Archive for November 2010
Abdul Haqim was a university student of 19 when he was shot in the shoulder by American soldiers who sprayed bullets outside his village and killed his cousin.
Vowing to avenge the death, he joined the Taliban, rose to the rank of commander and acquired a reputation for ferocity with a series of bloody attacks on Nato and Afghan army patrols.
Now, at the age of 25, Haqim is weary of war. Two of his senior commanders have been killed in recent months and he says he is demoralised by civilian casualties. He has resolved to resume his engineering studies and marry the woman he loves.
“I want to go back to university,” he said last week in an interview arranged through an intermediary. “I don’t want to see any more civilians killed.”
Nato believes Haqim is one of a growing band of fighters who are preparing to switch sides. Yet his story highlights not only the vital nature of efforts to lure Taliban commanders away from the insurgency with their weapons and their men, but also the difficulties and dangers of securing such defections.
Haqim’s journey into the arms of the Taliban began on a cold winter’s morning outside his village in the Chak district of Wardak province, 50 miles southwest of Kabul.
Talking in a huddle of village men, he watched as a convoy of American soldiers drove along the nearby road. Suddenly, the armoured vehicle at the front of the convoy struck a mine. The soldiers responded by opening fire, apparently thinking Haqim and his companions had detonated it.
Haqim was knocked face-first into the dirt when a bullet tore into his left shoulder as he ran for cover. Bleeding heavily, he was pulled to safety by three men who stuffed cotton wool in his wounds. Read the rest of this entry »