Inside the Taliban with Abdul Salam Zaeef, Part Two


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Abdul Salam Zaeef is a man of his time. Born in southern Afghanistan in the late 1960s, he was of fighting age when the Soviets invaded his country in the 1980s. At times a resistance fighter, always a religious student, Zaeef eventually rose to the senior ranks of the mujahedeen and, later, the Taliban. For that, he spent three years in the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay. Released in 2005 without ever being charged, today Zaeef lives in Kabul. His new memoir My Life with the Taliban, translated by Alex Strick and Felix Kuehn and excerpted below, is a rare glimpse inside a group that everyone worries about, but few seem to understand.

Abdul Salam Zaeef. Life photo.


Facing increasingly sophisticated U.S.-made weaponry in mujahedeen hands and growing international alarm, the Soviet Union pulled out of Afghanistan in 1988. “We celebrated without a worry in the world,” Zaeef recalls:

Mullah Marjan sang in joy using the top of an old stove as a drum while the rest of us danced the Atan. We still hoped that the mujahedeen would share the power among themselves and establish an Islamic government, so we could honor our dead, feed our orphans and support our widows. But the new government held on to power.

President Najibullah broadcast on the radio, talking about peace, security and brotherhood. He quoted verses from the holy Koran and the Prophet Mohamed’s (Peace Be Upon Him) hadiths. His solution for reconciliation was forgiveness, not true reconciliation. We were just to forget what had happened …

Inside the Taliban with Abdul Salam Zaeef, Part One


4 Responses to “Inside the Taliban with Abdul Salam Zaeef, Part Two”

  1. pain-in-the-axe says:

    “…translated by Alex Strick and Felix Kuehn”

    That’s the link for the editor’s site. (Alex Strick van Linschoten)
    I’ve been following this blog for a while
    … unembedded stuff from Kandahar.

  2. [...] Taliban arose to resist Afghanistan’s post-Soviet government. Zaeef was an early member. He recalls that ramshackle beginning: The first few days of the [...]

  3. BRIAN says:

    I agree with or accept much of what you say in your book “My Life with the Taliban”, I also disagree with or don’t accept much of what you say. I could ask many, many questions however I have one overriding question which has been on my mind for a number of years.

    When I bowse the library of my local small city, of the 500-600 books in the religions of the world section I quickly count 40 to 50 different religions. With due respect, there is one indisputable fact that, other than in our imaginations, there is no proof that there is a “God” and all of the hundreds of “prophets” of the various religions were merely men (and a few women). I accept that most of these prophets were intelligent and/or brave and/or humanitarian etc., but they ALL were self proclaimed prophets or were proclaimed prophets by other men and women. And virtually all religions have proclmations of their respective versions of “heaven” and “hell”. My question to you is “how is it that intelligent individuals the world over can convince themselves, or rather BE CONVINCED that their particular “God” (along with the respective “Prophets” and dogma) consitutes the only valid religion in the universe?”
    Be Well

  4. Saltwater says:

    @ BRIAN

    what gave you the idea that each religion has a different God? Its not like that at all. Every religion worships the same Entity…the same God, but everyone uses a different name for God in their own language.

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