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Friday, July 26, 2013

Tales of the "White Taliban"

From the New York Times:

And now we may be seeing a new legend take shape, built on whispered accounts of brief sightings: tales of the White Taliban of Arghandab.


The mystery has many layers, perhaps starting with the fact that American Special Operations teams are a particular focus of apprehension and fascination for many Afghans. Few locals ever interact closely with the commandos, who move in secret as they conduct training missions and raid homes in remote areas, prosecuting an unpopular war out of public sight.

Ask most rural Afghans what they know about the American Special Ops guys, and they will talk about beards. Unlike the usually clean-shaven and uniformed conventional forces, the American commandos grow their beards out.

Usually, that doesn’t hide much. Coarse American accents and brusque movements would give them away even if they were trying to blend in.

But out in the Arghandab Valley of Kandahar Province, one of the most volatile regions in the country, locals talk about a different breed of American Special Operations forces who settled in around 2005. They are said to drive civilian vehicles, wear local clothes, speak good Pashto – and yes, sport thick beards.

They are so good at blending in that the locals have taken to calling them “Spin Taliban” – Pashto for White Taliban – because of their resemblance to the actual Afghan Taliban, including the trademark black, puffy turbans.
 Read the whole thing.

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