April 2002 News

US main enemy: Pak jihadis

4 April 2002
The Hindustan Times
Yashwant Raj

Sheberghan, Afghanistan: Abdul Halim was a small shopkeeper in Pakistan who went to Afghanistan to look for his cousin. He failed to find him and was planning to return when US B-52s began pounding Afghanistan. The sight made a jehadi of him. 'I saw vehicles and homes destroyed in the bombing — and the people killed were not soldiers but innocent civilians,' the 32-year-old from Punjab says. Horrified, he declared war on the US. “It has crossed all limits.” Lacking any military training, he worked as a driver for the Taliban in Kunduz, ferrying men and supplies to the frontline. He was captured and brought to the jail here when Kunduz fell. Halim's motivations were simple. 'If someone starts misusing his power, you have to decide whether you want to give in and become his slave, or fight him.' In interviews to the Hindustan Times, many of the 830 Pakistanis held prisoner near Mazar-i-Sharif spoke of their anger against the US. Many spoke of the need for revenge. For people like Harkat ul Jehadi Islami fighter Zaid Ahmad, 20, the US was always the great satan. The Afghan bombing only added to a long list of reasons to hate the US. 'I came here to fight the Americans,' he says. 'If I had known the Taliban were fighting fellow Muslims (of the Northern Alliance), I would have stayed home.' When he trained at HuJI's Kotli camp, the US was always the primary target. 'That was the real jehad.' Zaid was to be disappointed. The US sent only a few special forces teams who spent their time looking for Osama bin Laden. All he could see of 'the real enemy' were B-52s high in the sky. 'There were no soldiers to fight.' Coming to Afghan eager to spill US blood and not finding any Americans: This was a common grouse among the Pakistani prisoners, many of whom had been inspired by Jaish-e-Muhammad chief Masood Azhar's speeches about the need to stop the US. It was also disappointing to find that the enemy were also Muslim Afghans fed up with Taliban rule. 'Muslim fighting Muslim is not jehad, it's firkaparasti (sectarianism),' explained one. Some still hope. Zaid dreams of fighting alongside the Palestinians. 'The war against the US will happen,' he says. 'If not now, then later. The Americans will regret what they have done.'

 

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