It was 4 a.m. on June 23, 2001, and a few distant stars punctured the darkness above the Uzbek city of Samarkand. I stepped out into the night, leaving the lobby of a concrete, Stalinist-era hotel, accompanied by Abdul Haq, an Afghan Pashtun leader in the anti-Taliban resistance. At his invitation, I was accompanying Haq to his meeting with northern Tajik Commander Ahmed Shah Masood to discuss a strategy to end the long Afghan war.

We climbed into a waiting SUV, along with Haq’s bodyguard and American businessman James Ritchie, a friend of Haq. The driver headed east, toward Dushanbe, the capital of neighboring Tajikistan, a 12-hour drive away. We were scheduled to hold two days of meetings in Dushanbe with Masood, known as “the Lion of the Panjshir,” after the valley from which he hailed in northern Afghanistan. Haq looked...

You do not currently have access to this content.