely published, proved Rumi’s influence on the American poet Walt Whitman. He is the founder of the American University of Afghanistan.

Sharif Fayez is the author of An Undesirable Element: An Afghan Memoir

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Matt Trevithick

Matt is currently the Director of Communications at the American University of Afghanistan, a position he has held for three and a half years. Previously, he worked as a writer and researcher at the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars in Washington, DC for the book Rock The Casbah: Rage and Rebellion Across the Muslim World by Robin Wright, which won an Overseas Press Club award for Best Non-Fiction Title in 2012, as well as at Georgetown University’s Center for Contemporary Arab Studies. His work has been featured in The Atlantic, Foreign Policy Magazine, the Wall St. Journal, The Christian Science Monitor, and The Chronicle of Higher Education. He speaks Dari, and has lived and traveled across the Middle East, Central Asia, and Africa, including Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, and Mali. He holds a BA from Boston University. He is also the Co-Founder of the Syria Research and Evaluation Organization and head coach of the Afghan National Rowing Team. 

Trevithick is the editor of An Undesirable Element: An Afghan Memoir

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Michael Semple

Michael Semple is currently Visiting Professor at the Institute for Study of Conflict Transformation, Queen's University, Belfast and a Director of conflict-focused NGO, Talk for Peace. Michael has practised and written on humanitarian assistance and conflict resolution. During the period 1988 to 2008 he worked in Pakistan and Afghanistan for international NGOs, the United Nations and the European Union. He was a member of the United Nations political team which helped implement the 2001 Bonn Accords and as Deputy to the European Union Special Representative for Afghanistan 2004-08 participated in the follow-up to those accords. Throughout his career Michael has sought to be a reflective practitioner. Since 2008 he has worked as a scholar and adviser on conflict transformation, with particular focus on the Afghan conflict. He has directly advised key policy makers concerning the conflict in Afghanistan, particularly with regards to political engagement with the Taliban. Michael has researched and published extensively on Islamist militant movements, with a focus on the Afghan Taliban.

Semple wrote the commentary for Obedience to the Amir.

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Yameema Mitha

Yameema Mitha is a writer and editor on social issues. She has worked as a journalist during the turbulent Zia years in Pakistan, as country representative for Oxfam in Pakistan, and as Principal of Mazmon-i-Shauq, a unique bilingual school in Pakistan, committed to developing an indigenous system of education fostering peace in South Asia, and she maintains a strong interest in education. She has written on women in the informal labour force in Pakistan, on women and Islamic law in Pakistan, and on religious minorities in Pakistan. She has an abiding interest in the classical arts of the Indian subcontinent, specially music, has lectured on Indian cinema, acted in theatre in both Pakistan and Ireland, and lives between the two countries.

Mitha translated Obedience to the Amir.

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