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  1. #1
    Atomic Punk
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    Default Only in America: From Taliban mouthpiece to Ivy League undergraduate

    From Taliban mouthpiece to Ivy League undergraduate
    Tim Reid, New Haven, Connecticut
    March 04, 2006

    SECONDS before meeting the Taliban's former spokesman amid the venerable towers of Yale, to talk about his astonishing journey from Mullah Mohammed Omar's adviser to Ivy League undergraduate, I wonder if I will recognise him.

    Suddenly, there he is, walking towards me, and it is unmistakably Rahmatullah. Gone are the dark turban, flowing beard and baggy trousers in which he travelled the world in early 2001 as the Taliban's "roving envoy", defending the Islamic zealots' treatment of women, their destruction of the ancient Buddha statues of Bamiyan, and their determination to keep Osama bin Laden as a guest of Afghanistan.

    He is now wearing chinos and Nike trainers, with a trimmed beard and rucksack full of books, and looks worried. A man is filming him. Rahmatullah takes out his mobile to call the police.

    It has been a stressful week for Sayed Rahmatullah Hashemi, 27, who met bin Laden in his native Kandahar in the late 1990s, having just become the Taliban's deputy foreign secretary at 22.

    After eight months at Yale, in New Haven, Connecticut, where even his closest friends did not know his past, the US press has revealed all. Some of the reaction has been hostile. Rahmatullah fears for his wife and two children in the Pakistani border town of Quetta.

    "If people can chase me in New Haven then imagine what might happen back home," he says. Rahmatullah looks weary.

    "I hate to be hated," he says. But he feels lucky to have made it to America's third-oldest university, whose alumni include the current and past two presidents.

    At first, he found the food unpalatable, but then he found kosher meat at Yale's Jewish dining hall. He enjoys pizza and Coke. A compass on his watch tells him the direction of Mecca.

    He is close to completing a non-degree course as a special student and hopes to begin a three-year degree in political science later this year.

    Rahmatullah did unexpectedly well in English but surprisingly badly in his class on Terrorism: Past, Present and Future. The textbook references to the Taliban annoyed him. "They would say the Taliban were the same as al-Qa'ida," he says with disgust.

    Rahmatullah spent most of his formative years in the slums of Quetta, as a refugee from the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan.

    When the Taliban took control of Kandahar in 1994, "nobody opposed them, not even the United Nations", he says. "They were seen as saviours. I wanted to join them."

    He got a job as a computer operator and translator in the Foreign Ministry in Kandahar, and fell under the wing of Mullah Muttawakil, later to become foreign minister. The first time he saw bin Laden was in 1996.

    When then US president Bill Clinton bombed Afghanistan in 1998, Rahmatullah went to see bin Laden speak at a house in Kandahar. "He was trying to explain his position, the presence of US troops in holy places, and he was very antagonistic toward the Saudi royal family," he recalls.

    But Rahmatullah now believes bin Laden has done more harm to Muslims than anybody. "As a result of 9/11, 3000 people were killed. Afghanistan has lost 20,000. We were also victims of 9/11," he says.

    Shortly before the US invasion of 2001, he fled to Pakistan. He returned to Kabul in 2004 to clear his name with the US authorities. After several interviews, he was told he could go.

    Mike Hoover, a CBS cameraman who set up a charity called the International Education Foundation, suggested he apply to Yale. He flew to New York that October for a successful interview with Yale's dean of admissions.

    Rahmatullah had visited Yale before. He appeared there in March 2001, in turban and tunic, as the Taliban's spokesman.

    In one encounter immortalised in Michael Moore's film Fahrenheit 9/11, he told a female Afghan heckler: "I'm really sorry for your husband. He might have a very difficult time with you."

    Does he regret that now? "That woman, for your information, did divorce her husband," he replies.

    Rahmatullah blames much of the Taliban's excesses - the amputations, the floggings, the ban on kite-flying, barbers, books, radio and chess - on its Ministry of Vice and Virtue, although he defended much of them during his 2001 travels.

    What about the public executions in the football stadium? "That was all vice and virtue stuff. There were also executions happening in Texas."

    Rahmatullah now wants to promote understanding between the Muslim world and the West.

    "It's not a good feeling to know the world is not a simple place. But people must be told that things are not black and white," he says.

    The Times
    "Watch what people are cynical about, and one can often discover what they lack.” -- Gen. George S. Patton

  2. #2
    Atomic Punk
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    Default

    Former Taliban spokesman now a Yale student

    GG2.NET NEWS [27/02/2006]

    I am the luckiest person in the world: Hashemi


    A FORMER spokesman for the Taliban, Rahmatullah Hashemi, has enrolled as a student at America`s prestigious Yale University where he has taken a class on terrorism, a US magazine reported.

    The ex Taliban spin doctor and "roving ambassador", who has spent time in the presence of al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden, is now a Yale "freshman" improving his English through a special non degree program.

    Hashemi, who once publicly defended the Taliban, told the magazine, however, that he started having serious doubts about its harsh moral codes as early as 1998 when women were being lashed with leather strips and executions were occurring in Kabul`s football stadium.

    He said he fled Afghanistan for Pakistan in the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks on New York and Washington fearing a US bombing campaign.

    Hashemi, 27, said a former Taliban minister persuaded him to return to Kabul in early 2004 to clear his name with the Americans, despite his fears he would be whisked to the US prison camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

    Following several interviews with two Americans, one of whom only identified herself to him as "Michelle", Hashemi said he was told: "You can go."

    An American friend suggested he apply to study at the renowned Yale University, so he obtained a student visa from the US embassy in Islamabad and caught a flight to the United States.

    Months later, the dark-haired, bearded Hashemi is trying to adapt to his new academic surroundings, attending Harvard-Yale football games and keeping in touch with his wife and son back in Pakistan, the report added.

    "In some ways I am the luckiest person in the world," he was quoted as saying in the magazine. "I could have ended up in Guantanamo Bay. Instead I ended up at Yale."
    "Watch what people are cynical about, and one can often discover what they lack.” -- Gen. George S. Patton

  3. #3
    Atomic Punk
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    http://www.yaleherald.com/article.php?Article=4536


    Sayed Hashemi ’09, was foreign envoy for the Taliban before enrolling at Yale this year.
    "Watch what people are cynical about, and one can often discover what they lack.” -- Gen. George S. Patton

  4. #4
    Atomic Punk
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    Default

    If America is such a bad place, why is he here?
    "Nothing is ever what it seems but everything is exactly what it is." - B. Banzai


    My Blog:

    http://axxman300tool.blogspot.com/

    http://www.myspace.com/axxman300

  5. #5
    Eruption
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    Default and, in case this fact has slipped right past you...

    ... this dick weed turns up at Yale University, smack-dab in the heart of Limousine Liberal Heaven in New Haven, CT, Blue State HQ.

    ever notice these booger-eaters don't show up in Kansas or Nebraska or Texas, right?

    they always scurry into some dirty corner of a freak zone where they can blend in with the rest of the elitist pricks.

  6. #6
    Atomic Punk
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Axxman300
    If America is such a bad place, why is he here?

    freedom
    "Watch what people are cynical about, and one can often discover what they lack.” -- Gen. George S. Patton

 

 

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