Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed (born 1978) is a British investigative journalist, author and academic. He is editor of the crowdfunded investigative journalism platform INSURGE intelligence. He is a former environment blogger for The Guardian from March 2013 to July 2014. From 2014-2017, Ahmed was a weekly columnist for Middle East Eye, the London-based news portal founded by ex-Guardian writer David Hearst. He is 'System Shift' columnist at VICE covering issues around global systems crises and solutions.
Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed
|Born||1978 (age 40–41)|
|Education||University of Sussex|
As a film-maker he co-produced and wrote The Crisis of Civilization, and associate produced Grasp the Nettle, both directed by Dean Puckett. Ahmed's academic work has focused on the systemic causes of mass violence. His work applies systems theory to explore the intersection of multiple global crises, including climate, energy, financial, political, military, and others.
Education and career
Ahmed received an M.A. in contemporary war & peace studies and a DPhil (April 2009) in international relations from the School of Global Studies at Sussex University, where he taught for a period in the Department of International Relations. His PhD thesis was a comparative analysis of Spanish and British colonisation of the Americas to uncover the processes that precipitated genocidal mass violence.
He was a tutor at the Department of International Relations, University of Sussex, and has lectured at Brunel University’s Politics & History Unit at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels, for courses in international relations theory, contemporary history, empire and globalization. From 2015 to 2018, he was Visiting Research Fellow at the Global Sustainability Institute at Anglia Ruskin University's Faculty of Science & Technology.
Ahmed was previously founding Executive Director of the Institute for Policy Research & Development (IPRD) until 2013 when it ceased formal operation. The IPRD was a voluntary global network of scholars, scientists and researchers focused on 'Transdisciplinary Security Studies'.
He is also founding convenor and principal author at Perennial, an IPRD project focusing on progressive Islamic theology. Perennial was co-founded by twenty-five Western Muslims and open up Islamic scholarly traditions to interdisciplinary analysis. The project was launched in 2016 on International Women's Day "to correct entrenched misreadings of Islam among Muslim and non-Muslim communities."
The War on Freedom and The War on Truth
Ahmed's first book, The War on Freedom: How and Why America was Attacked, September 11, 2001, published in 2002, was praised by the American essayist Gore Vidal "The Enemy Within", an essay published by The Observer in which Vidal described Ahmed's book as "the best and most balanced report" on 9/11. The book was among 99 books selected and used by the 9/11 Commission for its inquiry into the terrorist attacks.
Ahmed's later book, The War on Truth: 9/11, Disinformation and the Anatomy of Terrorism (2005), follows up from his first book, with a critical evaluation of the findings of the 9/11 Commission. In The War on Truth, he argues that the 9/11 attacks on New York City and Washington were facilitated due to US government relations with key state-sponsors of al-Qaeda in the Middle East and North Africa such as Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Azerbaijan and many others. The book was praised by commentator Yasmin Alibhai-Brown in The Independent: "In his disturbing and clearly evidenced book, The War on Truth, Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed traces the unholy games played with Islamicist terrorists by the US, and through acquiescence by the UK, flirting with them when it suited and then turning against them. Al-Qa'ida has been used as an instrument of western statecraft and for now is the enemy. Well, not quite. Pakistan's ISI is quite chummy with the Bin Laden groupies and, well, we have to keep Pakistan on side as they know so many of our secrets. So it goes on."
In response to conspiracy theories of 9/11, Ahmed wrote on his blog in 2014: "I'm on record in a number of places pointing out that simple physical anomalies cannot be used to justify conclusions of a government conspiracy. ... So I kind of end up pissing off basically everyone, 'troofers', 'anti-troofers', and a lot in between."
A User's Guide to the Crisis of Civilization
Ahmed's book, A User's Guide to the Crisis of Civilization: And How to Save It, received a notice in The Guardian which commented: "Ahmed could be charged with a certain ebullience in his delineating of potential catastrophe, which will necessitate 'the dawn of a post-carbon civilisation'. But his arguments are in the main forceful and well-sourced, with particularly good sections on agribusiness, US policies of 'energy security', and what he terms the 'securitisation' of ordinary life by western governments."
In The Oil Drum, Jeff Vail, a former US Department of Interior analyst specialising in energy infrastructure, "highly recommends" the book, concluding: "In the end, if the crisis of our modern civilization can be solved—or at least if the transition to whatever replaces it can be softened—then it will be through a syncretic understanding of the system of threats we face, such as that presented by Dr. Ahmed, that pave the way."
A review in Marx & Philosophy of Books criticises the book's approach to systems theory with regards to Ahmed's proposed solutions. Although the reviewer, Dr Robert Drury King, an assistant professor at Sierra Nevada College specialising in systems, acknowledges that "Ahmed draws convincingly and commandingly on a number of fields, including climate sciences, geology, monetary and financial economics, and systems theory, among many others. The impressive scope of the book owes to the fact that Ahmed is very deliberately a wide-ranging, interdisciplinary scholar" - he questions whether there is "a clear and feasible notion of systematicity" that is "applied methodologically to the resolution of the identified crises."
Following the publication of the book, Ahmed's chance meeting with filmmaker Dean Puckett led to the development of a feature documentary, The Crisis of Civilization. It was received positively by Hitcham Yezza, editor of Ceasefire magazine, for whom the "film is necessary viewing, not just for activists but for anyone who’s planning to hang around this planet for the foreseeable future."
Ahmed has twice been featured in the Evening Standard's list of the top 1,000 most influential Londoners. His investigative journalism has also twice won the Project Censored Award. He is a winner of the Routledge-GCP&S Essay Competition for his peer-reviewed journal paper critiquing conventional international relations approaches to global crises. In 2005, he testified in US Congress about his investigative work on the events leading up to 9/11, where he argued that Western states had undermined national security by using Islamist militant groups for geopolitical purposes in parts of Central Asia and the Middle East.
In 2018, Peter Oborne in the British Journalism Review described him as "one of the most courageous and interesting investigative reporters of our time" and "an expert on the environment and the war on terror ... His articles can make very uncomfortable reading for the media and political elite".
Nafeez Ahmed's disagreement with Christopher Hitchens over Gore Vidal
In Hitchens' 2010 essay in Vanity Fair about Gore Vidal's later writings, he also criticises Ahmed, upon whom Vidal drew for his 9/11 essay in The Observer. Hitchens wrote: "Mr. Ahmed on inspection proved to be a risible individual wedded to half-baked conspiracy-mongering."
Ahmed responded with a letter to the editor, published by Vanity Fair, asserting that Hitchens's article contained "major inaccuracies": "Hitchens's reduction of me to 'conspiracy-mongering' and as having a 'one-room sideshow' institute is contrasted by the fact that I'm an academic at the University of Sussex; my book, The War on Freedom, was used by the 9/11 commission; I've testified before the U.S. Congress; I've given evidence to a U.K. parliamentary inquiry; and my institute is advised by a board of 20 leading scholars.″
Ahmed followed up with a detailed critique of Hitchens' attack on both himself and Gore Vidal in a feature article published by The Independent on Sunday. He argued that:
the pre-9/11 intelligence failure was not simply because of a lack of reliable intelligence, or because intelligence bureaucracy was hopelessly incompetent (which it was and is), but ultimately because the Bush administration made political decisions that obstructed critical intelligence investigations and ongoing information-sharing that could have prevented 9/11. Those decisions were made to protect vested interests linked to US support of Islamist extremist networks like the Taliban and their state-sponsors, such as the Gulf kingdoms, rooted in Western oil dependency and intersecting financial investments. The inadequacy of the 9/11 Commission investigation, in this regard, is an open secret to many intelligence experts.
On the same day, The Independent on Sunday ran a news story on the whole episode, reporting that Ahmed "had not suggested there was a conspiracy [on 9/11], rather a 'dereliction of duty'", and that he had "used the word 'complicity' in a legal sense."
Jonathan Kay allegations
In 2014, Discover published a blog article by Keith Kloor concerning Ahmed's Guardian article about a "NASA-sponsored" and funded study of the collapse of industrial civilisation. Kloor objected to the lack of independent responses to the paper, yet to be published at the time, from other scholars in the field. A second post by Kloor asserted that Ahmed had made an "uncritical appraisal" of the study. The story was reported internationally by other media outlets which incorrectly referred to the study reported by Ahmed as a "NASA study", although Ahmed's original Guardian report had not described it as such. In a statement, NASA commented that the collapse study "is an independent study by the university researchers utilizing research tools developed for a separate NASA activity. As is the case with all independent research, the views and conclusions in the paper are those of the authors alone."
In a follow-up clarification, Ahmed noted that the NASA statement had simply confirmed his original report, that NASA had funded an independent study specifically by financing the creation of the model it was based on.
At the time, Kloor also labelled Ahmed as a "doomer". A December 2013 blog post by Kloor asserts: "Once someone starts down this civilization-is-collapsing road, like Guardian blogger Nafeez Ahmed, it's hard to stop. If you want a tour guide to the apocalypse, Ahmed is your guy."
Ahmed rejected this characterisation of his work in his Guardian blog: "Rather what we are seeing ... are escalating, interconnected symptoms of the unsustainability of the global system in its current form. While the available evidence suggests that business-as-usual is likely to guarantee worst-case scenarios, simultaneously humanity faces an unprecedented opportunity to create a civilisational form that is in harmony with our environment, and ourselves."
- The War on Freedom: How and Why America was Attacked, 11 September 2001: ISBN 0-930852-40-0, 400 pages, Progressive Press, 2002.
- Behind the War on Terror : Western Secret Strategy and the Struggle for Iraq: ISBN 0-86571-506-8, 352 pages Clairview Books, 2003.
- The War on Truth: 9/11, Disinformation, and the Anatomy of Terrorism: ISBN 1-56656-596-0, 459 pages, Olive Branch Press, 2005.
- The London Bombings: An Independent Inquiry: ISBN 0-7156-3583-2, 256 pages, Duckworth, 2006.
- A User's Guide to the Crisis of Civilization: And How to Save It: ISBN 978-0-7453-3053-2, Pluto Press, 2010.
- Zero Point, ISBN 978-1620075395, 348 pages, Curiosity Quills Press, 2014
- Failing States, Collapsing Systems: BioPhysical Triggers of Political Violence: ISBN 978-3319478142, 110 pages, Springer Publishing, 2016.
- "The International Relations of Crisis and the Crisis of International Relations: From the Securitisation of Scarcity to the Militarisation of Society", Global Change, Peace & Security (Vol. 23, No. 3, October 2011)
- "Colonial Dynamics of Genocide: Imperialism, Identity and Mass Violence", Journal of Conflict Transformation & Security (Vol. 1, No. 1, April 2011) pp. 8–36
- "Overcoming Paralysis on Climate Change", Survival: Global Politics & Strategy (Vol. 53, No. 1, February–March 2011) pp. 203–206
- "Water, oil and demographics: The Arab world‟s triple crisis", Europe’s World: The Only Europe-Wide Policy Journal (Vol. 17, Spring 2011) pp. 121–123
- "Globalizing Insecurity: The Convergence of Interdependent Ecological, Energy and Economic Crises", Yale Journal of International Affairs (Vol. 5, No. 2, 2010) pp. 75–90
- "India and the Crisis of Civilization: Potential Impacts of Converging Ecological, Economic and Energy Catastrophes", India Economy Review (Vol. 7, March 2010) pp. 90–97
- "The Crisis of (Post) Modernity: The De-Sacralisation of the Social, the Death of Democracy, and the Reclamation of Islamic Tradition", Arches Quarterly (Vol. 3, No. 1, Summer 2009) pp. 25–32
- "Anglo-American World Order: 30 Years After the Islamic Revolution of Iran", Islamism Digest: Journal of the Centre for the Study of Terrorism (Vol. 4, No. 2, February 2009) pp. 14–19
- "Review – Purify and destroy: the political uses of massacre and genocide, by Jacques Semelin", International Affairs (Vol. 84, No. 4, July 2008) pp. 836–837
- "Terrorism and Western Statecraft", in Paul Zarembka (ed.), The Hidden History of 9-11-2002 (New York: Seven Stories Press, 2008) pp. 143–182
- "Structural Violence as a Form of Genocide: The Impact of the International Economic Order", Entelequia. Revista Interdisciplinar [Entelechy: Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies](University of Malaga, No. 5, Fall 2007) pp. 3–41
- "Terrorism and Western Statecraft: Al-Qaeda and Western Covert Operations After the Cold War", Research in Political Economy (Emerald: Vol. 23, 2006) pp. 149–188
- "UN Humanitarian Intervention in East Timor: A Critical Appraisal", Entelequia. Revista Interdisciplinar (University of Malaga, No. 2, Fall 2006) pp. 227–244
- "The Globalization of Insecurity: How the international economic order undermines human and national security on a world scale", Historia Actual [Contemporary History] (University of Cadiz, No. 5, 2004) pp. 113–126
- "The Discourse of Empire: United States National Security Strategies Since 1945", in Ronald Thoden (ed.), Terror und Staat: Der 11 September – Hintergrunde und Folgen: Goestregie, Terror, Geheimdienste, Medien, Kriege, Folter, Edition Zeitgeschichte (Berlin: Kai Homilius Verlag, 2004)
- "State Terrorism at the Dawn of the New American Century", Afterword to William Blum [former State Department official], ll libro nero degli Stati Uniti (Rome: Fazi Editore, 2003)
- "America and the Taliban: From Co-operation to War", Global Dialogue (Vol. 4, No. 2, Spring 2002) 7
- "Distortion, Deception and Terrorism: The Bombing of Afghanistan", International Socialist Review (No. 20, November/December 2001) pp. 36–44
- "Nafeez Ahmed". Nafeez Ahmed. Retrieved 25 May 2019.
- "Nafeez Ahmed is creating a journalism framework for inner and outer transformation". Patreon. Retrieved 25 May 2019.
- "Contributor page". The Guardian.
- "Nafeez Ahmed". Middle East Eye. Retrieved 8 July 2015.
- "System Shift column". Motherboard. VICE. Retrieved 8 July 2015.
- "DOCUMENTARY - Grasp the Nettle - Films". graspthenettlefilm. Retrieved 25 May 2019.
- "Nafeez Ahmed - Anglia Ruskin University - Academia.edu". anglia.academia.edu. Retrieved 25 May 2019.
- "Dr Nafeez Ahmed", University of Sussex staff page, as preserved by the Wayback Machine (Internal Archive) on 10 September 2015
- Ahmed, Nafeez. THE VIOLENCE OF EMPIRE: THE LOGIC AND DYNAMIC OF STRATEGIES OF VIOLENCE AND GENOCIDE IN HISTORICAL AND CONTEMPORARY IMPERIAL SYSTEMS. Retrieved 25 May 2019 – via www.academia.edu.
- "Failing States - ARU". aru.ac.uk. Retrieved 25 May 2019.
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- "About Perennial". perennial. Retrieved 25 May 2019.
- "Western Muslim scholars launch Islamic website to combat misogynist theology #IWD2016". www.pressat.co.uk. Retrieved 25 May 2019.
- Gore Vidal "The Enemy Within", The Observer, 27 October 2002, reprinted on Nafeez Ahmed's website
- "9/11 Commission Materials". National Archives. 9 November 2010. Retrieved 25 May 2019.
- "Yasmin Alibhai-Brown: A depressing saga of secrets, lies and medieval". The Independent. 23 February 2009. Retrieved 25 May 2019.
- "The "Nasa collapse study" controversy: some thoughts". The Cutting Edge. 26 March 2014. Retrieved 17 December 2015.
- Poole, Steven (1 January 2011). "Et cetera: non-fiction roundup". The Guardian.
- Jeff Vail, 'A review of Nafeez Ahmed's latest book', The Oil Drum, 13 November 2010, http://www.theoildrum.com/node/7110
- Robert Drury King, 'Review', Marx & Philosophy Review of Books, 2011, http://marxandphilosophy.org.uk/reviewofbooks/reviews/2011/377
- "The Crisis of Civilization". crisisofcivilization.com. Archived from the original on 27 March 2015. Retrieved 1 October 2015.
- "Review: The Crisis of Civilization", Ceasefire Magazine, 28 November 2011
- "The 1000: London's most influential people 2014 - Campaigners". 16 October 2014.
- "The Progress 1000: London's most influential people 2015 - Campaigners". 16 September 2015.
- Gelder, Sarah van. "Why the Corporate Media's Climate Change Censorship is Only Half the Story". Yes! Magazine.
- "10 stories the mainstream media doesn't want you to read". 26 November 2014.
- Ahmed, Nafeez Mosaddeq (2011). "The international relations of crisis and the crisis of international relations: From the securitisation of scarcity to the militarisation of society". Global Change, Peace & Security. 23 (3): 335–355. doi:10.1080/14781158.2011.601854.
- "Congressional Record".
- Oborne, Peter (2018). "We do not Report Fairly on Muslims". British Journalism Review. 29: 29–34. doi:10.1177/0956474818764596.
- Hitchens, Christopher (February 2010). "Vidal Loco". Vanity Fair.
- "Nafeez Ahmed responds to Cristopher Hitchens". Vanity Fair. February 2010.
- Ahmed, Nafeez (7 February 2010). "Hitchens has no clothes". The Independent on Sunday. London.
- Kate Youde "Christopher Hitchens attacks Gore Vidal for being a 'crackpot'", The Independent on Sunday, 7 February 2010
- University of Lethbridge pays student $7,714 to pursue 9/11 conspiracy theories. National Post
- Nafeez Ahmed "Nasa-funded study: industrial civilisation headed for 'irreversible collapse'?", theguardian, 14 March 2014
- Keith Kloor "Collide-A-Scape: About that Popular Guardian Story on the Collapse of Industrial Civilization", Discover, 14 March 2014
- Keith Kloor "Judging the Merits of a Media-Hyped ‘Collapse’ Study", Discover, 21 March 2014
- Nafeez Ahmed "Did Nasa fund 'civilisation collapse' study, or not?", The Guardian, 21 March 2014
- "The Well-Intentioned, Misguided Eco-Doomers". Collide-a-Scape. 20 December 2013. Retrieved 1 October 2015.
- Nafeez Ahmed "The global Transition tipping point has arrived - vive la révolution", The Guardian, 18 March 2014