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Kabul Korrespondence

Fresh, factual, and funky view of Afghanistan and the surrounding Central Asian region

Weekender

Saturday, September 12, 2009

BBC News

In the villages of Afghanistan, many young men are working for the government during the week, but fighting for the Taliban at weekends. "We don't get paid," says Gul Mohammad. "It's voluntary - all for the sake of God. We even buy fuel for the operations ourselves. And our own ammunition and bullets."

Gul Mohammad (his name changed to protect his identity) is not what you might think of as a typical Taliban fighter. He is educated, in his 20s, married with children and, during the week, he works in a government office.

"I'm a civil servant - that's how I support my family, with my salary and by growing wheat, here in the village. At the same time, I work for the Islamic Emirate (the name the Taliban use for their regime in Afghanistan). I've been fighting for the Taliban for about two years."

Gul Mohammad is one of an unknown number of Afghans who work in a government office during the week and commute home to their village at weekends to see their children and fight for the Taliban.

"They provide manpower or contribute in other ways like giving top-up cards for mobile phones or financial assistance. They need to be able to keep commuting from village to work."

According to Gul, it is not just individuals who split their loyalties in order to survive what feels like a civil war.

"It's a secret in the village - there are people who are seniors in the Taliban and their brothers are seniors in the Afghan administration - they are aware of each others' activities and their involvement, and this is accepted as a matter of fact."

Motives for joining the insurgency vary, he says, from religious fervour to national honour to an eye for making money from kidnapping, or looting from the enemy. "Imagine - during the day, the police are police and at night, they are robbers. They plunder people's houses, they loot the bazaar and kill innocent people.

"People became very angry. They stood against him and his group. And the Taliban grabbed this opportunity. They attacked the district headquarters and, until now, it's under Taliban control."

The governor of Wardak, Abdul Haleem Fedaee, who was appointed a year ago, says he cannot reject or confirm the existence of Taliban elements in the state. "But we have intelligence agencies who monitor the civil service and we have other people - elders and clerics - who would also identify anyone who was fighting with the Taliban," he said.

Gul Mohammad says he had not seen a waning of popular support for the weekend jihadi.

He says he will keep fighting during his spare time until the foreigners leave.

"We will win - not because of planes and soldiers, but by the will of God."
posted by Travis, 9:52 pm

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