Type: Seminar

First Casualty: The Untold Story of the CIA Mission to Avenge 9/11

Book talk


Toby Harnden, Orwell Prize winner, author and veteran foreign correspondent

Date & time

Mar 6, 2023, 11:30 am-12:45 pm EST


In conversation with Javed Ali, Associate Professor of Practice at the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, Toby Harnden will discuss his book First Casualty: The Untold Story of the CIA Mission to Avenge 9/11. Drawing on unprecedented access to all six surviving members of Team Alpha - the first Americans behind enemy lines in Afghanistan after the 9/11 terrorist attacks of 2001 - Harnden tells the story of how the CIA and Green Berets infiltrated into the mountains of northern Afghanistan in a mission reminiscent of the OSS in World War II. He explains how the CIA-led operation - in which Americans clad in Afghan garb worked with the indigenous Northern Alliance and harnessed the might of U.S. air power - were able to win a war in two months that the U.S. then spent another two decades losing. Harnden solves the mystery of how CIA paramilitary Mike Spann - the first casualty in combat of the War on Terror - died and details Spann's fateful encounter with another American, Al-Qaeda's John Walker Lindh, on the battlefield. 

Mr. Harnden’s book will be available for purchase after the talk. 

Toby Harnden is a winner of the Orwell Prize for Books. A former foreign correspondent for the Sunday Times of London and the Daily Telegraph who reported from thirty-three countries, he specializes in terrorism and war.

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