PANJWAI, Afghanistan - Not all insurgents choose to leave the Taliban and reconcile with their Afghan brothers, but one man, Zai Nuddin, decided fighting alongside his brothers is more important than fighting against them Oct. 9.
For three years, Nuddin lived his life under the Taliban regime. He unquestioningly followed the orders of those appointed over him, many of which were not Afghans.
“They were telling us to fight inside of Afghanistan,” said Nuddin. “They would give us money. They were coming from other countries, using propaganda to talk bad about the people of Afghanistan to the people who were uneducated.”
Over time, Nuddin and others from around his village learned more and more about the Afghan government and decided to leave the insurgency and join the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.
“When we were aware of this government and that the government wanted to help us out and improve Afghanistan, we decided to quit the Taliban and join with the government,” Nuddin added.
About eight months ago, Nuddin left the insurgency and was selected as the Sperwan Village Afghan Local Police commander.
The ALP is a program implemented by GIRoA to provide local villagers the ability to protect and secure their villages from insurgency in areas where Afghan National Security Forces are limited.
For Nuddin, joining the ALP came with a big price: his personal safety.
“When I joined the ALP, I became a big target for the Taliban,” added Nuddin. “They know a lot about me, and I know a lot about them. I have killed about six or seven Taliban commanders and a lot of their men.”
The Sperwan ALP checkpoint engages in daily battles with the Taliban. The insurgents hide in the fields and trees where they try to kill members of the ALP.
“I have lost three of my men since I came to the government,” said Nuddin. “My nephews and I have been shot and 12 of my men have been injured.”
Two of Nuddin’s nephews, Alow Din and Mohammad Azim, were also prior Taliban members who have joined the Afghan forces.
“We are also a huge target for the Taliban since we came back to the government last year,” said Din, a Sperwan ALP sub-commander. “They (the Taliban) are getting jealous. ‘Oh, those are our men and now they joined the government and are fighting against us!’”
Loss of men and injury to himself and his nephews are not the only sacrifices Nuddin has made. Not long ago, Nuddin lost his son to an improvised explosive device attack when explosives were strapped to a group of three-wheelers in Kandahar city and detonated.
“One day we were at the provincial headquarters and my cousin decided he wanted to go home (from Kandahar city, back to his village),” said Din, Nuddin’s nephew. “As we were driving away, we passed the three-wheelers and his son started running towards our truck. When he passed the three-wheelers, they blew up.”
Nuddin moved his family to Kandahar city when the Taliban entered their village and threatened to kill everyone if they did not leave. Nuddin, his nephews and other men from his village have returned, though, trained and determined to secure the area so their families can return.
“I am really proud of my nephews and sons (the other ALP patrolmen) who are here trying to bring security to the village,” said Nuddin. “We have to defeat the Taliban because they are not letting the villagers come home and tend their gardens or livestock. They are not letting people go to school or build a clinic.”
Not all of the Taliban training and knowledge Nuddin and his nephews gained from the insurgency has gone to waste. They are using it to help counter the attacks against their village.
“My Taliban training helps me know where they are burying IEDs, how they plan to use them, where they will conduct an ambush and what they are planning,” said Nuddin.
His focus is not only on defeating the Taliban, but also taking care of the people of his village and the men who have devoted themselves to the ALP.
“When the insurgents are gone we can build a clinic, we can build a school, and we can build anything we want,” added Nuddin.
The hearts of Nuddin and his nephews are not completely hardened by the unfortunate events that have impacted their lives. They are still willing to accept any insurgents ready to come back to the village, if they hand over their weapons to the government, and pledge allegiance to GIRoA.
“Why am I standing here with my brothers?” asked Azim. “They need to go to school, but instead they are standing here with me with a gun in their hand. Please, give your weapon to the government and stay here in the village. We will supply you with whatever you need, but please don’t fight.”
As an elder, Nuddin is focused on rebuilding his village and getting his brothers back from the Taliban and the insurgency.
“Let’s stop this war,” said Nuddin. “Don’t listen to the people who go against our government. I am your elder and a villager. I am with you and I am here to help you. Please don’t take the money they are giving you to destroy your own country. Let’s improve Afghanistan.”
This work, Taliban commander crosses over to the Afghan Local Police, by SFC Nicole Howell, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.