The Weekly's December 2008 cover story on Hasan Nouri mentioned that the Afghanistan-born civil engineer turned up in the source notes of the book Charlie Wilson's War. George Crile's 2003 page-turner was, of course, turned into a 2007 Hollywood movie with the same title starring Tom Hanks. Today, the subject of the book and character Hanks played passed away.
Charlie Wilson was pronounced dead on arrival at the eastern Texas hospital he was taken to after he started having difficulty breathing while attending a meeting. The preliminary cause of death was cardiopulmonary arrest. He was 76.
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Wilson represented the 2nd district in east Texas in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1973 to 1996. Known in Washington as "Good Time Charlie," Wilson had a reputation as a hard-drinking womanizer.
In the early 1980s, before Afghanistan was even on the national radar, Democrat Wilson helped funnel U.S. taxpayer dollars to humanitarian groups operating there, including those that sent American nurses, doctors and health workers into the warzone to train Afghan medics. As the book and movie show, Wilson and a CIA operative hatched a project to send more goods than the relief groups needed, allowing Afghans to sell the unused items and divert proceeds to mujahideen military operations against the Soviet Union.
Nouri's connection? In 1984, he and Dr. Robert Simon, then an emergency-room physician at UCLA Medical Center, founded the nonprofit International Medical Corps (IMC) to provide health services in war-wracked countries, including Afghanistan, where more than 50 M*A*S*H-style medical clinics were erected to patch up mujahideen freedom fighters who'd waged war against the Soviet forces since their 1979 invasion.
Crile wrote in the notes to Charlie Wilson's War that Nouri and Simon provided "valuable insight" into the Cross Border Humanitarian Aid project.