Afghanistan — Former Taliban Commander Discusses Reintegration

FARAH, Afghanistan (May 12, 2012) — A for­mer Tal­iban com­man­der met with mem­bers of Provin­cial Recon­struc­tion Team Farah to share his rea­sons for join­ing the Afghanistan Peace and Rein­te­gra­tion Pro­gram here Sat­ur­day.

Mul­lah Abdul Satar, a for­mer Tal­iban com­man­der, talks with mem­bers of Provin­cial Recon­struc­tion Team Farah.
Source: NATO
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Mul­lah Abdul Satar met with U.S. Army Lt. Col. Antho­ny Ulrich, com­man­der of the PRT Civ­il Affairs group, to talk about why he made the deci­sion to leave the Tal­iban. As the unit rein­te­gra­tion rep­re­sen­ta­tive, Ulrich part­ners with the Provin­cial Peace Coun­cil and the Provin­cial Joint Sec­re­tari­at Team to help pro­vide train­ing and work oppor­tu­ni­ties to par­tic­i­pants of the rein­te­gra­tion pro­gram through­out Farah province. 

Satar recent­ly joined the rein­te­gra­tion pro­gram, accord­ing to Ulrich. Less than one month ago his respon­si­bil­i­ties as a Tal­iban com­man­der includ­ed receiv­ing and dis­trib­ut­ing weapons, col­lect­ing mon­ey from peo­ple, and car­ing for injured Tal­iban fight­ers. He com­mit­ted to the rein­te­gra­tion pro­gram after con­sid­er­ing it for three months. 

“My rea­son for being in this pro­gram is when­ev­er the Tal­iban were arrest­ing peo­ple and behead­ing them for no good rea­son, I was total­ly against it and it was­n’t fair to me,” said Satar. “The sec­ond rea­son is for destroy­ing the clin­ics and schools, which I am total­ly against. Car­ing for my fam­i­ly and hav­ing food is the main thing. Pro­gram offi­cials kept talk­ing to me and telling me good things.” 

“He brought eleven oth­ers into the rein­te­gra­tion process with him,” said Ulrich. “It’s impor­tant for the gov­ern­ment to pro­vide tran­si­tion assis­tance so they don’t go back to fight­ing.” U.S. Navy Cmdr. Thomas Shep­pard, com­mand­ing offi­cer of PRT Farah, sup­ports the pro­gram. “The rein­te­gra­tion pro­gram is a key part of the Afghanistan peace process. It gives insur­gents an oppor­tu­ni­ty to hon­ourably renounce vio­lence and rein­te­grate back into the Afghan soci­ety,” said Sheppard. 

The PRT’s mis­sion is to sup­port eco­nom­ic devel­op­ment and effec­tive gov­er­nance at the dis­trict, munic­i­pal and provin­cial lev­el in Farah Province in order to enhance the legit­i­mate exer­cise of the Gov­ern­ment of the Islam­ic Repub­lic of Afghanistan’s author­i­ty and its abil­i­ty to pro­vide basic ser­vices to the peo­ple of Farah. 

“The Tal­iban are get­ting weak, but their pro­pa­gan­da is still strong,” said Satar. “They are ten, and say they are one hundred. 

“We were per­mit­ted to do any­thing to achieve our mis­sion, even using women and chil­dren as shields. I asked the oth­er Tal­iban ‘What are we doing?’, because what­ev­er they are doing it’s not for the Afghan peo­ple. They went to a civil­ian home, they shoot peo­ple, they beat the chil­dren or the woman, and they strip every­thing look­ing around for weapons for the Tal­ban. They beat the chil­dren if they need any infor­ma­tion from them. To me, this is not fair. It’s not for the Afghan peo­ple. Going back to the Tal­iban is out of the ques­tion, if I go back, they will kill me. At least I am here now in the gov­ern­ment. I’m not doing any­thing bad. I’m not doing any harm and I feel good, because if I am not mak­ing any dam­age to the peo­ple, that’s good for me. 

“I want to be very help­ful to the gov­ern­ment. I want to cure the dam­ages I have done to the peo­ple. I want to edu­cate my chil­dren because I have been fight­ing for the past 30 years and look at me, I’ve got noth­ing. I want my chil­dren to be edu­cat­ed to have a bet­ter life.” 

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