Born in Algeria, Nabil arrived in France as an infant. His first language is French and his half-siblings from his father’s first marriage are all French citizens—one even earned a National Medal of Honor for his service in the French army. But because Nabil was born in Algeria, earning his French citizenship was a process. At 21, he hired an immigration lawyer to file his residency papers. The lawyer told him to leave the country while the papers were processed. Not wanting to return to Algeria, Nabil bought a fake passport, and then took off to England.

London can be a rough place for immigrants without the proper paperwork. Going broke while working off the books at a pizzeria, Nabil took the advice of a friend from his mosque: in Afghanistan, living was cheap, papers were superfluous, and you could study the Qur’an while the bureaucratic wheels churned in France. So, in the spring of 2001, Nabil decided to have an adventure.

Nabil’s first stop was a Kabul guesthouse, where his host gave him a gun for self-defense. Then, in September, everything changed when two planes smashed into the World Trade Center.

As American bombs fell on Afghanistan, Nabil started hearing reports that locals were rounding up Arabs. With his housemates, he fled into what the Department of Defense described as the Tora Bora mountains. Wounded by US bombs while trying to cross the border, a few “friendly” townspeople brought Nabil to a local hospital.

Everything about this account sounds like bullshit; middle class arab “just goes” to Afghanistan in the midst of a Muslim theocratic revolution and wants people not to think he is some kind of Muslim extremist? Bullshit –