Living with the Taliban on the Afghan frontline by Alex Thomson

by Alex Thomson
Channel 4 News

Channel 4 News has obtained rare film of Taliban fighters on the Afghanistan frontline, including footage of their attacks on US forces. Channel 4 News Chief Correspondent Alex Thomson looks at what the film tells us about the insurgents and their tactics.

Even if I did want to do it, I would not be allowed to by ITN. Nor would anybody here. But out there in the wide open world of the freelancer, Paul Refsdal did it. He did it brilliantly well.

If he hadn’t slightly overplayed his hand at the last moment, he would have got away with it unscathed and pulled the whole thing off. But even as it is, he has emerged from Afghanistan with footage the like of which has not been seen I will bet, in nine years of war.

Because that’s what it’s like if you want to seek out the Taliban or other insurgent groups across Afghanistan and set up what the west would call an “embed” with them. It’s a helluva risk.

Paul is at least alive to tell the tale and sell his story. Though not without a six day kidnapping under murky circumstances. The Norwegian cameraman insists that no ransom was paid.

Armed fighters

It all starts with the moment when you move beyond the point of return. When the RV finally takes place up some distant mountain track in the east of the country in this case, Kunar Province.

Unsmiling, heavily armed fighters suddenly materialise and then there you are, out there, on your own, with nothing but trust to keep you going. From behind their turban-masked faces they are smirking, saying quietly to each other, “He’s really scared of us, isn’t he?” And so it went on for the whole of the first day as they trekked back up to their command post.

Day two and things had calmed a little. Commander Dawran – who set the whole thing up – made it plain that Refsdal is a guest. And that is that. Under Afghan custom they will now pretty much lay down their arms to protect him. Rather, on this occasion, than shoot or behead him as a suspected spy.

And by the second day the faces are being revealed, they are laughing around and joking: “If I appear in this people are going to say ‘Who’s the country boy?’” His mate laughs and adds: “He’s filming us all to say look here – these are the bad guys.” And things begin to fall into something of a routine.



video no longer available

Living with the Taliban on the Afghan frontline


Updated: August 27, 2014

Behind The Taliban Mask: The Other Side Of Afghanistan’s Front-line

Journeyman Pictures on Feb 25, 2014

Though they would eventually kidnap him, the Taliban granted journalist Paul Refsdal unprecedented access. This exclusive documentary shows us a side of the Taliban that we have never seen before.


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9 thoughts on “Living with the Taliban on the Afghan frontline by Alex Thomson

  1. Pingback: Kucinich Continues to Rally Opposition to War « Dandelion Salad

  2. That’s some serious work, DS. God help Afghanistan, & the US needs to get out.

    But any who align with islam is by definition a generalization by personal choice, as with zionism, capitalism, or any other selfish cult. If you join one of these insane clubs you’re a generalization.

    That’s the whole point of selfish cults; conformity, abandonment of independence, loss of liberty & free will, always abuse of women.

    This form of faith is about dominance, subjugation & control. It’s not about freedom, nor god. It’s cultism & killing.

    We will nevertheless spend some time with those posts. Thank you.

  3. What really is the point of dealing at all with Islam?
    It is a worldwide cult of killing, and no there aren’t any peaceful muslims, they are all crazy.

    All Islam needs to be isolated, sanctioned, cut off. No fighting of them will prevail, only make more maniacs.

    These are the people who blew up the Bamiyan Buddha. This is not a rational people. Let them suffer in their vile waterless caves wherever the disease of islam occurs.

    Women will eventually rise up and demand these bearded bums behave, but you can’t teach them.

    Stoning people…This is insane.

    Get out of all of these places with these insane people, isolate them, get out. These are not freedom fighters, they are crazy cultists all. They live to kill. Sick, Sick, Sick.

    • Are you kidding, Natureboy? You sound just like some of the Christian Fundamentalists and their Islamophobia talk.

      You have to not overgeneralize any group of people.

      And God has nothing to do with those who perpetrate violence. God is LOVE.

      • I’m really annoyed, they stone women, they blew up the Bamiyan Buddha. I’m only partly kidding.

        I want us to get out of there and leave them alone, they need like a thousand years to evolve. Why are even in Afghanistan?

        You have to admit these are truly backward people, male-centric, Abrahamic infidels at their very worst. In any case nothing to be fighting about, leave them alone, smelly unwashed bearded bad people.

        Really we have to let islam alone and let it evolve, they will leave us alone in turn. It is a bad faith, bad people, judge people on how women & children are treated (But beautiful mosques).

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