Eqbal Ahmad, the Anti-War Activist Ahead of His Time

The Pakistani academic went on trial for plotting to kidnap Kissinger. He ended up advising revolutionaries and presidents, and prophesying the future.

GettyImages-515107036 eqbal ahmad kissinger
Five of the seven persons indicted on charges of allegedly plotting to kidnap Henry Kissinger and blowing up the underground heating system of federal buildings in Washington (L-R): Mary Scoblick, a former nun and wife of Anthony Scoblick, a former priest: Mrs. Sarah Glick: Eqbal Ahmad, Chicago: Sister Elizabeth McAlister, Tarrytown, N.Y.; Reverend Joseph Wenderoth, Baltimore, MD (Bettmann, Getty)

Ayesha Le Breton


January 22, 2024


12 min

On January 12, 1971, the FBI stormed the Adlai Stevenson Institute in Chicago and arrested Eqbal Ahmad. The FBI charged the Pakistani American in his late 30s with three counts: conspiracy to kidnap National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger, conspiracy to blow up heating ducts in tunnels below government buildings, and conspiracy to raid offices that oversaw military conscription. About a year later, the notorious Harrisburg Seven Trial ensued, taking over news channels and making headlines.

Anti-war activist Noam Chomsky called Ahmad a “a student of revolution and imperialism and a very good one.” Historian Howard Zinn, former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, and academic Edward Said were all Ahmad fans. The foremost political movers and shakers revered the Pakistani emigré and activist, whose political treatises and theories became prophetic. So how did Ahmad get involved in one of the most conspiracy-laden American trials of the 20th century — and why do so few know about him today?

Join today to read the full story.


Already a subscriber? Log in