NPR: Quil Lawrence

David Aquila ("Quil") Lawrence is an award-winning correspondent for NPR News, covering the millions of Americans who deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan as they transition to life back at home.

Previously, Lawrence served as NPR's Bureau Chief in Kabul. He joined NPR in 2009 as Baghdad Bureau Chief – capping off ten years of reporting in Iraq and all the bordering countries. That experience made the foundation for his first book Invisible Nation: How the Kurds' Quest for Statehood is Shaping Iraq and the Middle East, published in 2008.

Before coming to NPR, Lawrence was based in Jerusalem, as Middle East correspondent for The World, a BBC/PRI co-production. For the BBC he covered the fall of the Taliban in December 2001 and returned to Afghanistan periodically to report on development, the drug trade and insurgency.

Lawrence began his career as a freelancer for NPR and various newspapers while based in Bogota, Colombia, covering Latin America. Other reporting trips took him to Sudan, Morocco, Cuba, Pakistan and Iran.

A native of Maine, Lawrence studied history at Brandeis University, with concentrations in the Middle East and Latin America. He is fluent in Spanish and conversant in Arabic.

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12:01am

Mon February 20, 2012
Health

Army Moves To Act Fast On Battlefield Brain Injuries

Traumatic brain injuries are most often caused by powerful blasts from improvised explosive devices. A roadside bomb explodes and the concussive effect violently shakes the brain inside the skull.
Stefano Rellandini Reuters /Landov

Nineteen-year-old Army Pvt. Cody Dollman has a look in his eyes that makes you think he probably used to fight much bigger kids on the playground back home in Wichita, Kan. He says he always wanted to be a soldier — both his grandfathers served in the military — but he's the first in his family to see action overseas.

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7:05am

Fri February 17, 2012
Remembrances

Remembering 'Intrepid Storyteller' Anthony Shadid

Originally published on Wed May 23, 2012 11:01 am

New York Times journalist Anthony Shadid (second from right) reported from Embaba, a neighborhood in Cairo, in February 2011 during the revolution that toppled Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.
Ed Ou Getty Images

I met Anthony Shadid on a ruined airstrip in western Afghanistan in the winter of 2001-'02. He was sporting a beard and longer hair in those days that made him look a little like a crusading Arab warrior. We spoke briefly and exchanged a few bits of useful news about the place. As I recall his face now, I realize Anthony's secret: His sincerity was piercing, disarming and infectious.

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3:15pm

Tue February 14, 2012
Afghanistan

Snowstorms Take A Toll In Afghan Refugee Camps

Aw Muhammad, a resident of a refugee camp in western Kabul, pulls back a shade as one of his six surviving children looks out on the snow. Afghanistan is suffering one of its harshest winters in many years.
Quil Lawrence NPR

Kabul's fourth snowstorm in the past month brought children out to play across the city, including those in the Charahi Qambar refugee camp in the western part of the capital.

Many of the children in the camp don't remember any other life outside of this mud-brick shantytown. Most of their parents fled the southern province of Helmand when the war heated up there four years ago.

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12:01am

Wed February 8, 2012
Afghanistan

Afghans Hedge Bets Amid Mixed Messages From U.S.

Afghan men walk past American soldiers in Ghazni province on Thursday. U.S. and Afghan officials are in talks that will determine how many American troops stay in Afghanistan after the NATO mission ends in 2014.
AFP AFP/Getty Images

After a long hiatus, the Afghan and U.S. governments this week reopened talks on a strategic partnership that will determine how many American troops stay in Afghanistan past the end of the NATO mission in 2014.

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3:18pm

Fri February 3, 2012
Afghanistan

Afghans View Peace Talks With Hope, Suspicion

Taliban fighters walk with their weapons after joining Afghan government forces during a ceremony in Herat province, last month. Thirty fighters left the Taliban to join government forces in western Afghanistan. The Taliban announced recently that they would open a political office in Qatar ahead of talks with Washington.
Aref Karimi AFP/Getty Images

The surprise announcement last month that the U.S. and the Taliban could soon begin peace talks in the Gulf state of Qatar may have increased the chances of a negotiated settlement in Afghanistan.

But Afghans are treating the prospect with equal measures of hope and suspicion — perhaps more of the latter from the government of President Hamid Karzai.

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3:04pm

Tue January 17, 2012
Afghanistan

Gains In Afghan Health: Too Good To Be True?

Originally published on Tue January 17, 2012 7:19 pm

A nurse weighs an Afghan child at a U.S.-funded clinic in Farza, Afghanistan, in September. A new U.S.-sponsored survey shows dramatic gains in life expectancy and other aspects of health care in Afghanistan. But some experts are questioning the accuracy of the results.
John Moore Getty Images

A U.S.-sponsored mortality survey released last year announced huge improvements in health across Afghanistan. But the gains are so great that experts are still arguing about whether it's correct.

During three decades of war, Afghanistan remained a black hole of health information. The few mortality studies looked at a small slice of the population and then extrapolated.

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12:01am

Fri January 13, 2012
Afghanistan

In Afghanistan, Some Former Taliban Become Police

Originally published on Fri January 13, 2012 11:50 am

The northern Afghan town of Char Bolak is guarded by the Critical Infrastructure Police, an auxiliary police program. The U.S. is increasingly relying on ad hoc local militias to fight the Taliban, but residents and government officials have concerns about the militias.
Quil Lawrence NPR

NATO officials say they have reversed a disturbing trend in northern Afghanistan.

In 2009 and 2010, Taliban insurgents made inroads across the north of the country, which had been secure for years. NATO says that last year it brought the north back under control, but Afghan officials say it's thanks to one of the most controversial American tactics here: the use of ad hoc local militias.

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3:09pm

Wed January 11, 2012
Afghanistan

Afghan Announcements Annoy U.S., Hurt Relations

Afghan President Hamid Karzai, shown here during a press conference with U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta in Kabul last month, has become increasingly combative toward the U.S. recently.
Massoud Hossaini AFP/Getty Images

U.S.-Pakistan ties are virtually frozen. And now, relations between Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Washington are once again getting frosty.

Over the weekend Karzai surprised the Americans with the demand that the largest U.S.-run prison be turned over to Afghan control much sooner that planned.

It's the latest in a series of announcements by the Afghan government that sometimes appear designed to embarrass and annoy U.S. officials, as well as complicate American plans to withdraw troops from Afghanistan.

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12:00am

Fri December 30, 2011
The Record

Music In Afghanistan A Sensitive Subject

Originally published on Fri December 30, 2011 12:01 am

A performance at the Afghan National Institute of Music in November of 2010.
Daniel Wilkinson U.S. Embassy Kabul Afghanistan/flickr.com

Afghanistan sits at a crossroads between central Asia, Iran and the Indian subcontinent, and the country's music reflects that. Kabul hosted two international music festivals this fall — one traditional, the other a rock concert — but music is still a sensitive issue. International donors, including the U.S., have helped refurbish a conservatory in Kabul, but some of the students say they still face disapproval from extremist elements, even at the university.

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3:57pm

Thu December 29, 2011
Environment

U.S. Military Tests Out Green Tech In Afghanistan

Originally published on Thu December 29, 2011 8:19 pm

In this photo released by the U.S. Marines and taken in December 2010, Lance Cpl. Dakota Hicks, from Laharpe, Ill., connects a radio battery to a portable solar panel communication system in Sangin District, in Afghanistan.The U.S. military is trying to wean itself off reliance on fossil fuels by employing solar energy and biofuels, among other measures.
Gunnery Sgt. William Price Small AP

The heavy, mine-resistant vehicles that almost all U.S. military personnel use to move about Afghanistan are gas guzzlers. And even though the U.S. military buys that fuel at a reasonable price, the energy it takes to fly it and truck it to remote parts of Afghanistan drives the price into the stratosphere.

There's also a much greater cost, says Ray Mabus, secretary of the U.S. Navy.

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4:20pm

Tue December 13, 2011
Afghanistan

For U.S. Troops, Fighting Starts At Afghan Border

Originally published on Tue December 13, 2011 11:37 pm

Staff Sgt. Joshua White (center), Command Sgt. Maj. John Troxell (left) and Brigade Sgt. Maj. Mike Boom (right) observe a joint patrol of U.S. Army and Afghan National Army soldiers and Afghan police in Paktika province, Afghanistan, on Oct. 3. The mountainous border between Afghanistan and Pakistan has become a new front line in the Afghan war.
Matt Ford AP

The mountains along the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan would be cruel enough without the war raging on below — cliffs drop from 8,000-foot peaks that are spotted with only a few trees among the rocks.

But Afghanistan's eastern border has become the focus of the conflict as militants plot their attacks inside Pakistan, then slip across the rugged frontier to carry them out.

In Afghanistan's southeast Paktika province, Forward Operating Base Tillman looks across toward Pakistan over craggy peaks that American troops have nicknamed "Big Ugly" and "Big Nasty."

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3:46pm

Fri December 2, 2011
Afghanistan

For Afghan Women, Rape Law Offers Little Protection

Afghan women walk in the northwestern city of Herat on Nov. 23. Women still have few rights, and can end up in jail on adultery charges when they accuse a man of rape. There are fears that women's rights will be further eroded when Western troops leave the country.
Aref Karimi AFP/Getty Images

This week, Afghan President Hamid Karzai announced the pardon of a 19-year-old Afghan woman who was imprisoned for adultery after being raped by a relative, in a case that has attracted international media coverage.

But what happened to the woman, Gulnaz, who has been in prison for two years, is not an isolated episode.

Many other women have suffered similar fates. A recent U.N. report suggests that laws to protect women in Afghanistan from rape and forced marriage are still not being enforced — with devastating results.

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4:00am

Fri December 2, 2011
Afghanistan

U.S. Troops Monitor Volatile Afghan Province

Steve Inskeep talks to NPR's Quil Lawrence, who is embedded with U.S. forces in a volatile Afghan province near the Pakistani border. They discuss U.S. operations against the Taliban and Haqqani network, and the repercussions of last week's NATO airstrikes on an army border post that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers.

4:00am

Wed November 16, 2011
Afghanistan

Afghan Council To Consider Framework For U.S. Partnership

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

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4:33pm

Thu October 20, 2011
Afghanistan

Despite Recent Killings, Kandahar Appears Stable

Originally published on Thu October 20, 2011 4:42 pm

The assassination of Ahmed Wali Karzai (center, shown in 2009), the half-brother of Afghan President Hamid Karzai, prompted fears of a security breakdown in the southern Afghan city of Kandahar. Ahmed Wali Karzai was rumored to have a hand in everything that went on in the region: tribal affairs, politics and business.

Banaras Khan AFP/Getty Images

This past summer, two assassinations paralyzed the southern Afghan city of Kandahar with fears of a power vacuum.

In the first incident, President Hamid Karzai's half-brother, Ahmed Wali Karzai, considered the unofficial kingpin of the south, was gunned down in July by a close associate. Two weeks later, a Taliban assassin killed the city's mayor, Ghulam Hamidi, with a bomb concealed in his turban.

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12:01am

Thu October 20, 2011
Afghanistan

Afghan Civilians Allegedly Forced Onto Mined Roads

Afghanistan's Panjwai district, southwest of Kandahar city, was a Taliban stronghold until the U.S. troop surge in 2010 began to displace the insurgents.

Allauddin Khan AP

Villagers from a violent part of southern Afghanistan say that Afghan troops, along with several American mentors, forced civilians to march ahead of soldiers on roads where the Taliban were believed to have planted bombs and landmines.

No one was hurt. But if the allegations are true, the act would appear to violate the Geneva Conventions governing the treatment of civilians. The episode also raises questions about how civilians are caught between the two sides in the war.

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4:06pm

Fri October 7, 2011
Afghanistan

In Afghanistan, Performance Artist Packs Up His Bling

Aman Mojedidi, who grew up in Jacksonville, Fla., moved to Afghanistan in 2003 because he thought his homeland was finally on the mend. The guerrilla artist is also known as the Jihadi Gangsta, and he has provoked controversy and laughter with his work.

Courtesy of Aman Mojedidi

Performance artist Aman Mojedidi moved from the U.S. to Afghanistan in 2003, as one of what he says were many Afghan-Americans and Afghan-Europeans who thought their homeland was finally on the mend.

"It was really part of that wave of hyphenated Afghans and internationals wanting to come to Afghanistan, post-Taliban, [to] do something, rebuild, reconstruct, that kind of thing," he says.

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8:00am

Sun October 2, 2011
Afghanistan

Karzai Breaks Off Talks With The Taliban

In a surprising about-face, Afghan President Hamid Karzai appears to be abandoning his government's long-standing effort to hold peace talks with the Taliban in Pakistan, saying they aren't serious about negotiations. NPR's Quil Lawrence reports.

4:01am

Fri September 30, 2011
Afghanistan

Afghan Factions Vie For Position Amid Civil War Fears

Originally published on Fri September 30, 2011 2:54 pm

Afghans hold portraits of former President Burhanuddin Rabbani, as they shout anti-government slogans during a demonstration in Kabul on Tuesday. Last week's killing of Rabbani, an ethnic Tajik, was the latest targeting his party and it has stoked fears of increased factionalism.
Shah Marai AFP/Getty Images

Last week's assassination of the former Afghan president, Burhanuddin Rabbani, not only dashed hopes for peace negotiations, it also increased the talk of civil war.

It came at the time that American troops are preparing to begin a gradual withdrawal from Afghanistan, exposing deep anxiety among Afghans about what lies ahead.

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4:48pm

Mon September 26, 2011
Afghanistan

Killing Deals Another Blow To Afghan Peace Talks

Originally published on Mon September 26, 2011 8:22 pm

Afghans carry the coffin of Afghanistan High Peace Council head and former President Burhanuddin Rabbani during his burial ceremony in Kabul, Sept. 23. A suicide bomber assassinated Rabbani on Sept. 20, which further complicates the thorny issue of negotiating with the Taliban.
Ahmad Masood AFP/Getty Images

Afghanistan buried a former president last week, but there is concern in Kabul that something else may have been buried as well: the peace process. In nearly two years since the U.S. opened the prospect of negotiations with the Taliban, progress has been hard to discern.

The assassination of Burhanuddin Rabbani, who was also the head of Afghanistan's High Peace Council, may have quashed any negotiations that were under way. It also may have given new strength to those who never supported the idea of talking with the Taliban.

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5:00am

Mon September 26, 2011
Afghanistan

Afghan Women Fight Back, Preserve Shelters

Originally published on Mon September 26, 2011 10:09 am

Sakina sits with her 18-month-old son, Shafiq, at a women's shelter in Bamiyan, in central Afghanistan, last October. Sakina spent seven months in prison for leaving a forced marriage. The Afghan government recently backed down from a plan to take control of women's shelters, and women's groups are hailing it as a victory.
Paula Bronstein Getty Images

In Afghanistan, women's groups are claiming a rare victory.

Last winter, the government was planning to bring battered women's shelters under government control.

Women's rights advocates sprang into action, complaining that the new rules would turn shelters into virtual prisons for women who had run away from home because of abuse. But after a flurry of media attention, the Afghan government agreed to re-examine the issue. And this month, President Hamid Karzai's Cabinet quietly approved a new draft that has support from women's groups.

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2:12pm

Mon September 19, 2011
Afghanistan

Afghan Parliament Still Stymied By Election Dispute

Protesters in Kabul, Afghanistan, demonstrate against the results of last September's parliamentary poll, Jan. 23, 2011. A year after the elections were held, Afghan President Hamid Karzai and lawmakers are still fighting over the results, and the Parliament has accomplished very little.
Musadeq Sadeq AP

Last weekend marked a milestone for Afghanistan's Parliament that should have been cause for celebration: It's been a year since Afghans braved the threat of insurgent violence to go to the polls to pick a new legislature.

But a dispute over election results has smoldered between President Hamid Karzai and lawmakers ever since. And the resulting gridlock has prevented the new parliament from passing a single notable law, confirming any of the president's ministers, or giving any oversight to the president or his cabinet.

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5:44am

Sun September 11, 2011
Afghanistan

Bomb Wounds Dozens Of U.S. Soldiers In Afghanistan

At least 77 American soldiers are wounded after a truck bomb targeted a base west of Kabul. Two separate roadside bombs have killed 10 Afghan civilians.

At an American military base in Wardak Province, a truck full of firewood rammed into the main gate before exploding in flames and shrapnel. Military officials said a blast wall absorbed most of the impact, but nearly 100 Afghan and American personnel suffered injuries. Wardak borders the Afghan capital, Kabul, but the province is considered to be partially under Taliban control.

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3:19pm

Fri September 9, 2011
Reflecting On Sept. 11, 2001

In Afghanistan, Assessing A Rebel Leader's Legacy

Originally published on Wed May 23, 2012 11:26 am

Shown here in 1997, the "Lion of the Panjshir," Ahmad Shah Massoud (left), fought against the Soviets in the 1980s, was a central figure in the Afghan civil war of the '90s and led the resistance against the Taliban until his death on Sept. 9, 2001, the victim of al-Qaida suicide bombers.
Emmanuel Dunand AFP/Getty Images

Ten years ago Friday, a team of al-Qaida agents carried out an assassination that was the first step in their plan leading to the Sept. 11 attacks. In the north of Afghanistan, suicide bombers posing as journalists killed Ahmad Shah Massoud, the most famous leader of Afghan resistance against Taliban rule.

Today, posters of Massoud still adorn shops around northern Afghanistan, and admirers held a huge commemoration of him Friday near his home.

But 10 years after his death, Massoud's legacy has been overshadowed by a grueling war that grinds on with no end in sight.

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4:16pm

Thu September 8, 2011
Reflecting On Sept. 11, 2001

For Young Afghans, History's Lessons Lost?

Afghanistan is a country of the young: According to best estimates, half the population was under age 10 when the Sept. 11 attacks took place a decade ago. Now, a generation of Afghans has very little knowledge about the events that so transformed their country. In this photo, Afghan children gather for school in Old Kabul, Aug. 25, 2010.
Yuri Cortez AFP/Getty Images

Afghanistan is, perhaps, the country most transformed by the Sept. 11 attacks. And yet most Afghans have no clear memories of those world-changing events because, according to best estimates, most of the country's current population was under the age of 10 at that time.

This generation of Afghans has gone from having no television or Internet to having access to a torrent of media information without much experience filtering truth from rumor.

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12:01am

Fri September 2, 2011
Reflecting On Sept. 11, 2001

In Afghanistan, Reviewing A Decade Of Promises

U.S. Marines patrol with Afghan forces through a harvested poppy field in Northern Marjah in southern Afghanistan's Helmand province. Ten years after the fall of the Taliban, progress on U.S. pledges to help Afghanistan is mixed.
David Gilkey NPR/Redux

People living in Afghanistan 10 years ago had little electricity, few radios and almost no televisions to alert them of the Sept. 11 attacks in New York and Washington. The news didn't really reach across the country until the American bombing campaign and invasion began a month later. The fall of the Taliban regime at the end of 2001 and the flood of international aid raised hope in Afghanistan.

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12:01am

Wed August 31, 2011
Afghanistan

Training Afghans To Take Over Bomb-Defusing Efforts

U.S. soldiers check for land mines on a canal running through Highway 1 in Afghanistan's Kandahar province, Aug. 6. Improvised explosive devices, or IEDs, are the Taliban's weapon of choice and are the leading killer of civilians and soldiers in Afghanistan.
Romeo Gacad AFP/Getty Images

August brought a grim new statistic from Afghanistan: The death of at least 66 U.S. soldiers, making it the deadliest month for U.S. troops in nearly 10 years of war.

Nearly half of those casualties were the result of the rare shootdown of a Chinook helicopter packed with U.S. Navy SEALs. Of the remaining casualties, many were caused by what the military calls improvised explosive devices, or IEDS — homemade land mines, bombs and booby traps.

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3:35pm

Mon August 29, 2011
Afghanistan

Afghan President Pardons Would-Be Suicide Bombers

Incarcerated children sit at the Kabul Juvenile Rehabilitation Center May 18, in Kabul, Afghanistan. The four boys were believed to have been recruited by the Taliban as suicide bombers. In an end-of-Ramadan tradition, President Hamid Karzai recently ordered the release of two dozen children held as suspected suicide bombers.
Paula Bronstein Getty Images

As part of the traditional celebration of the end of Ramadan, Afghan President Hamid Karzai has pardoned prisoners from Kabul's juvenile detention center. This time it was two dozen youths who had been arrested for planned or attempted suicide bomb attacks, and many were under the age of 12.

Karzai presented the captured suicide bombers on national television — the youngest only 8 years old.

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2:21pm

Fri July 22, 2011
News

The Taliban's Likely Negotiator With The U.S.

Tayyeb Agha at a Taliban press conference in November 2001 in Kandahar, Afghanistan.
Patrick Aventurier/Gamma Getty

After months of rumors, most observers in Kabul now believe that American officials have met with a Taliban envoy face to face. The most likely interlocutor is Tayyeb Agha, the head of the Taliban political committee and one of a handful of people in the world said to have direct contact with Mullah Omar, the leader of the Taliban.

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6:09pm

Thu July 14, 2011
Afghanistan

U.S. Quietly Halts Scholarship For Afghan Students

Former President George W. Bush speaks to student from the Youth Exchange and Study program at the White House in 2005. The program began in 2004 and ended for Afghan students this year after half of those enrolled fled to Canada.
Alex Wong Getty Images

The U.S. State Department has funded international student exchanges for decades, looking to form lifelong bonds and increase understanding across borders.

One program brought hundreds of Afghan high school students to small communities in the U.S. beginning in 2004.

But this year, the U.S. has quietly suspended the popular youth exchange. The reason? Fear of a dark future in Afghanistan was prompting too many of the students to bail out of the program and seek asylum elsewhere.

Deciding To Flee To Canada

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