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Around 10 P.M. on August 27, 1998, Malik Saad, the chief of police in Peshawar, Pakistan, received a telephone call saying that a foreigner was lying dead in a local hotel. It was only a week after the American missile strikes on Afghanistan, and the atmosphere in Peshawar was extremely tense—Westerners were staying off the streets, and there was said to be a bounty on the heads of Americans. Saad rushed over to Green’s Hotel, suspecting the worst, and was ushered into Room 304.
A dark-skinned man in local Afghan dress was lying shirtless on the bed, frozen by rigor mortis. One arm was crooked against his face and a dead cigarette was wedged between his lips. The ember from the cigarette had fallen onto his leg and burned a hole through his loose trousers and into the flesh. His face was darkened with pooled blood, and a small trickle of blood had crept out of his right nostril. Found in the room were a stethoscope, a copy of the Koran, a carton of Marlboros, and four syringes. A black bag on the floor contained assorted camera gear and $5,000 in cash. Arrayed on the bed were 10 photographs, some of them showing the dead man accompanied by mujahideen rebels—all of them armed, all of them bearded. There was also a compass, a satellite phone, a fax from CBS News, two video cameras, and a British passport.
The man’s name was Carlos Mavroleon, and he was already known to the authorities. Two days earlier, Mavroleon had been caught by the Pakistan secret police as he tried to sl...