Disillusioned SAS veteran Matt Logan is struggling on civvy street. The life he dreams of can be his – if he takes a private security job with the American commander who ended his military career. But when a seemingly random act of terror destroys everything Matt holds dear, the only way to settle the score is to sell his soul.
Matt returns to the murky world of Black Ops. But this time, he’s not part of an elite crew. To find and kill an elusive insurgent leader, he must go undercover in Pakistan and single-handedly unravel a jihadist network more complex than he realizes and closer than he knows. Stalked by fundamentalists and Pakistani intelligence, Matt ends up a pawn in a conspiracy to redraw the boundaries of global power; a secret war that is ripping a nation apart. But not the one he thinks…
Bob Shepherd on the inspiration for The Good Jihadist…
Since 2004, I’ve worked as a security advisor to media operating in the AfPak region; a role that has enabled me to access people and places off limits to most westerners. A particularly eye opening assignment took place in 2007, when I accompanied a group of news broadcasters to key cities around Pakistan. My clients and I went to Islamabad’s notorious “Red Mosque” and met with the infamous radical cleric Abdul Rashid Ghazi who was calling for the violent overthrow of Pakistan’s government (Ghazi was killed four months later by Pakistani Special Forces). That trip also took us to Peshawar in Northwest Frontier Province and most crucially, to Quetta in Baluchistan province.
A dusty frontier town near the Afghan border, Quetta enabled me to witness first-hand how Pakistan’s authorities play both sides in the War on Terror. Under cover of darkness, I helped my clients explore Pashtunibad; a sprawling Afghan refugee camp where Afghan Taliban are believed to live openly. We also visited a hospital where Afghan Taliban were receiving treatment for combat wounds sustained in Afghanistan.
That trip taught me that there is more than one Taliban operating in Pakistan; the Afghan Taliban which takes refuge in Pakistan from coalition forces who are barred from pursuing them across the border, and the Pakistani Taliban which is at war with the government in Islamabad. Two Taliban, two very different agendas; hence why I’ve never believed Pakistani officials when they point to terror attacks on their soil as evidence that they have forsaken violent jihadists. Islamabad may be engaged in a fierce battle with the Pakistani Taliban, but I believe strongly that there are powerful members of the country’s establishment who have and continue to support the Afghan Taliban and al-Qaeda as a means of preserving Pakistan’s influence in Afghanistan. After all, there is a reason the leaders of the Afghan Taliban are referred to as “The Quetta Shura”.
My visit to Quetta also gave me a better understanding of another insurgency I knew little about; the rebellion of ethnic Baluch against what they see as the illegal occupation of their homeland by Pakistan and Iran. Though largely ignored on the world stage, the Baluch struggle has been raging for more than sixty years.
The Baluch aren’t the only ethnic group yearning to break away from Pakistan. My assignments in Afghanistan have put me in contact with many Pashtun from Pakistan’s tribal areas. The Pashtun are great disseminators of conspiracy theories involving western attempts to subjugate the region; charges which date back to 1893 and the creation of the Durand Line, the British drawn border that today divides Afghanistan and Pakistan. The Durand Line physically split the Pashtun tribes between two countries and I have yet to meet a Pashtun who does not feel hard done by it. Many want the border redrawn and their people re-united, ideally under a separate state.
Between Pashtun and Baluch nationalism, Pakistan is to Asia what Yugoslavia was to Europe; an ethnic tinderbox. I knew I had the raw material for a great novel. But it didn’t come together until I learned of China’s interests in Pakistan. To secure its energy needs, Beijing has invested billions developing ports, roads and pipelines through Pakistan. Weigh China’s strategic interests against the West’s, and you’ve got two conflicting global agendas playing out in a nuclear armed state.
The Good Jihadist was inspired by facts on the ground, but it is most definitely a work of fiction. My goal was to produce a page-turning, action-packed thriller that will hopefully make people more aware of what’s really at stake in Pakistan. I hope you enjoy reading it.