I was on a small island in the middle of the Panjshir River, to which I'd been taken by the legendary leader of the Northern Alliance, Ahmad Shah Massoud, talking to young Arab prisoners of war who had been captured while fighting for the Taliban.
I couldn't work out what this unexpected trip to an island could possibly have to do with our conversation the night before. But when we reached it, I froze. There were young men scattered all over. Some sat in groups; others on their own.
In Edward Girardet's fine new book, Killing the Cranes, there is this damning sentence: "Simply put, it was the U.S. backing for the Islamic extremists in the 1980s that helped produce the current military quagmire in Afghanistan."