Sunday, October 29, 2006

Welcome to the Tora Bora Hilton

Gul Agha Sherzai, the black-bearded warlord turned governor of the Afghanistan province of Nangahar, plans to build a multi-million dollar hotel development overlooking Tora Bora, Osama Bin Laden's infamous bastion. Sherzai thinks he can leverage the upcoming publicity from Oliver Stone's film in progress about the hunt for Osama into tourist dollars. Said Sherzai, “The name Afghanistan at the moment is associated with terrorism. We want to remove that label and replace it with tourism.”

Sherzai's tourist resort would feature restaurants overlooking the hand-dug caves and mud brick houses built by Al Qaeda and craters dug by American bombs. Sherzai visualizes tourists flocking to his terrorist-themed resort: “I don’t just want one Tora Bora hotel. I want three or four. Long before anyone had heard of Osama, Tora Bora was known as a picnic spot and now it can be both.”

Afghanistan used to be a regular stop for hippie tourists forty years ago. Inexplicably, tourism has not rebounded since the rout of the Taliban in 2001. Perhaps part of this lull in tourism may be attributed to the failure of proposed British package tours to Afghanistan in 2004 when the Minister of Tourism was assassinated in one of the guesthouses in Herat where the tourists would have stayed. The Afghan locals also have an unfortunate habit of murdering outsiders. Two German journalists enjoying the scenic spot of Bamian were shot dead this month.

However, that aside, tourists should be perfectly safe when driven by a squad of armed bodyguards as fast as possible over the dirt road from Jalalabad, three hours away. The road runs out a couple miles short of Tora Bora, but Sherzai plans to pave the road all the way to his new tourist Mecca.

Sure it may sound crazy now, but it's just crazy enough to work. If you close your eyes and squint, one can imagine Tora Bora Land, something like a jihadi Disneyland with kids running around in little Mickey Martyr turbans, jumping on the Suicide Bomber Ride To Paradise or splashing in The Islamic Martyrs Fountain of Blood, going to see the animatronic Osama Bin Laden declare war on America or smiting infidel mannequin necks in Zarqawi's Beheading Gallery, where for $29.95 you can take home a snuff video on DVD to show your friends.

Ya gotta remember, Las Vegas was once just a crazy desert dream of a mobster. Is Tora Bora Land any crazier than that? If Sherzai builds it, they will come.


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