Sean Carberry

Sean Carberry is NPR's international correspondent based in Kabul. His work can be heard on all of NPR's award-winning programs, including Morning Edition, All Things Considered, and Weekend Edition.

Prior to moving into his current role, he was responsible for producing for NPR's foreign correspondents in the Middle East and "fill-in" reporting. Carberry travels extensively across the Middle East to cover a range of stories such as the impact of electricity shortages on the economy in Afghanistan and the experiences of Syrian refugees in Turkish camps.

Carberry has reported from more than two-dozen countries including Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Lebanon, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Congo, Sudan, South Sudan, and Iceland. In 2010, Carberry won the Gabriel Award Certificate of Merit for America Abroad's "The First Freedom," and in 2011 was awarded the Sigma Delta Chi Award as lead producer and correspondent for America Abroad's series, "The Arab World's Demographic Dilemma."

Since joining NPR, Carberry worked with Lourdes Garcia-Navarro in Tripoli for NPR's coverage of the fall of the Libyan capital. He also covered the post-US withdrawal political crisis in Baghdad in December 2011, and recently completed a two month fill-in reporting assignment in Kabul that led to his current role.

Before coming to NPR in 2011, Carberry worked at America Abroad Media where he served as technical director and senior producer in addition to traveling internationally to report and produce radio and multimedia content for America Abroad's monthly radio news documentaries and website. He also worked at NPR Member Station WBUR in Boston as a field and political producer, associate producer/technical director, and reporter, contributing to NPR, newscasts, and WBUR's Here and Now.

In addition to his journalistic accolades, Carberry is a well-rounded individual who has also been an assistant professor of music production and engineering at Berklee College of Music in Boston, received a Gold Record as Recording Engineer for Susan Tedeschi's Grammy-Nominated album "Just Won't Burn," engineered music for the television program "Sex in the City," is a certified SCUBA diver, and is a graduate of the Skip Barber School of Auto Racing.

Carberry earned a Bachelor of Arts in Urban Studies from Lehigh University and a Masters of Public Administration from Harvard Kennedy School, with a focus in Politics, National Security, and International Affairs.

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Parallels
5:09 am
Tue July 23, 2013

An Afghan Minister Fires Back At Impeachment Attempt

Ghulam Mujtaba Patang speaks at a news conference Monday after being dismissed from his post as Afghanistan's interior minister. He will stay in the post until the country's Supreme Court rules on the legality of his dismissal.
Mohammad Ismail Reuters /Landov

Originally published on Tue July 23, 2013 9:13 am

If you think it's tough being a Cabinet secretary in the U.S., having to deal with the demands of a fiercely partisan Congress and testify a few times a year, try being the Afghan interior minister.

"I have been summoned by the lower house 93 times, and 79 times by the upper house," says Ghulam Mujtaba Patang, who for the past 10 months has been in charge of the ministry that oversees the Afghan National Police.

"Based on this calculation, I have had one day in a week to work for the people," he says.

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Parallels
1:02 am
Tue July 23, 2013

Despite Many Threats, Afghan TV Satire Mocks The Powerful

Zang-e-Khatar, or Danger Bell, makes fun of government officials and other powerful figures in Afghanistan. Cast members are shown performing a skit during a taping of the show.
Sultan Faizy NPR

Originally published on Tue July 23, 2013 7:10 pm

Saturday Night Live. The Daily Show. Zang-e-Khatar.

OK, maybe you haven't heard of that last one. But the comedy-sketch television show is well known in Afghanistan, where Zang-e-Khatar, or Danger Bell, is one of the most watched programs.

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Parallels
1:09 am
Sun July 14, 2013

Despite Repeated Tries, Afghan Peace Efforts Still Sputter

Afghan soldiers take positions following a clash with Taliban fighters on the outskirts of the eastern city of Jalalabad on July 7. The U.S. is trying to organize peace talks, but the latest effort has been put on hold while the fighting continues.
Noorullah Shirzada Getty Images

Originally published on Sat July 20, 2013 2:48 pm

The U.S. has been pushing the Taliban and the Afghan government to find a political solution for the past year and a half. But every time it seems the parties are close to starting peace talks, a new demand or controversy arises and nothing happens.

In the latest attempt, the Taliban finally opened a political office in Qatar, a move that was supposed to set the stage for negotiations. But when the Taliban envoys gave that office the trappings of an embassy, a furious Hamid Karzai, the Afghan president, called off the talks, and they have yet to be re-scheduled.

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Afghanistan
2:54 pm
Tue July 9, 2013

Possible U.S. Troop Withdrawal Plan Worries Afghan Officials

Originally published on Tue July 9, 2013 4:00 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

And I'm Robert Siegel. President Obama has not yet decided how many troops to keep in Afghanistan after the NATO mission ends in 2014. The Pentagon and the White House both confirmed that today. Their comments follow a New York Times report that the president is seriously considering withdrawing all troops by the end of next year.

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Parallels
2:21 am
Sat July 6, 2013

What A Fella Has To Do To Get A Drink Around The Muslim World

Bottles of alcohol are gathered to be smashed by Taliban authorities in Kabul in 2001.
B.K. Bangash AP

Originally published on Sat July 6, 2013 3:00 pm

Reporting in the Middle East and Afghanistan can be challenging enough between dodging the bullets and bureaucracy. But, equally as confounding can be figuring out how and where to have a cold one after a hard day's work. The range of alcohol laws in Muslim countries can be simply dizzying.

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Parallels
12:44 pm
Mon July 1, 2013

With A New Emir, Will Qatar Keep Its Outsized Role?

Qatar's former emir, Sheik Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, is shown last week in the capital, Doha, shortly before he stepped down on June 25 in favor of his 33-year-old son. Such voluntary abdications are exceedingly rare in the Gulf.
Bertrand Langlois AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon July 1, 2013 12:57 pm

Qatar's capital, Doha, is a post-modern city rising like a mirage out of the hot sands of the Arabian Desert. The ever-growing skyscrapers are stunning, and in some cases, head-scratching works of architecture and engineering. Standing in the city, you almost expect to see the Jetsons fly by.

Qatar is also doing something unusual when it comes to leadership. The 61-year-old emir, Sheik Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, stepped down last week and handed power to his 33-year-old son, Sheik Tamim.

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Parallels
2:57 am
Sun June 30, 2013

Kabul Postcard: Newly Paved Sidewalks, A Lion On The Roof

Afghan official inspects wreckage at the site of a suicide attack near Kabul military airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, on June 10. After a month outside the country, NPR's Sean Carberry returned to find some things that had changed, but many, like insurgent violence, that remain the same.
Ahmad Jamshid AP

Originally published on Mon July 1, 2013 10:42 am

I've just returned to Kabul after a month out of the country. In a place where it sometimes feels like nothing changes, a lot has changed.

First, a few oddities. An Afghan businessman on my street apparently bought a lion cub and has been keeping it on his roof. I'm not sure if that has anything to do with the fact that I have yet to see any of the ubiquitous, dust-caked street dogs in the neighborhood since I returned, but I don't miss them.

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Middle East
2:46 am
Tue June 25, 2013

Qatar Emir Steps Down, Transfers Power To Son

Originally published on Tue June 25, 2013 9:10 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

A rare event has taken place in the Middle East - the ruler of an Arab country has voluntarily stepped down. The emir of the Gulf state of Qatar handed power over to his son in a quiet ceremony in Doha this morning. NPR's Sean Carberry has our report.

(SOUNDBITE OF CEREMONY)

SHEIKH HAMAD BIN KHALIFA AL THANI: (Through Translator) As I address you today, I declare that I will hand over the reigns of power to Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani...

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Afghanistan
2:28 pm
Mon May 27, 2013

Taliban's Fighting Season A Major Test Of Afghan Forces

Originally published on Mon May 27, 2013 2:57 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

This past Friday in Afghanistan, a handful of Taliban militants paralyzed Kabul during an eight-hour standoff with Afghan security forces. This spring, the Taliban's attacks have been intensifying, and this year's fighting season is a major test of Afghan government forces. One month from now, they're supposed to be leading all security operations in the country, as NPR's Sean Carberry reports.

(SOUNDBITE OF GUNFIRE)

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Afghanistan
3:41 am
Sun May 19, 2013

Afghans With Disabilities Fight For The Right To Rights

A technician shapes a cast mold for a prosthetic limb at the Red Cross orthopedic clinic in Kabul. The clinic produces about 2,000 prosthetic limbs each year.
Sean Carberry NPR

Originally published on Sun May 19, 2013 4:44 pm

Climbing the rickety metal staircase is precarious enough if you aren't on crutches, but it's simply dangerous if you are. At the top is the office of Janbazan-e-Mayhan, one of many social councils for disabled Afghans. Men missing arms, legs or hands sit around the small room.

Afghanistan isn't an easy place for anyone to make a living. But for those with disabilities, it's a downright hostile environment. Tens of thousands have been maimed and disabled during decades of conflict. Jobs are scarce, and there's almost nothing that's handicapped-accessible.

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Parallels
3:13 am
Sat May 18, 2013

Afghan Mineral Treasures Stay Buried, Hostages To Uncertainty

An Afghan worker helps excavate part of the mountaintop copper works above the ancient city at Mes Aynak in February. Afghanistan is believed to be sitting on massive mineral and metal deposits. But many obstacles have prevented large-scale mining from getting underway.
Matthew C. Rains MCT/Landov

Originally published on Sat May 18, 2013 5:23 am

For years, reports have suggested that Afghanistan is sitting on massive deposits of copper, gold, iron and rare earth minerals valued up to $3 trillion. This provides hope for a future economy that would not have to rely so heavily on foreign donations.

But with an uncertain political, regulatory and security environment, international investors are hesitant. And it could be many years before Afghanistan begins extracting its mineral wealth.

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Parallels
1:02 am
Thu May 16, 2013

U.S. Hands Over Nation-Building Projects To Afghans

Afghan and U.S. officials attend the closing ceremony for the Paktia provincial reconstruction team on April 9 in eastern Afghanistan. NATO created more than 20 teams to help the Afghans rebuild. But now the U.S. teams are winding down their activities.
Sean Carberry NPR

Originally published on Thu May 16, 2013 2:24 am

On a sunny spring day in eastern Afghanistan's Paktia province, Afghan officials and U.S. troops and civilians gather inside the ancient mud fort in the center of Forward Operating Base Gardez. They're attending a ceremony marking the formal end of the work of the provincial reconstruction team, or PRT.

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Parallels
2:20 pm
Wed May 15, 2013

Heavy Metal In Kabul? It's The Music, Not The Munitions

Solomon "Sully" Omar performs with the Afghan metal band District Unknown at the third annual Sound Central Festival in Kabul earlier this month.
Courtesy of Ellie Kealey

Originally published on Thu May 16, 2013 7:35 am

When 23-year-old Solomon "Sully" Omar felt the music scene in his native Denver wasn't giving him what he was looking for, he made a radical move. He headed for Kabul, capital of the war-torn country his parents had fled decades ago.

"I came here to continue my education and at the same time see what's in the music scene here and bring some of the skills and abilities that I have to the music scene," says Omar.

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Afghanistan
12:55 am
Wed May 8, 2013

Afghans Confront Senstive Issue Of Ethnicity

Saifulzul Husseini (right) works in Dashti Barchi, a Hazara neighborhood of Kabul. He believes that ethnicity should be listed on the new identity card.
Sean Carberry NPR

Originally published on Thu May 9, 2013 9:43 am

In Afghanistan, where most people are illiterate and live in areas without paved roads or regular electricity, a state-of-the-art smart-chip ID card may seem extravagant. But the government believes it can help with everything from census data to voter registration to health care.

The format of the proposed card, however, is fueling debate over ethnicity and identity at a time when anxiety is already high over the drawdown of NATO troops.

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Afghanistan
3:11 am
Tue May 7, 2013

Afghan-Pakistani Forces Exchange Fire Along Shared Border

Originally published on Tue May 7, 2013 9:04 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Some other news. For the second time in less than a week, Afghan and Pakistani forces have exchanged fire along their shared border. The countries clashed again yesterday over a gate that Pakistani forces have been building on what Afghans say is their side of the line. The roots of this problem run much deeper.

But as NPR's Sean Carberry reports,.

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Afghanistan
1:16 pm
Wed May 1, 2013

Secret Cash To Afghan Leader: Corruption Or Just Foreign Aid?

Afghan President Hamid Karzai acknowledged a report this week that the CIA has regularly been sending him money. Afghans seem to have mixed feelings. The president is shown here speaking at an event in Kabul on March 10.
S. SABAWOON EPA/Landov

Originally published on Wed May 1, 2013 5:48 pm

After a report in The New York Times this week, Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai has acknowledged that the CIA has been secretly delivering bags of money to his office since the beginning of the war more than a decade ago.

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The Two-Way
7:24 am
Sun April 28, 2013

For Afghan Policewomen, Danger Often Comes From Colleagues

Afghan policewomen take part in a training exercise in the western province of Herat in 2011. Policewomen face frequent sexual harassment and assaults, often carried out by policemen, human rights groups say.
Sardar Xinhua/Landov

It seems almost trivial at first: the latest Human Rights Watch report on Afghanistan says female police officers need their own toilets. Sure, who's going to argue with that. But why is it a big deal?

Here's how it unfolds.

Female police officers are experiencing high levels of harassment, sexual assault and rape — often at the hands of their male colleagues. Where is most of this activity taking place? In police station bathrooms and changing rooms.

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The Two-Way
6:47 am
Sat April 27, 2013

Taliban Says It Will Begin Spring Offensive Sunday

Originally published on Sun April 28, 2013 1:06 am

The Taliban will launch their annual spring offensive on Sun., April 28, the group said Saturday.

In a press release, the Taliban said that the offensive will target "America, NATO and their backers for the gratification of Allah Almighty, independence of Afghanistan and establishing in it an Islamic government while we humbly raise our hands towards Allah Almighty for its success and hope for a favorable and triumphant end."

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The Two-Way
10:29 am
Sun April 7, 2013

Young Staffer's Death Binds U.S. Embassy, Journalists

An Afghan police officer stands guard near the site where a suicide bomb attack took the life of five Americans, including 25-year-old Foreign Service officer Anne Smedinghoff, in Afghanistan on Saturday.
Arghand Xinhua /Landov

Originally published on Mon April 8, 2013 8:50 am

Death comes with the territory when you work in conflict zones. On sometimes a daily basis, those of us who have worked in Iraq and Afghanistan in particular have filed stories with headlines like, "Four troops killed during insurgent attack," or "IED kills 10 civilians and wounds six."

It's a blur of numbers and uniforms. When we get word of an incident, we scramble to determine what happened, the nationality of the victims and any other pertinent details. But it's all very anonymous and impersonal, most of the time. It's reporting. It's work.

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Afghanistan
1:27 am
Tue April 2, 2013

Afghanistan, Pakistan Struggle To Find Common Ground

Afghanistan presidential spokesman Aimal Faizi speaks during a news conference in Kabul, Afghanistan, earlier this year.
Ahmad Nazar AP

Originally published on Tue April 2, 2013 6:05 am

Much has changed since last November, when Afghans were praising Pakistan for saying it would no longer support the Taliban and would instead work for peace.

"We believe that relations between the two countries are deteriorating," says Aimal Faizi, spokesman for President Hamid Karzai.

Faizi says the downward slide started last month. The two countries had agreed to convene a conference of religious scholars, or ulema, to denounce suicide bombing. But the conference fell apart at the last minute, with each country blaming the other for undermining the effort.

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Afghanistan
1:25 am
Mon March 18, 2013

Afghanistan's Forests A Casualty Of Timber Smuggling

An Afghan laborer works in a firewood yard at a market in Herat on Dec. 11, 2011.
Aref Karimi AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon March 18, 2013 12:34 pm

Despite Afghanistan's fierce winter, it's rare to find a house with insulation or a modern heating system. So Afghans rely on bukharis, stoves that look like an oil drum with a big rusty pipe growing out of the top that bends off into a hole in the wall.

That fact keeps the hundreds of wood vendors around Kabul quite happy. This winter, NPR staff fed several tons of firewood into their bukhari — and that's just one house in a city of about 5 million people.

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Afghanistan
9:36 am
Mon March 11, 2013

With Withdrawal Looming, U.S. Troops Shift Their Aim

An Afghan policeman stands guard near the scene of a suicide attack in Kabul, Afghanistan, Feb. 27
Musadeq Sadeq AP

Originally published on Mon March 11, 2013 3:36 pm

The NATO campaign is now in a new phase. After years of fighting the Taliban and bolstering anemic local governance, NATO troops are handing those responsibilities over to the Afghans. NPR's Sean Carberry recently embedded with U.S. troops in the southern province of Kandahar as they worked on this new mission.

The fertile Arghandab Valley in Kandahar province is considered one of Afghanistan's breadbaskets. For years it was also a valley of death for NATO troops.

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Afghanistan
3:39 am
Sun March 10, 2013

Sniffing Out Bombs In Afghanistan: A Job That's Gone To The Dogs

Military Police Sgt. Joshua Hancock and Nero, his Dutch shepherd, play at Forward Operating Base Frontenac in Kandahar province in southern Afghanistan. Nero is trained to sniff out improvised explosive devices, or IEDs, and to attack.
Sean Carberry NPR

Originally published on Mon March 11, 2013 10:42 am

Lucy is a stereotypically giddy black labradoodle. She's not what you picture when you think of a military dog serving on the front lines in Afghanistan. She wiggles around the room chasing her tennis ball and thinks my microphone cover is a chew toy.

But her handler, Spc. Heath Garcia, says when Lucy is on a mission, she's all business. She's highly trained to sniff out improvised explosive devices, or IEDs, which are the No. 1 killer of civilians and troops in Afghanistan.

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Afghanistan
12:59 am
Fri March 1, 2013

New Afghan Challenge For U.S.: Shipping Stuff Out

A pair of mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicles are lined up for a convoy to Kandahar Airfield. One of the trucks broke down before leaving Forward Operating Base Frontenac. The unit has to move out 50 vehicles from the compound.
Sean Carberry/NPR

Originally published on Fri March 1, 2013 6:12 am

In addition to training and equipping Afghan soldiers, U.S. forces in Afghanistan have another critical mission: packing up more than 11 years worth of equipment and sending it home. The number of containers to move out is in the six figures, and some question whether everything can be shipped out by the end of 2014.

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Afghanistan
1:57 pm
Wed February 20, 2013

The Afghan Battle Over A Law To Protect Women

Students in Kabul protest violence against women in Kabul last fall. Afghan President Hamid Karzai issued a decree in 2009 protecting women's rights, but parliament has not passed a law making the decree permanent.
Mohammad Ismail Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Wed February 20, 2013 4:11 pm

Afghan President Hamid Karzai issued a decree in 2009 banning violence against women. But the parliament, which is currently on its winter recess, has been unable to pass it and give it permanence as a law.

There's major disagreement on key provisions where Islamic and secular law come into conflict. And activists say the gains made in women's rights since the fall of the Taliban in 2001 are slipping away.

Masooda Karokhi, a female member of parliament, has been pushing to get the proposal through the male-dominated legislature.

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Afghanistan
3:24 pm
Tue February 19, 2013

Civilian Casualties In Afghan War Dip For First Time In Six Years

Originally published on Tue February 19, 2013 4:42 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

In the war in Afghanistan, civilian casualties have decreased for the first time in six years. That's according to a U.N. annual report released today. Still, as we hear from NPR's Sean Carberry in Kabul, that's about the extent of the good news in the report.

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Afghanistan
3:20 am
Sun February 17, 2013

Searching For Ibrahim

Ibrahim Gumus was 16 when he ran away from his home in Turkey to join al-Qaida. This is the photo his father — who traveled to Afghanistan to try and find him — carries in his wallet.
Courtesy of Farhettin Gumus

Originally published on Sun February 17, 2013 4:23 am

Over the years, al-Qaida has recruited young men in the Arab world, Africa and Central Asia, including Afghanistan. The group has also had some success in luring followers from Turkey.

Last month, Fahrettin Gumus, a retired security guard from Turkey's northwestern province of Bursa, went to Afghanistan in search of his son, who he had last heard from three years earlier.

The small-framed 57-year old says he often worried about his son Ibrahim, but he never through he'd go through with his plan to join al-Qaida.

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The Two-Way
11:07 am
Thu February 14, 2013

Airstrike In Afghanistan Renews Concerns Over Civilian Casualties

Gen. Joseph Dunford, the new U.S. and International Security Assistance Force, or ISAF, commander in Afghanistan, has only been in charge for a few days, and already he's been summoned to Afghan President Hamid Karzai's office for what looks like a dressing down, according to a press release from the president's office.

Dunford was called in to discuss what was initially reported as an ISAF airstrike in Kunar province that killed 10 civilians late Tuesday night.

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Afghanistan
3:09 am
Sat February 9, 2013

Afghanistan, Pakistan Seek A Fatwa Against Suicide Attacks

Afghan police and officials visit the site of a suicide attack in Kabul in September. A suicide bomber blew himself up alongside a minivan carrying foreigners on a major highway leading to the international airport in the Afghan capital, police said, killing at least 10 people, including nine foreigners.
Massoud Hossaini AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Sat February 9, 2013 8:21 pm

The Muhammad Mustafa mosque sits in a fairly well-off part of Kabul where government employees and some high-ranking officials live. Muhammad Ehsan Saiqal, a moderate, 54-year-old Muslim who welcomes girls into his Quran classes, is the imam. The slight, gray-bearded cleric preaches against suicide bombings.

"Islam doesn't permit suicide attacks," he says. "If someone kills any Muslim without any cause, under Shariah law [Islamic law] it means that he kills the whole Muslim world."

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Afghanistan
10:52 am
Wed February 6, 2013

U.S., Afghanistan At Odds Over Weapons Wish List

Afghan soldiers conduct an artillery training exercise in the northwest province of Badghis in July 2012.
Sean Carberry NPR

Originally published on Wed February 6, 2013 4:12 pm

The U.S. and the international community have pledged $16 billion to support Afghan security forces after NATO troops complete their drawdown at the end of 2014. That money covers the cost of troops and equipment.

But just what equipment will be provided? Afghan military officials want big-ticket planes, tanks and other conventional weapons.

The U.S., however, says the Afghans need to get their strategic priorities in order, and focus less on prestige hardware and more on weaponry and equipment suitable for counterinsurgency warfare.

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