Situated on a stretch of rural road in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, at first sight the Dar Ul-Uloom Deoband, or the Deoband Seminary of Sciences, strikes a non-descript and downbeat tone. The sign outside the seminary appears decrepit and decaying, thus providing little clue to the historical and contemporary importance of the buildings that lie inside.
Mahan Abedin is a research fellow at the New Delhi-based Institute for Defence Studies and Analysis. Previously he has worked with numerous think tanks, including the Washington-based Jamestown Foundation and the London-based Centre for the Study of Terrorism. He has also been active in journalism, having worked for the Beirut-based Daily Star and most recently the Irbil-based AK News Agency where he was chief editor of the Persian and English sections. Born in Iran, but raised and educated in the United Kingdom, Abedin is a frequent traveller to the Islamic Republic where he is a consultant to independent media.