Embedded with the Taliban in Kunar

Last week, Channel 4 News aired video of Norwegian journalist Paul Refsdal’s embed with Taliban fighters in Kunar. The footage provides an interesting look at a Taliban unit’s operations, or lack thereof, in the eastern province. The Taliban unit, under the command of Haji Mohammad Dawran Safi, or Qari Dawat, spent much of its time conducting ineffective, long range ambushes from the same firing positions on US convoys that passed through the valley.

Refsdal is the journalist who was kidnapped in Kunar after his first visit. He was released just five days after his capture, and after he converted to Islam. Dawat, who admitted to being part of the Taliban and swearing allegiance to Mullah Omar, conducted an interview for The New Time International, a Norwegian newspaper and said the following:

“He told us that he already had studied Islam,” Qari Dawat said. “He felt good for our religion, and while he was in our custody, he realized maybe Islam’s kindness: He saw that we were good people, who fight for our religion and our country, for our freedom. He was impressed and converted.”

US and Afghan forces targeted Dawat in a raid in December 2009; Afghan forces claimed Dawat was killed, but the US never confirmed the report.

See The Long War Journal report, Taliban commander behind reporter’s kidnapping targeted in Kunar, for more information.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.

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