Taliban fighter confesses to training with Pakistan army

The Canadian Press:

A former Taliban fighter has provided a gripping first-hand account of being secretly trained by members of the Pakistani military, paid $500 a month and ordered to kill foreigners in Afghanistan.

Mullah Mohammed Zaher offered a vivid description of a bomb-making apprenticeship at a Pakistani army compound where he says he learned to blow up NATO convoys.

He's one of three former Taliban fighters introduced to The Canadian Press by an Afghan government agency that works at getting rebels to renounce the insurgency.

Zaher insists he was neither forced to go public with his story nor coached by Afghan officials, whose routine response to terrorism on their soil is to blame neighbouring Pakistan.

Pakistan officially sides with the West against the insurgents and vigorously denies mounting accusations that it is a two-faced participant in the war on terror.

A report produced for the Pentagon and released this month by the Rand Corp., a U.S. think-tank, claims individuals in the Pakistani government are involved in helping the insurgents.

An illiterate, career warrior, Zaher has not seen the 177-page report. But he made a series of claims in a 90-minute interview that supported its broad conclusions - and offered a deluge of new details.

He described how men in khaki army fatigues housed, fed, paid and finally threatened insurgents into carrying out attacks on foreign troops.

Perhaps most startling of all was his description of the repeated warning from Pakistani soldiers about where trainees would be sent if they refused to fight: Guantanamo Bay.


Zaher said he was among the elite.

He said he arrived in 2003 for his first of several training sessions at a walled military compound in the Nawakilli area outside Quetta, Pakistan.

He said he was greeted warmly by men in military fatigues, introduced to his fellow trainees and taken to a single-storey white building where for the next 20 days he would eat, sleep and learn the finer points of waging jihad.


Zaher said he learned to produce a variety of explosives. They ranged from a crude bomb with wiring and fertilizer stuffed into a plastic jug, to more sophisticated remote-contolled devices.

"I can even make a bomb by buying stuff at the bazaar - for $10."


There is more.

His story probably has some truth in it. There is more and more evidence of Pakistan duplicity in the war. It is something that requires a confrontation with the Pakistanis to find those responsible for the training and financing of the Taliban operations.


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