Minicab driver by day, Taliban by night

If things weren’t bad enough already with minicab muggers, thieves and sexual predators and now Taliban fighters.

Minicab drivers are supposed to have a CRB checks, the same as Taxi drivers as to stop these type of people driving vulnerable people around.

What has gone wrong, when our licensing authority can’t  check and stop these people from gaining a license.

Special report: Ghaith Abdul-Ahad in Afghanistan meets a growing community of part-time expat jihadists

Taliban fighters in Dhani-Ghorri, Afghanistan. At least two of their fellow Taliban live in the UK outside the ‘fighting season’. Photograph: Ghaith Abdul-Ahad for the Guardian

The landscape of Dhani-Ghorri in northern Afghanistan is a quilt of fields outlined by earth berms, poplar trees and irrigation canals. Driving into the district to meet the area’s Taliban commander late last month, we passed men and boys who cooked rice in mud kilns, piled sacks of red onions on trucks or followed herds of goats and sheep.

Our escorts were a mix of Afghan ethnicities – Uzbek, Hazara, Tajik and Pashtun – from Baghlan and its neighbouring provinces. Most surprising, though, were the two who said they lived in Britain.

We were asked to wait for the district chief in the house of a burly, bearded man who spoke passable English with a hint of a London accent. For most of the time he lived in east London, he said, but he came to Afghanistan for three months of the year to fight. He was a mullah and had the rank of a mid-level Taliban commander.

“I work as a minicab driver there,” he said. “I make good money, you know. But these people are my friends and my family and it’s my duty to come to fight the jihad with them.

“There are many people like me in London,” he added. “We collect money for the jihad all year and come and fight if we can.”

He shared the compound-style house in Dhani-Ghorri with his brothers and sisters and their families. The oldest brother, a senior cleric or maulvi, also lived in London. Of his two younger brothers, one lived in Dubai and the other – a red-bearded young man who sat in the corner flipping prayer beads and whispering – in Norway.

The fighting season was coming to a close, they said, and the four of them were getting ready to return to their civilian lives abroad.

Our host explained the delay in the district chief’s arrival: he was resolving a dispute between two villages and would arrive soon.

A succession of bearded farmers who had just finished their work in the fields arrived at the house while we waited, bringing with them a smell of sweat and mud. They chatted about the operation of the day before, when one of their comrades attacked a Nato convoy wearing a suicide vest. He had successfully gained martyrdom by killing himself in the operation, they said.

When Lal Muhammad, the district chief, entered the room, all the men jumped to attention.

Lal Muhammad is a short and stern 32-year-old madrassa teacher. In his crisp blue shalwar qameez and dark brown glasses it was easier to imagine him giving a class in theology than leading men in battle. He sat down with his legs crossed, savouring the silence and his authority. He would explain how in three years his band of Taliban had grown to supplant the government as the real rulers of the district. First, though, he would show me a film on his mobile phone.

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Source, The Guardian.

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