The Afghan – Fredrick Forsyth

One of the best writers that the world has ever know, the late Frederick Forsythe, has given us a look at how a British intelligence officer infiltrates the Al Qaeda in order to avert a threat of terror. The story takes place in Indonesia, Pakistan, Guantanamo Bay, Trinidad and Tobago, Washington state and on board various ships sailing the high seas.

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Mike Martin, a retired SAS man is recruited to infiltrate Al Qaeda and pass for an Afghan prisoner, who is currently held in Guantanamo Bay. Martin is able to do this as he was raised in Iraq as a small boy, has perfect command of Arabic & Pashtun, is familiar with Afghanistan terrain (due to being previously posted there) and because of his chestnut brown complexion – passed on to him by an Indian grandmother.

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In the story it is revealed that prior to Martin’s escapades in Iraq he had worked with the Mujahideen in Afghanistan during the Soviet occupation where he met Osama Bin Laden and rescued a young Afghan boy, Izmat Khan, who later became a resistance leader. Izmat Khan is the Afghan that Martin has to pretend to be. Highly covert, the operation is successful as Martin is accepted as Izmat Khan and welcomed to the fold, albeit after passing an interrogation.

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He volunteers to be part of a suicidal terrorist attack – hijacking a tanker carrying liquid petroleum gas and ramming it into an ocean liner on which the G8 summit is taking place. Martin’s heroism averts the attack and he is killed in the process.

The only weak part of this novel is how Izmat Khan dies –  a US Airforce jet accidentally crashed and hits the secret hiding base in Washington state where Izmat is held.The crash destroys most of the wall and the building and Khan escapes. While at the Canadian border he finds a phone booth and as he tries to alert his commrades, he is shot to death. That was a highly improbable scenario and is termed as rubbish in this otherwise immensely thrilling novel.