Sultan Mohammed Munadi: Shining a light in darkness

By Bob Dietz/Asia Program Coordinator on September 9, 2009 3:46 PM ET

On my first trip to Kabul for CPJ in July 2006, I met Sultan Mohammed Munadi at The New York Times bureau. Munadi, who was killed today, was working on a story when I walked in, but he took time to help me find a driver. 

For the next 10 days or so I rattled around the city in a beat-up Corolla with a broken windshield and worse shocks. The driver, also Mohammed, spoke no English, and I found that resorting to my road-block Arabic didn’t help much. So Munadi was at the top of our speed dials when we needed to communicate.

One noon it turned out that Munadi was only a block away when we called for help. He suggested we all have lunch, which we did in an Indian restaurant. I learned that driver Mohammed, wiry, grizzled, with a slight limp, wearing the traditional kalwar shameeze that was in about the same frayed condition as his Corolla, had been a fighter, an “RPG boy,” for Ahmed Shah Massoud, one of the factional leaders who waged war against the Russians. We all spoke of our families, of our children. It took a lot of explaining from me to get them to understand what CPJ was all about— I think they were both skeptical. With Munadi’s help the talk flowed easily and naturally. It was a great lunch, not for the food but for the company.

If you want to get a sense of Munadi, read his blog entry on The New York Times Web site. The full text is at “Hell? No. I Won’t Go,” but here’s a quote that reflects what men, and women, who work as journalists in Afghanistan are all about:

. . . at the age of 34, it is difficult to be away from my country. I would not leave Afghanistan. I have passed the very darkest times of my country, when there was war and insecurity. I was maybe four or five years old when we went from my village into the mountains and the caves to hide, because the Soviets were bombing. I have passed those times, and the time of the Taliban when I could not even go to Kabul, inside my country. It was like being in a prison.

In the year-end essay I wrote for the 2006 edition of our annual Attacks on the Press, I quoted Carlotta Gall, the Times’ Kabul bureau chief. The situation was bad in Afghanistan and getting worse, but she still saw an opportunity for a turnaround. I quoted her as saying: “The ruthlessness has increased over the year and has been specifically aimed at intimidating people. Will this become like Chechnya where journalists were attacked outright? I’m waiting to see.”

Right now, I worry that time may be arriving.


Thank God Farrell is alive, but it is awful the interpreter had to die in the process.

It's unbelievable how Western media reduce journalists who are not Western to the position of 'interpreter' or 'local' or 'assistant' when often they know all there is to know about journalism, and more. Thank God Farrell is alive but it's dreadful that another journalist who was not British had to die. Not just an 'interpreter', 'local' or 'assistant'. We are ALL journalists.

It's unbelievable how Western media reduce journalists who are not Western to the position of 'interpreter' or 'local' or 'assistant' when often they know all there is to know about journalism, and more. Thank God Farrell is alive but it's dreadful that another journalist who was not British had to die. Not just an 'interpreter', 'local' or 'assistant'. We are ALL journalists.

The CPJ had a chance of meeting My causin Sultan Munadi, i very much wished they could save him while they have sighted that Sultan was shot by unknown side, local people watching the senario in the field already called Sultans family and told them that the British Forces did not let Munadi to get on the helicopter, they shot him dead. We dont know who and how to believe, but one thing every one knows that Sultans dead was as mesterious as NAQSHBANs dead. Strong belief says one thing " They were shot be foriegners"

A true patriot has paid the ultimate price for his love of his country, May his soul rest in peace and let me pray for peace and security in Afghanistan.
Another big loss to Afghanistan and Afghan Journalists.

Ahmad Jawaid Sarhal September 12, 2009 2:01:55 AM ET

This is the result of working for foregners these bastards killed him. May his soul rest in peace.

As a very close friend and a former colleague, who worked jointly with Sultan Munadi for more than seven years (over 3 years for ICRC and more than 4 years for New York Times between 1998 - 2006), I would like to see a thorough investigation on Sultan's suspicious killing. There are so many questions that the British government has to answer regarding the raid that the British commandos launched for rescue of their countryman, which caused the death of Sultan Mohammad Mounadi, who left young widow with two children (one 3 years old and another only six months old) with no one to support the family in the war torn Afghanistan.

I am incredibly sad hearing about this terribly incident. As a student at the university of Erfurt, Germany I got to know Sultan as a very nice and reflective person. Although he was 12 years older than me, he and his afghan collegues came to a party once that some mates and me organized. We chatted about different things and he told me about his country.
How sorry I am to hear that he is dead. Vanished, gone. And we would stand there and chit-chat.

This is not the first one and wont be the last one who loses his life mysteriously. Several other journalists, translators...lost their life in similar situations. It really proves the rumors and beleifs of people who say that there are something going on secretly and the one who finds out this secret, the result is like this one. I hope that CPJ continues its advocacy and request for doing a real investigation about this case. Although it wouldnt change anything, unfortunately people don't trust foreigners now as they did at the beginning...

We know what is ware and how the people die in a ware, but the investigations shows that Sultan Munadi was not killed during the war between UK Special Force and Taliban, he was killed when there was no Talib and he was shot under his chin a little on left side and also we have prove that the house owner who had Stephen Farrel and Sultan Munadi at that night in his house, said that after the escape of taliban Both of them Stephen Farrel and Sultan Munadi left the house and went toward the UKSP helicopters the next morning they found the dead body of Sultan Munadi at the place where the helicopters were landed, and after the criminal investigations and body checkup, it was clear that Sultan Munadi was not killed by Taliban, he was killed by UK Special force when all the operation was ended and Sultan Munadi was just at the foot of helicopter to get in at this time he was shot and they left the dead body on the spot. we should try to understand the realities and facts, I follow the story of Sultan Munadi and I realize that some people are trying to hide the realities and try to change the story of Sultan Munadi in a different way, as a Friend and Family member of Sultan Munadi I thank all the people who are trying to see the facts specially what happened to Sultan Munadi.

Thanks for understanding God will safe all of us from these kind of accidents.

Sultan Munadi Family member and childhood friend.

i know that what a personality was sultan.i was a close friend to him.he was a very kind and intelegent man.i never foget that date(27 sunabula)it was a very bad date to me i will never forget it and i have never seen like him a man

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