The Ideological Islamist Quagmire of Afghanistan
"The Taliban tied their bodies to tanks and dragged them for about ten kilometers."
"His son is now saying 'I will take revenge'. That is not something that he can do on his own."
"He may kill one or two Taliban, and they may kill one or two on the government side But I see him meeting the same fate as his father."
Abdul Baqi Hashemi, member, Faryab provincial council, Kabul
"I wish I was killed and not my father -- the Taliban really feared him."
"I will take revenge for his death. I will not stop until I have brought their heads to the bazaar in Qaisar."
Said Muhammad, Afghanistan
"There will be an investigation to see whether his son [son of Abdul Basir] had any involvement on his killing."
Nizamuddin Qaisari, district police chief
Civil war often tears families apart, with sons, brothers, fathers fighting for the opposite ideology of the other. In Afghanistan this is no different. A long-time military commander -- loyal to the government of Afghanistan through his allegiance to a warlord, General Abdul Rashid Dostum, currently Afghanistan's vice-president -- vowed to kill his son who had given his allegiance to the Taliban. Similarly, the son pledged that he was committed to killing his father, an enemy of the Taliban.
Each attempted on occasion to make good their threats, but neither succeeded. In the end, extended tribal members brought father and son, Abdul Basir the government loyalist militia commander, and his son Said Muhammad, who had sworn allegiance to the Taliban, together. They decided they would put aside their differences, and Muhammad, the son, left the Taliban ostensibly to fight on the government side, alongside his father. That took place in mid-August.
Several weeks later, on September 7, father and son with ten other fighters fell into an insurgent trap close to where they lived in the Qaisar District in northern Afghanistan. The Taliban managed to kill Abdul Basir, along with five of his men, in a numerically unequal fight which went on for hours; the loyalist militia was quite simply outnumbered by the Taliban, determined to kill the ferocious military chief who had fought them for so long. His son, however, escaped the ambush.
The bodies of the six men were brought back to their home base. The dead commander had taken seven bullet wounds, one or more of which took his life. The following day several thousand men from the district attended the ceremonies for the final prayer before burying the commander. But because of threats from the Taliban warning that anyone who took part in the funeral would not be permitted to return back to the village of Zyaratgah, the original home of Abdul Basir and his family from which he had been ousted by the Taliban, they left before the burial and the prayer.
Said Muhammad described the battle he and his father were engaged in, a dozen men against, he said, fully 500 Taliban fighters. He spoke of grenades being thrown and a furious fight that took place, with hours of siege. He managed heroically to escape, crawling through the lines and throwing back grenades. And now, he meant to avenge his father's death. He has been contradicted by the area police chief who reduced the number of Taliban from 500 to 200 in the telling, still outnumbering the smaller number of loyalists led by Abdul Basir.
Suspicion lingers in the air, where the son's loyalties really remain, a suspicion that the district police chief seems determined to clarify.