On Aug. 7, 2012, the Taliban’s media council released a 34-minute video on their Voice of Jihad website, titled “Ghazi of Ghaziabad,” a disjointed montage of interviews and footage showing Taliban commanders in eastern Kunar province separately ‘welcoming’ two Afghan National Army (ANA) soldiers suspected of killing US and Afghan soldiers in green-on-blue attacks earlier this year. The term “ghazi” refers to an individual who has had success in his or her struggle against non-believers or ‘infidels.’
The video features interviews with two rogue ANA soldiers — “Ghazi” Mahmood from Gereshk district in Helmand province, and “Ghazi” Khan Mohammad, a Dari-speaking Afghan purportedly from northern Takhar province. The video concludes with a previously recorded interview with another rogue ANA soldier, “Ghazi” Mohammad Rozi, who shot and injured three Australian soldiers and two Afghan soldiers on Nov. 8, 2011 at a small patrol base known as Nasir in central Uruzgan province. Mohammad Rozi, like Khan Mohammad, allegedly comes from Takhar.
The Aug. 7 video shows Mahmood being greeted by local elders and suspected Taliban fighters who shower him with praise for killing his Coalition mentors. The Taliban shadow district governor for the Ghaziabad district, Mawlawi Abdul Jalal, whom he sits next to during the recorded interview, is also among those who greet Mahmood as he enters a remote village in Ghaziabad.
According to Taliban math, Mahmood gunned down “a dozen American troops” at the camp on May 11, but NATO confirmed Mahmood had killed one US soldier and wounded two others before he fled into the mountains of Ghaziabad, as reported in the New York Times. Mahmood served as a gate guard at a small ANA outpost in Ghaziabad near an area known as “Bagran,” which is said to be located between Ghaziabad and Asmar districts, not far from Kunar’s shared boundary with Nuristan.
The video also chronicles a second rogue ANA soldier named Khan Mohammad, purportedly from Takhar province, who took credit for killing an ANA commander and two other ANA soldiers at the “Barfani check post” in the “Sarkano” (Sarkanay) district of Kunar province. The video shows Khan Mohammad meeting with several Taliban commanders, including one whose face remains obscured by Taliban video editors, while another unidentified commander can be seen in several instances carrying a US M-4 carbine.
Khan Mohammad claims he turned his weapon against his commander and other Afghan soldiers because they were “drinking alcohol” and “not praying.” As in the footage with Mahmood, local elders and suspected Taliban fighters can be seen praising and stringing necklaces laced with flowers over the neck of the ‘hero.’
In neither Mahmood’s nor Khan Mohamad’s case is there a sense that they were Taliban ‘sleeper agents’ or infiltrators who penetrated the Afghan National Security Forces to carry out such attacks. Rather it appears that both men reacted to their environment and situations on a personal level, and were ‘welcomed’ by the Taliban following their actions.