Leeming has been travelling to Afghanistan since 1993.
- I was, by chance, in Afghanistan in 2001 and there met two Moroccans who said they were TV journalists. In fact, they were two of bin Laden’s suicide bombers and on 9th September 2001 blew up themselves and Ahmed Shah Massoud, the leader of the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance. When I returned to England, I wrote an article for The Spectator describing my holiday companions and their rather limited conversation. This led to the publication of the diary I had kept in Afghanistan by Craig Raine in Areté magazine and his intervention led to a contract to write a travel book for Picador.
- 'Why do you want to meet Commander Massoud?' I asked the Moroccans. I remember them exchanging glances.
- 'For our TV film,' he said.
- Afterwards Qhudai said to me, 'I think they are spies.'
- 'But everyone's a spy in Afghanistan,' I said. 'You're a spy.'
- 'But they are Arab spies.' There seems little love lost between Persian speakers and Arabs, so I put this down to racial prejudice.
- We left shortly afterwards, and gave no further thought to the Moroccans, except occasionally to speculate that they were probably still waiting in the Panjshir for a helicopter.