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In memory of my friend Alexandros Petersen – a victim of the Taliban

20 January 2014

6:23 PM

20 January 2014

6:23 PM

On Friday a Taliban suicide bomber detonated in downtown Kabul in the doorway of a Lebanese restaurant which was popular with foreigners. Two accomplices then went into the restaurant and gunned down the people inside.

The victims included a Labour party candidate for the forthcoming European elections, the IMF’s country director and a young Afghan couple. They also included a friend and colleague, Alexandros Petersen.

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Educated in London, Alex worked for some years at the Henry Jackson Society as well as at the Atlantic Council and the Woodrow Wilson Center. He had recently joined the political science faculty of the American University in Afghanistan.

Alex was a deeply impressive individual with a list of academic and scholarly accomplishments to his name and a fine future ahead of him. Smart in every usage of the word, he was also adventurous and took an active as well as academic interest in the countries he wrote about. A specialist on energy as well as grand strategy, he could be relied on to crop up and elucidate on the situation in an extraordinary number of places. Before last year’s elections, I bumped into him in Tbilisi, and over drinks Alex led me through the current and historic troubles of Georgia and its neighbours with a fluidity and range that would have been envied by any scholar twice his age. It was a pleasure to help launch his subsequent HJS report on how to bring about a peaceful solution to Georgia’s conflicts.

We had started off together, and I had looked forward to many such encounters over the years ahead. My thoughts are with his family. This is just to note and mourn the loss of someone who had much to give and, despite all his achievements and travels, had barely started out on his journey.


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Show comments
  • Alienor d’Aquitaine

    I´m far from blaming anyone… But, we, scholars, in international politics have to be where we r needed and when needed… Feeling so sad for Alex… Brilliant scholar and charming guy….

  • Jim

    First and foremost RIP to all those that lost their lives that Friday , secondly as part of a security team currently working in Kabul at the minute i must add this attack was totally predictable and will undoubtedly be repeated in the coming months given the transition of military efforts. The impunity at which foreign employees and NGO officials frequent these restaurants and shops whilst Kabul borders on sheer lunacy , in fact some of these are so routinely visited that it wouldn’t take much more than the most basic insurgent plan to be put in place to cause genuine attrition.
    Unfortunately the advice of the security teams is often dismissed off hand making this even more of a concern.

    This will become the norm if the situational awareness is not stepped up by those working in Kabul.

  • roger

    Another sad wasted life.
    I hate to add to grief but what is any intelligent person not under orders doing in Kabul?

  • bwims

    If a government used brainwashing techniques to turn its soldiers into suicide bombers, it would be rightly criticised. Why does Islam get away with it?

  • Kate Sampsell-Willmann

    Alex was my friend and colleague at the American University of Central Asia in Kyrgyzstan. I’m still shaken. Alex was the best of us.

  • disqus_9I6C4azbIA

    Why was Mr Petersen in occupied Afghanistan. He was an academic, in what field is not specified but he was working for the Americans and was presumably a US citizen educated somewhere or other in London. His death whilst regrettable, but as we have turned the country into a war zone is not surprising or unfortunately exceptional.

    • OldSlaughter

      “we have turned the country into a war zone ”

      Yeah, it was Disney World before that.

      • roger

        No, it was just a distant backward country that liked to export opium/heroin and islamic terror, our pathetic ‘war’ has not protected Britain from either.

        • disqus_9I6C4azbIA

          Britain has a history of exporting opium and the exporters were given knighthoods by Queen Vic. These suppliers have a market in the Christian countries. Are you one of those left wingers who are opposed to profit ?

      • disqus_9I6C4azbIA

        Of course it was. We supported the Islamic extremists against the Soviet Union attempts to support the secular government of the country. As such we left them with Disney World so why did the English then invade the country and leave it a waste land?

        • Owen_Morgan

          The first thing that the Russians did, when they invaded Afghanistan in 1979, was kill the existing president. Is that your idea of “supporting the secular government”?

  • Re-Leaf

    Very sad indeed. Particulartly, since he had the great misfortune to work with Murray – a first-class reprobate, if ever I saw one. Ha ha, hardy har har!

    P.S. Don’t forget to ‘DISLIKE’ or ‘IGNORE’ – it bringeth me pleasure either way.

  • Riz

    RIP to all the children and women of Afghanistan who didn’t ask for this whirlwind to be reeped on their nation. Don’t forget the women and children. Jesus weeps for them and God will give them peace.

  • luke Goodger

    This happens every day, and good people like Petersen are the ones who fall. More and more I feel that we will lose if we don’t stand up and do something. Look at the tally, its nearing 400 UK born fighters in Syria, just one example of a global enemy with sharper teeth than we. Only a few people in my generation care- its just so depressing.

    • roger

      Hopefully the Assad forces will deal with the 400 fighters in a way the British government (sic) is not up to doing.

      • ROBERT BROWN

        Correct Roger, we must barr their re-entry into this country, take their passports and banish them, their families here too. We must get tough on Islam before it consumes us.

  • Lynn Nguyen

    Thanks for a thoughtful post Doug. I met Alex when I was interning at the Atlantic Council and became friends after I left. Much like you, I always imagined seeing Alex every few months, before or after some international trip to Central Asia to interview someone for his next piece, or to advise on some issue. It’s still unbelievable to me. He’s just on another trip, I’ll see him again in Washington or London.

  • Lynn Nguyen

    Thanks for a thoughtful post Doug. I met Alex when I was interning at the Atlantic Council and became friends after I left. Much like you, I always imagined seeing Alex every few months, before or after some international trip to Central Asia to interview someone for his next piece, or to advise on some issue. It’s still unbelievable to me. He’s just on another trip, I’ll see him again in Washington or London.

    • Fencesitter

      Thanks, Douglas, for a fine tribute. I feel sure Mr Petersen’s family will appreciate it.

  • andy_gill

    It is good to be reminded of the individual tragedies caused by these terrorist atrocities. In the race to blame the west the victims of Islmaofascism are seldom remembered as human beings, indeed the liberal narrative of western guilt requires they be faceless.

    • Lexicat

      Your first sentence is eminently correct, appreciated and heartily supported. Your second sentence is full of bias and unsupported political propaganda.

  • JD

    God bless his family

  • David Kay

    RIP

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