Thursday, April 30, 2009

The turncoat

Al Jazeera chats, rather briefly it seems, with a very unusual insurgent:

Switching sides in Afghanistan
By Qais Azimy

HELMAND, Apr 27 - A man with a long, black beard gets out of a Toyota, with four other Taliban fighters in tow...

It is immediately obvious that he is not Afghan.

The other Taliban fighters say he is an Arab who came to Afghanistan with the "infidel fighters". But he never fought with them - he fled the Sangen district base he had been assigned to and surrendered to the Taliban in his full military gear.

That was two years ago...

He introduces himself as Mustafa. I ask him for his second name.

"Just call me Mustafa," he said.

"Everyone in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) knows me. They all know my story," he says...

Mustafa says he had come to Afghanistan as a member of the UAE contingent to the Nato-led International Security Assistance Force (Isaf).

The UAE, which previously was one of three countries which had formally recognised the Taliban after their capture of Kabul in 1996, has approximately 25 troops serving with Isaf in Afghanistan, according to figures released in April 2009...

Mustafa says he had qualms that his service within Isaf was wrong, so instead of fighting the Taliban, he fled the base and joined the Taliban who welcomed him with open arms.

Now he is considered one the most revered and respected Taliban fighters in Helmand province... (link)

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