- The Washington Times - Monday, July 28, 2003

CHAMAN, Pakistan — A week after he left Afghanistan’s lawless Kandahar province, Mir Jan, a terrorism trainer, was impatient to return. Eager students awaited: a new generation of Taliban recruits who are taught how to fight American troops and turn themselves into human bombs.

To avoid detection, Jan is constantly on the move, traveling from village to village and back across the border with Pakistan, but always plotting his return. He holds classes in explosives, hands out maps of American bases and tells the young volunteers how best to attack them.

“Jihad is in the blood of every Afghan,” Jan said. “We fought the British, drove out Russians and now we would convert Afghanistan into a graveyard for Americans.”

Last week Afghanistan’s struggling government urged Pakistan to do more to prevent Taliban fighters such as Jan from crossing the border, using Pakistan’s tribal areas as a refuge from which to attack Afghan targets.

Ali Ahmad Jalali, Afghanistan’s interior minister, said Afghans were angry about Pakistan’s failure to crack down.

“They see people coming from across the border to kill foreign workers who are helping Afghans,” he said. “They go and escape across the border. People have this question: Why is it happening?”

However, nothing promised by Pakistan has dented the Taliban’s confidence. Even as 1,000 men from Afghanistan’s new national army joined coalition forces hunting for al Qaeda members in the southern Paktia province, just across the border Jan was boasting of the Taliban’s strength.

Six Afghan policemen were killed in an ambush by suspected Taliban and al Qaeda guerrillas in the southern province of Helmand over the weekend, a provincial official said yesterday.

Further east, the U.S. military said Afghan and U.S.-led coalition forces had arrested seven Taliban suspects since starting a antimilitant sweep.

Jan’s recruits bristle with rocket-propelled grenades and assault rifles. “We don’t need to teach them the art of using arms because operating guns is our culture,” he said proudly.

“We teach them how to make explosives, how to make and detonate remote-control bombs. You don’t need any high-quality instrument or gadgets to make a remote-control bomb. You can use the timers of washing machines or even fans.”

While he waited for the word from his Taliban bosses to go back into Afghanistan, Jan stayed in a refugee camp in Chaman in Pakistan.

A veteran who fought against the Soviet Union 20 years ago, he lost two brothers in American air raids in Afghanistan after the September 11 attacks. Most of his students are sons or relatives of fighters killed during American air raids, or of former mujahideen.

He holds his classes in the southern provinces of Kandahar, Uruzgan, Zabul and Helmand, and the eastern provinces of Nangarhar, Kunar and Laghman — all Taliban strongholds.

In a separate development, Human Rights Watch sharply criticized the United States and other foreign powers in Afghanistan for failing to stem human rights abuses in the country, which it says could derail elections scheduled for June.

Violence, political intimidation and attacks on women and girls were discouraging political participation and endangering gains in women’s rights seen since the fall of the Taliban in late 2001, the New York-based group said in a report scheduled for release today.


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