Afghanistan: A Search for Truth, By: Bruce G. Richardson – 2007

A Search for Truth

For the People of Afghanistan


There are no secrets that time does not reveal
…Jean Racine, Britannicus (1669)

A Search for Truth was conceived on 5 October 1984, as a result of an ominous threat directed at foreign journalists from the Soviet Ambassador to Pakistan, Vitaly Smirnov. Vitaly Smirnov: “I warn you, and through you, all of your journalist colleagues: stop trying to penetrate Afghanistan with the so-called Mujahideen. From now on the bandits and the so-called journalists, French, American, British, and others accompanying them will be killed. And our units will help the Afghan forces to do it.”

The United States’ response was the (1985) launching of the Afghan Media Project, a program designed to equip and train Afghan journalists in documentary photography with which to record a brutal war the Soviets wished to hide from the world. Administered by the U.S. Information Agency, a number of instructors were dispatched to Peshawar to initiate training including this author in November 1986.

In the wake of that experience and exposure, I made the first of several clandestine trips “inside” as a freelance journalist beginning in 1987. As a result, articles spanning a decades-long writing career were first published in 1988 by Soldier of Fortune magazine.

The text that follows is a record of that journey. As is the nature of the historical investigation, however, it is thus incomplete: as no outsider can know everything about the machinations of those who make war.

Bruce G. Richardson
9 September 2007

A Note on Sources:

One of the most painful principles of our age is that scandals are doomed to be revealed, and to remain stinking there before us, un-excised, unpunished, unfinished.
…Mark Dauner

A Search for Truth is drawn on a variety of sources to include official and unofficial, a summary follows:
KGB officials
Military Archives of the USSR
Soviet military personnel
Authors and historians of: Russia, Afghanistan, Great Britain, Finland, France, United States, Ukraine, Mujahideen leadership, Mujahideen, DRA Ministers, DRA Defense Minister
, DRA Ambassadors, Pre-War Afghan officials
Taliban officials: Ministry
U.S. government sources: (FOI) Freedom of Information Requests, CIA, FBI, USIA
Media: Television and Radio interviews with Soviet/Afghan War principals, Personal Interviews
Academia: Harvard University, University of Nebraska, Omaha
Translation Services: Department of Slavic Languages and Literature, Harvard University, Moscow Information Service (MIS)

In addition to the above, research (published) in the public domain was accessed and forms a vital component of my research. Sources noted from enumerated categories above appear in the following series of articles to amplify and corroborate the text. The material, opinions, perspective, and fidelity of the statements presented in this manuscript are the sole responsibility of the author alone.


A lie travels halfway around the world before the truth has put its boots on.
…Mark Twain

Any book is of necessity a collaborative effort. Sincere thanks are due to the following people for their selfless support and counsel over the past twenty years. This book would not be possible without them.

Ahmad Shah Hotaki, Sayed Khalilollah Hashemeyan, Tariq Bazger, The Husseini family: Sayed Baqiulhaq, Noorulhaq, Asrarulhaq, Ezharulhaq, Samiulhaq, Merajulhaq and Serajulhaq, Hafiz Karzai, Nisar Ahmad Samad, Wahab Nasery, Ayub Khalikyar, Shahi Sadat, Siddieq Noorzoy, Quyyum Kochai, Daoud Abedi, Jalal Wardak, Nabi Misdaq, Ramat Rabi Zirakyar, Farouq Azam, Hassan Kakar, Shaista Wahab, Ikram Gran and Sayed Fazle Akbar.

I must also thank my many Afghan friends who are yet enduring war in the mountains,  villages, and cities of Afghanistan, who allowed me to live amongst them, sharing their grief, stories, and renowned hospitality during a terrible time, and often at great hardship and risk. I am humbled by the recollection of their quiet dignity in the face of appalling suffering. It is to them this book is dedicated.

Part I: The Massoud File
Part II: Afghanistan: In the Vortex of World-Power Rivalry
Part III: Letters

About the author:
During the Soviet-Afghan War, Bruce Richardson made several clandestine trips inside Afghanistan to photograph and report on a brutal war the Soviets wished to hide from the world. His stories and photographs were published by Newsweek, Chicago Tribune, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Tri-Town Transcript, Soldier of Fortune, The Afghan Post, The Afghanistan Mirror, Dawat, Afghanistan Forum, Sabawoon, Haywad, The Diplomat, The Guardian, and several Afghan political party newspapers. Early in the war, the author conducted photo workshops for the various Afghan news bureaus as part of the Afghan Media Project administered by the United States Information Agency. He has been a columnist for the Afghanistan Mirror since 1990 and a regular contributor to The Afghan Post and Dawat over a period of several years. His photographs, books, and articles are part of the Arthur Paul archival collections at the University Library, University of Nebraska, Omaha, and Phototheca/Bibliotheca Afghanica, Liestal, Switzerland.  Educated at Northern Essex Community College and Harvard University, the author lives near Boston with his wife.

 Published by The Afghan Post
Copyright: 2007 Bruce G. Richardson
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system without permission in writing from the publisher.

Portions of the text have heretofore been published in the following publications:
The Afghan Post, The Afghan Mirror, Dawat, Haywad, Afghanistan: Ending the Reign of Soviet Terror, 1996, 1998 and 2005 English Editions, Afghanistan, Ending the Reign of Soviet Terror, 1997 Pashto, and Dari Editions, Intimidation, Subversion, and Pacification: Russian Policy in Transcaucasia, Central Asia and Afghanistan 1996 English/Pashto/Dari Edition.

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data.
Afghanistan: A Search for Truth: Bruce G. Richardson
ISBN: 0-9655813-2-2

  1. Soviet-Afghan War (1979-1989), Soviet Intelligence, Ahmad Shah Massoud, Taliban, History. 96-93021

Published By:
The Afghan Post
P.O. Box 30074
1027 Finch Avenue West
Toronto, Ontario



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