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Works of Radical Imagination

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Foreword & Interview by David Barsamian

In 1985, President Ronald Reagan received a group of bearded turban-wearing men who looked like they came from another century. After receiving them in the White House, Reagan spoke to the press, referring to his foreign guests as "freedom fighters." These were the Afghan mujahideen. In August 1998, another American president ordered missile strikes from the American navy based in the Indian Ocean to kill Osama bin Laden and his men in the camps in Afghanistan. The terrorist of yesterday is the hero of today, and the hero of yesterday becomes the terrorist of today. In part one of the two-part pamphlet Terrorism, Theirs and Ours, Eqbal Ahmad holds up the concepts of "terrorist" and "freedom fighter" to U.S. foreign policy. What do these terms mean? Where do they apply? How can the roots of political violence be stemmed? In part two, David Barsamian interviews Ahmad about Pakistan, India, Kashmir, Afghanistan, the Taliban, Muslim Fundamentalism, and US foreign policy. An invaluable primer.

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“[Eqbal Ahmad] was a shining example of what a true internationalist should be. Eqbal was at home in the history of all the world's great civilizations. He had an encyclopdeic knowledge of states past and present, and he knew that states had a rightful role to play. But he also knew that states existed to serve people, not the other way around, and he had little to do with governments, except as a thorn in their side. To friends, colleagues, and students, however, he gave unstintingly of himself and his time, His example and his memory will inspire many to carry on his work.”

“A very dedicated and honorable activist, Eqbal was right in the middle of everything-He was a student of revolution and imperialism and a very good one.”

“Eqbal Ahmad was a multitude of men's scholar, activist, political analyst, teacher diplomat, visionary, but above all, a foot-solider in the army of peoples everywhere.”

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Eqbal Ahmad (1933–1999) has been hailed by his close friend Edward Said as “perhaps the shrewdest and most original anti-imperialist analyst of the postwar world, particularly of the dynamics between the West and postcolonial Asia and Africa; a man of enormous charisma, dazzling eloquence, incorruptible ideals, unfailing generosity and sympathy. Humanity and genuine secularism . . . had no finer champion.” For many years Professor Emeritus of International Relations and Middle Eastern Studies at Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts, Ahmad also served as managing editor of the quarterly Race and Class. His essays appeared in the Nation and other journals throughout the world.