Afghanistan’s first media mogul

Ken Auletta in The New Yorker:

ScreenHunter_01 Jul. 03 00.00 Every day in Kabul, politicians and journalists in search of information come to a barricaded dead-end street in the Wazir Akbar Khan district to see Saad Mohseni, the chairman of Moby Group, Afghanistan’s preëminent media company. At the last house on the right, burly men carrying AK-47s lead them up creaky stairs to a small second-floor office. Mohseni, a gregarious man with a politician’s habits, often stands up to greet visitors with a hug, then returns to his desk, where a BlackBerry, two cell phones, and a MacBook Air laptop are constantly lit up; fifteen small flat-screen TVs, set to mute, are mounted on the office walls.

Mohseni speaks so rapidly that the words sometimes run together, and he periodically interrupts himself to call out to his assistant—“Sekander!”—to make a phone call or produce a piece of paper. But he listens as intently as a psychiatrist, gathering information from an intricate network of sources: government and anti-government Afghans, American officials, foreign correspondents, diplomats, intelligence operatives, reporters, business and tribal and even Taliban leaders.

One morning this spring, Jon Boone, the Afghan correspondent for the London Guardian, stopped by. Boone, a lanky man with blond hair and stubble, sat on a folding chair and asked Mohseni if he thought that President Hamid Karzai was genuinely interested in reconciliation with the Taliban. Mohseni quickly said he thought Karzai was.

Boone peppered Mohseni with questions. At one point, when Mohseni did not know an answer he called out to Sekander to get the speaker of parliament on the line. The speaker could not be found, so Mohseni grabbed his cell phone and punched the number of the Vice-President.

More here.