"As long as the war goes on we will have them available at no charge to the general public," says Wayne Dunne, who manages the store with his wife, Sue. Dunne says no purchase is necessary for the notebook-sized maps, which are laminated so the public can use them as a companion to televised news reports.
Dunne, a naval veteran of the Vietnam War, says offering the free maps is his way of helping the public become better informed about the region. "The Middle East is hard for the public to understand," he says. "Geography is not our forte in the schools. It has never been a well-taught."
He adds that he got the idea following the high demand for maps after the Sept. 11. attacks. American officials say Afghanistan offers safe haven to Osama bin Laden, the prime suspect in the attacks on New York City and Washington. D.C. "We were getting a lot of requests for American flags, which we don't carry, and for Middle East maps, which we do carry," he says.
There is a limit of one free map per customer, and they must be picked up at the store, which is located at 2727 Edenborn Ave.