Nicholas Schmidle

The Hardest Part

ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN The swarms of riot police who spent the day blocking the tree-lined street in front of Benazir Bhutto's house looked ready to battle an entire army of anti-government rioters. Standing stiff and covered with ribbed hard-plastic shells over their arms and legs, they also looked like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Looming around them were concrete barriers, numerous coils of razor wire, and an armored-personnel carrier parked in such a way to trap Bhutto in her house. School-bus-sized paddy-wagons, large enough to hold hundreds of people, waited nearby.

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Islamabad--Abdul Rashid Ghazi, the strategist and brains behind the Taliban-inspired movement that has taken over the Pakistani capital in recent months, may have overplayed his hand. On June 23, just after midnight, a squad of Islamist vigilantes set out from Ghazi's Lal Masjid, or "Red Mosque," in the direction of a Chinese massage parlor across town.

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Radical Sheik

Abdul Rashid Ghazi comes across a little like Jerry Garcia. He wears oval-shaped, wire-rimmed glasses, has a grey, fist-length beard, and sports curly hair that flips wildly around his ears and neckline. He even has the former Grateful Dead frontman's easy smile and chill demeanor. University educated, he talks in idiomatic English, and, during one recent conversation, we even swapped stories about hanging out on the beaches in Thailand. This is a bit surprising, considering that Ghazi and his brother, Maulana Abdul Aziz, are leading an Islamic revolution in Pakistan.

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