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

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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2:45pm

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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