Larry C Johnson

Why is the Bush Adminstration persecuting the Afghan who saved the life of a Navy SEAL?  Last June, a four man team of Navy SEALs was inserted into bad guy country in Afghanistan.  Their mission was to find and surveil a high profile Taliban target.  They were discovered by Taliban forces and attacked.  Three of the SEALs died and one survived.  How?  He survived, despite being shot several times, by seeking refuge in the village where Mohammad Gulab lived.  An article in the 17 April issue of Newsweek tells the story:

Gulab brought the
injured stranger home, fed and sheltered him for two days and helped
contact a U.S. rescue team to airlift him out.


But Gulab did more than provide shelter.  Taliban fighters visited the village repeatedly offering to pay Gulab to hand the SEAL over.  Gulab refused.  Irate Afghans from a nearby village that had been hit by US bombers also showed up demanding that the American be handed over.  They wanted to kill him.  Gulab refused.  Bound by a sense of honor, Gulab put himself and his family at risk for an American sailor; a wounded one at that.

So, how have we paid him back?  He was detained and interrogated recently at Bagram Air Force Bace in Afghanistan.  Newsweek now reports that:

Late on Friday, April 14—the week NEWSWEEK’s
story appeared—Gulab’s phone rang. The caller told him to come to the
U.S. base at 11 the next morning, and Gulab barely slept that night,
thinking the Americans were going to relocate him and his family out of
danger. When he reported to the main gate on Saturday, he found a pair
of U.S. soldiers waiting for him. They checked his name—and then
handcuffed and blindfolded him, hauling him off to an unlit room in a
remote corner of the base. There, he says, he was placed in a cage so
cramped that he could neither stand up nor lie down.

later, two Americans and an interpreter entered the room and began
interrogating him. Most of the questions were about his life and his
family, although Gulab couldn’t imagine why. He was sure his captors
knew exactly who he was, he says. They inquired about ties to al Qaeda,
a question he considered insulting. Hadn’t he saved an American
commando’s life? And the interrogators kept returning to the subject of
his contacts with NEWSWEEK. They had searched him and found a NEWSWEEK
reporter’s business card with an Islamabad address. The interrogators
kept asking when he had been to Pakistan and where had gone, although
he told them he had not traveled to the Pakistani capital.

Navy SEALs I know are not happy about this.  Here are a couple of reactions to this news:

"Fuck! The assholes in Bagram will not approve REAL targets that we have, yet they screw with an actual person who helped a brother in need. Mutherfuckers!" 


"I think money to get this guy out would be better spent than fund  raising efforts to help the families left behind by the shoot down  of the CH-47. Those guys are dead, but we would like any future frogs to be helped by people like Gulab. It would be a good thing to bring this guy and his family over here. This sucks." 

Too bad our military and political leaders overseeing the fight against terrorism in Afghanistan do not have the sense of honor and decency of Mohammad Gulab.  He saved an American and deserves better.


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Larry C. Johnson is a former analyst at the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, who moved subsequently in 1989 to the U.S. Department of State, where he served four years as the deputy director for transportation security, antiterrorism assistance training, and special operations in the State Department's Office of Counterterrorism. He left government service in October 1993 and set up a consulting business. He currently is the co-owner and CEO of BERG Associates, LLC (Business Exposure Reduction Group) and is an expert in the fields of terrorism, aviation security, and crisis and risk management, and money laundering investigations. Johnson is the founder and main author of No Quarter, a weblog that addresses issues of terrorism and intelligence and politics. NoQuarterUSA was nominated as Best Political Blog of 2008.
  • Joseph Krzemien

    I have written to my Congressman and State Senator regarding Muhammad Gulab requesting that the United States provide a visa for he and his family or at least that we somehow offer him some sort of sanction from the Taliban. I have also started a facebook group supporting him. Senator Ticer responded to me and has promised that she was working with Federal Legislators to help Gulab. Please help me out if you can. For more information e-mail me at

  • Mr.Murder

    Even admitting to being tortured is something that takes much courage , in his cultural context the spate of honor killings done could very well be claimed against he and his once the next wave of collateral casualties occurs.

    Both sides will blame him.

  • Mugwump

    We were doing so well with mostly relevant, thoughtful and lucid comments. Thanks for blowing our average, Comic.

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  • Thinker

    On a side issue (which is kinda relevant), PrchrLady, here is my take on Islam. Though I have viewed little of the koran, I have studied chunks of the bible, particularly the synoptic gospels.

    By way of background, my understanding is, and this could be way off, utter rubbish, so someone please correct me if this is the case. My understanding is that the Koran came directly from Mohammed and the Qu’ran are a group of third party accounts on the history/ethics (or lack of) of Islam.

    As with the old testament bible, there are some really questionable ethics in the Koran. Sorry, I’ll take that a step further, really bad ethics. Now, I accept they can be argued away and toned down to nothing, but nutters like Komenei come along and ressaurect their fundamental meaning. I cant remember the name of his 4 volumes. And, look, I haven’t read them cover to cover, so I’m relying on conjecture here, but to me if that is his take on a moral World (with what I have read) and that was the way the World was to be, well that would be the time for me to leave it.

    The other problem is, and Mohammed may have been a great man, but the little I have read (particularly in the Qu’ran) tells me that there was a whole lot of ass covering going on. On one hand he was asserting that ONLY God had the right to be veangeful and on the other attrocities like Medina were examples of high morality. Cheating and deception seem to be high morals. I understand that selective followers of Mohammed believe he is going for the ‘top job’. This of course is plain silly, but if you can brainwash yourself into believing that blowing yourself up will make the world a better place and “God would be pleased” with that, then you can believe anything.

    We have a lot of Muslims here in Australia. Those that integrate effectively invariably end up segregating themselves creating a microcosm of society. I though the Jewish cliques in the UK were bad enough, but some of these guys are so prejudiced and bitter even though they’ve been “saved”. The ‘us’ versus ‘them’ mentality carries over. So, in one sense I appreciate Mr Murders take regards Gulab. Is any Afghani ready to be saved? You see I believe the taliban were successful because it was a reflection of the people. That’s [effectively] what they wanted. Look at Afghanestan now. Nothing seems to have actually changed there on the Islamic fundamentalist front. It’s just no longer ‘controlled’ by the Taliban. Speaking with an intellectual friend in Saudi recently, it [Saudi] appears to be an appalling place [for our kind]. If they could read minds, the lynch mob would prosecute genocide Pol Pot fashion with the blink of an eye. How can anyone move successful from a culture that persecutes free thought to one that encourages it? With all the Bush bashing, I guess free thinkers should be grateful there still is free speech here to some degree.

  • great comments, and thanks Sir Pat, Thinker, MMurder… Ali, and all, I am very troubled about this report. Larry, thanks for bringing it to MY attention… and thanks for the link to Liz’s letter. I think I should write one myself; if it were one of my boys (four active duty) who was saved by this man, and all soldiers are my sons and daughters… well, I am eternally greatful, for his helping, our brother in need. We must do the same for him.

    Ali, I appreciate your sharing your insight from the Koran, and the Islamic Faith. Trully, our God is one, and requires all that follow Him, to treat all men as our brothers. His wisdom comes to each of us in varied ways, and I believe, that there is much wisdom in studying other faiths than our own. Too bad none of the Bush cabal will take the time to read and meditate on the letter written by Irans President.. I hope someone, in Public service, even if it one of the Senators/Congressmen WILL respond. God will not let evil remain unpunished. Rudeness is unforgivable in this situation. But so is his ‘unitary exectutive’ theory.

    Brenda, you make some great comments. Some of the things that you have written have really struck a chord with me. I am sick to death of all the lies that have brought this great Nation to where it is today. Where is the Common Sense??? How can we believe anything this cabal say??? Heard Bush say today that the govt is not syping on Americans. And heard two different spokesmen from telcom co. say that they didn’t have any ‘contracts’ with the govt… lying weasels… maybe they weren’t written contracts, but they gave them rooms to work in at their facilities, and access to equipment and NSA did the work themselves… or so I would guess. Lies, and more lies…

  • Seven of Six

    Sounds just how they treat our own Disabled Veterans here in the states!
    No fucking heros, why change?

  • Mugwump

    Good letter to the public affairs officer about this issue posted here

  • Thinker

    Mr M, I appolodise. I milked it a bit as I was goings so well.

    It won’t happen again 🙂

  • Jon Q

    Well put, Patrick & Ali. I really feel terribly for Mr. Gulab. I feel ashamed. Any American of any real decency surely feels ashamed by this and wants something done to make amends for this wrong in some way. I don’t expect anybody in Washington feels any sense of shame and obligation as they should. I don’t expect they give a damn. I’m not sure what is more disturbing to me, how Mr. Gulab was treated or that the Bush administration could not care less. Ha! Listen to me. Like anybody in the administration knows the name Mohammad Gulab, what he did or even that he exists at all. Their actions keep betraying their words. This is not my America.

  • ali

    “Let him who believes in Allah and the Last Day be generous to his neighbor, and let him who believes in Allah and the Last Day be generous to his guest.”

    Forty Hadith of an-Nawawi 15
    “Hospitality – being hospitable to all, especially guests and strangers, and, at times, even the most hostile of enemies is a key teaching. The exception that makes the rule is when one has come to take advantage of Pashtunwali for their own corrupt ends, bringing harm to you in the pursuit of their aims.”

    Whatever his motives Gulab might not appreciate a medal but he deserves one. And then they treat him like a dog…

    Are they routinely abusing every Afghan they get there hands on, even when they walk in of their own free will? This is not just shameful but incredibly incompetent, a court martial would be appropriate. Profuse apologies from someone very senior are required.

    And a little dose of Pashtunwali ethics is needed in Bagram:
    “Self-respect – the belief that individuals must respect themselves, and respect others in order to be able to do so, especially those they do not know and do not share common beliefs with. Respect begins in the home, with wives, mothers, and children.”

  • Mr.Murder

    Not all Negropontes are that bad, the lady who visited here was quite charming.

    But she was from central america…

    Thinker, you forgot my sentence that shows how to best solve the contractor crises: “The UN would be prescient to endorse a ban on contractors altogether. National sovereignty, no more uniformed contractor armies, or face sanctions.”

    Granted we used contractors in the Serbian/Kosovar/Bosnia crises quite well. Then again Wes Clark was calling much of the shots, there was still some appropriated graft but unless Clinton let Congress take its slice of pie he would have faced more than ruffled feathers.

    Profit off the action, then be critical, Republicanism 101 class in session. See also the voting record of Mrs.Feinstein.

    Back to topic- this was clearly an effort to insulate people from cooperation with the coalition in Afghanistan.

    Perhaps so, it isn’t the coalition of the bribed there, it’s NATO and we must can find ways to make the people distrustful of all. It keeps the hedgemony going to justify a continued presence and our unitary policy regarding contractors of our choosing.

    Perot knew about contractors, his effort to run against a popular wartime winner was great revenge.

    Thankfully they were able to usher Cheney into the contracor line of services and steer appropriations away from some of Perot’s influence. Heavens knows he could easily back a candidate to run.

    Perot could send an empty suit like Trump back to the cleaners with the cash he can pony up. They’re lucky he has not searched for a corporate type to fill the bill. Ross can do one hell of a resume process and find the best pro.

    My guess is he’d basically have the money to run a shadow cabinet like AWOL did in 2000 with Powell and Rice and RUmmy.

    Only it would be people with better, more effecient track records. Maybe a Schwarzkopf to be the big kahuna, with some of the Brzezinski and Clarke hawks or understudies(younger, cheaper to elevate) and make a true power lineup of geopolitical pros to run the right race.

    Of course he could always take the money of a Soros, and double their influence, and put together diverse cross section of their assets into the purpose.

    Those two men could buy Diebold in a day.

    Just sayin’

    As for the man named Mohammed Gulab, perhaps the UN could have the man testify? The Hague has Milosevic’s cell ready for Rummy. If we give this man a voice within the international community, this can be the tool to develop cohesive internal mechanism within the Persian culture. We must develop that to effectively counter the Al Qaeida ranks there, and the nuclear threat fully emerged in neighboring Pakistan. That country developing Iran as a Pakistani buffer zone vis-a-vis Israel.

    Remember Osama is essentially a defacto ruler within the rural Pakistani subgroups. What’s to say he has not gotten greater degrees of assistance in high government ranks? Bush will tell us what we do know at this time to boost sagging polls and let them onto our asset(as usual).

    Osama no likey Israel. Too bad Bush helped inflame tensions in Iran to invite a poll backlash and elect their heated rhetoric ruler into office. Almost like AWOL planned such all along…

    Sounds like Rummy’s missile shield plan is going to have a new customer soon.

  • Patrick henry


    I do Ramble On..Shamelessly..

    “Back to the Subject” about Plights .

    .Guess I still have the Plight of Thousands of 9/11 Victims and thier Familys on my Mind..

    Since I believe it was a Preventable Act..With some Focus and Attention ON Glaring Details..

    Like this Story..

    Glad that Larry Has Focused on the “Plight” of Mr. Gulab..and His Brave Actions..

    Yes…He deserves better treatment..and Reward..and Appreciation..

    I understand the Emotion involved here since my Navy Seal son in Law was also killed on Active Duty..

    I Hope there is nother Ross Perot out there..who will do the “Right Thing”
    and that there are those who still Have the “Right Stuff”..

    and Understand..Honor..Decency.Loyalty..

    And Never Leaving a “Brother” behind..

  • Mugwump

    But getting back to the subject, the plight of a man named Mohammad Gulab…..

  • Patrick henry

    Mr. Murder..

    I always find your comments and information interesting..

    Focused Opinions..

    You do your homework..

    Larry…another Good Post..Interesting and Note Worthy as Usual..

    Just More of the ” UGLY AMERICAN” Policys of this Administration that Reflect on us all..

    The Katrina Event…and Domestic policys and Lack of Sensitivity to even the Plight of the American People..are Clear Indicators that the Real
    “Illegal Aliens” are the Ones Running the United States Government right now..

    Total and Complete BAD leadership…and Decision making..

    BAD policys..Bad Policy Makers..

    All done by the guys who ignored pre 9/11 Warnings about Bin laden..

    and did not even Make sure the FBI was aggressively pursuing suspicious the Guys getting Flight Training..

    The FBI did a terrible job..especially after the 1993 Trade Center Bombings..had already occurred and alot was happening since then to Send Up red flags..

    it was juast plain STUPID..and IRRESPONSIBLE..

    It was the FBIs job to prevent 9/11…They had all the information..and suspicious activity and all the right Players in thier Hands..

    Apparently it was still the Policy ..even in the BUSH Administration…not to Take a Closer look at suspicious Acting Foreigners…MUSLIMS…to be Exact…

    Because It was “PROFILING”

    Bushies.. were in Charge then…REMEMBER…??

    They Did NOT do thier Jobs..

    They had thier hands on all the Right People and good ProbableCause to investigate..remember the PDB..?? What immediate Actions were taken..that could have prevented 9/11..??

    Were DCI and Director of the FBI Immediately called in and told..”GIVE ME~ALL YOU GOT..”” ??????

    Isnt that what should have been done..??

    Whose responsibility was it..?? Who was CIC Then..??

    Who was Captain of the SHIP..??

    But CIA~ gets all the Blame for Bad Intel..and Not doing thier Jobs..

    BS…It was FBIs Job..

    Now…they have the phone records of all American citizens..PROFILING…and Data Mining AMERICANS..

    And an Excuse to go to War..and Ignore the Constitution..and Claim EXECUTIVE POWERS and Priviledge..

    Because they First..Protected the Privacy of the 9/11 Terrorists here at home..

    And Im sure my Comments will be added to my “FILE” somewhere in the “System”

    Because Its OK TO “ROFILE”
    American Citizens NOW..even eighth generation
    ones whose ancestors went to church with Patrick Henry and his Parents in Hanover County Va..and who Fought
    in the Revolutionary War..

    Now being PROFILED..

    By FIRST generation American Citizens.ONE
    .born in London…who came to this country ..and Now
    is NATIONAL DIECTOR..Overseeing

    Agencys in the United States..

    What are the odds of Two first generation Greek Immigrant Sons getting back to back jobs running Americas TOP Intelligence Agencys..??

    WELL…Lets just PROFILE..
    The PROFILERS..and do some DATA MINING of our OWN..

    See if anyone in this administration is an “Illegal Alien”..

    Some of them Sure Act like

    Especially when it comes to the Constitution and Bill of Rights..

    Wonder whan “Charm Scool” they went to..??

  • Thinker

    Only two paragraphs concern me Mr M. They are:

    “If we lower our standards in the search for Al Qaeida, we’ve already lost the war. It is about staying true to values as much as it is any other objective. One scenario(winning the war on terror, or accomplishment a task specific deployment or raid) does not exist without the other(respect for humans and their cultures/communities, winning hearts and minds).”


    “Keep in mind these ‘torturers’ are often contractors claiming to be military when it benefits them but never upholding the same respect for the UCMJ. Our soldiers, by proximity, will bear the brunt of the backlash these events create.”

    Firsly let me say, as you, ‘we’ (that’s the royal we) are mainly intelligent people here. Intelligent people who know what Al Qaeda is. And Al Qaeda as we know is an uncoroborated shit list comprising organisations and individuals that the US “don’t like” because of what they might be doing. I am afraid, as most of us intelligent folks know, this is not “something like” big brother. It is ‘big brother’.

    Similarly Bill Clinton deceived the people with the doom & gloom sound bite “Y2K” (which we now know was a device used to con the taxpayer into funding e-commerce security. Hell them bank’s is so poor!). Al Qaeda is the new soundbite that justifies wars on Afganestan, Iraq and this new NSA spin off. Though, undoubtably there are a number of bad eggs on the ‘database’, but as the ‘bible of terror’ it makes a mockery of all that is fair and propper. A good chef does not ‘break a few eggs’ while baking a cake if those eggs are to be unnecessarily sacraficed. Saddly, all sides nod like mesmorised cats when that so-called ‘analagy’ is used for Gulab style incidents or the anyhilation of 100,000’s innocents in the interests of this FAKE war on terror.

    And we all know it is a fake war, because war is terror, so a war on terror is a self perpetuating oxymoron. From someone outside the “World’s greatest nation”, I do smile wryly occassionally that the World’s biggest terrorist decided to conduct a war on terror. But then, I think to myself, they should know what terror is all about and its a shame that the rest of us can’t share the fun (sic).

    That other paragraph, Mr M. Well there are two classic cop outs used by people who make mistakes who don’t want to be blamed. The first is, “well, I was only doing my job. I was only following orders”. The second (your arguement) “Well, you just can’t get the staff these days. We gave them full instructions.” Now, you see, there is a flaw in this line of arguement as the reason that those at the top get paid the lions share is not just because of daddy or uncle Horatio. They are paid the lions share because their asses are supremely in the firing line, so they cannot come up with limp excuses like ‘we employed contractors’. Projects have project managers and the project management are anwserable to their contactors accounability. Though your point was about unfair exposure of the armed forces in conjunction of any backlash, I feel there was a hint of condoning the actions of the contactors. I do not condone.

  • Mr.Murder

    Well if we have a man that upholds a sense of honor and devotion without there being incentive, like oil and gas profits, then what is the purpose of help?

    Get with the program, the CEO mentality of the Bush cabal would hate to show proof that good people in the Muslim community have made stands on the side of honor and justice.

    Not saying we’re always on that side, but strangers in need are what they are and there is a tradition to uphold.

    Understand he did this whilst others in his culture provide the same abiding sense of aid to those we are looking for. The seperation or advantage for the foe has been their ability to blend in and move within the culture with less restraints, the traditions help speed up moving across social groups there.

    If we lower our standards in the search for Al Qaeida, we’ve already lost the war. It is about staying true to values as much as it is any other objective. One scenario(winning the war on terror, or accomplishment a task specific deployment or raid) does not exist without the other(respect for humans and their cultures/communities, winning hearts and minds).

    Thanks for going to bat on behalf of this brave man. He showed courage that transcends influence by either side of this conflict, as someone caught literally caught in the crossfire.

    Torturing him gets word out not to cooperate with the USA. Perhaps that is the purpose of those orders. Osama Been Forgotten, for a reason.

    The other issue- that we’ve lost discipline and focus and instead of developing a consistent approach to this war the USA has abandoned procedure.

    The damning truth is both have occurred.

    Keep in mind these ‘torturers’ are often contractors claiming to be military when it benefits them but never upholding the same respect for the UCMJ. Our soldiers, by proximity, will bear the brunt of the backlash these events create.

    The UN would be prescient to endorse a ban on contractors altogether. National sovereignty, no more uniformed contractor armies, or face sanctions.

    If it was a straightforward matter of applying soldiers in the numbers and means sufficient the task, their professionalism will win the day.

    It’s sad to see Bush rob the Armed Forces of that trait via the policies and orders he places above them.

  • taters

    Friggin’ A! Shameful, absolutely shameful.

  • This makes me ill. So what do we do about it?

  • mboy

    susanunpc writes: “This is sickening. And how utterly idiotic to treat a benefactor so badly that it’ll discourage the few with the courage to help a wounded American.

    That SEAL is right .. he and his family deserve not only protection, but also gifts of a home and whatever is required for them to begin a new life”.

    bingo. well put susan. we have a bunch of idiots in the drivers seat. no wonder we’re hated.

  • Well, he’s gonna think twice before doing us another favor again. As H. L. Mencken said, “No good deed goes unpunished.”

    No wonder we have so many enemies in the Middle East.

  • EasyRider

    Bush and his fucking followers.

  • SusanUnPC

    This is sickening. And how utterly idiotic to treat a benefactor so badly that it’ll discourage the few with the courage to help a wounded American.

    That SEAL is right .. he and his family deserve not only protection, but also gifts of a home and whatever is required for them to begin a new life.

  • citizen k

    The Bush regime’s target is not Al Queda but domestic opposition.

  • Leslie

    Obviously, anyone in touch with a Newsweek reporter must be a member of al Qaida.

  • oldtree

    why does this sound exactly like what we would do to someone that helped us as much as this person?
    logic and service be damned.