Sleeping with the EnemyI had reservations about this segment when I saw the advertisements. From the transcript, at the start of the report, we hear that this warlord, Davran, lives with his family including small children in the mountatins. It is accompanied by shots of two of his children a boy and girl aged about six and five. (I'm sure the video mentions their ages.)
We lift the Taliban's veil and take you right inside the vipers' nest, thanks to documentary-maker Paul Refsdal.
MICHAEL USHER: In a tumble-down hut in the mountains of Kunar Province, eastern Afghanistan, a doting father plays with his two youngest children. Davran is a family man, a bloke who likes a laugh and a bit of sport with his mates. But Davran is also a Taliban commander. A ruthless fighter who's taking along his eldest son, aged 12, as he leads an ambush on unsuspecting coalition troops.A little further into the piece we see and hear how inept the Taliban is with their equipment, how they loaded a clip with the projectiles in the wrong way around, and how they have set up an ambush down in the valley and will attack from their position, which is quite close to where their families are living:
PAUL REFSDAL: I would expect to meet the demons, you know, with the long tails and a hole in their foreheads because of what I have been hearing in the media but what I met was normal people. Is she afraid, if she thinks I am American?
DAVRAN: Of course, yes.
MICHAEL USHER: This rare insight into the Taliban was recorded by Norwegian filmmaker Paul Refsdal, who lived, slept and ate with them for two weeks in their mountain hideaway.
MICHAEL USHER: Funny and at times, comically incompetent fumbling as they load their weapons. And the ‘Dad's Army’ approach to warfare became even more bizarre when Refsdal realised Davran was about to ambush a military convoy almost from the doorstep of his own home. One of the things that surprised me is here you have this commander fighting warfare with his wife and children in tow?There is no immediate retaliation from the Coalition soldiers for this ambush, it seems no fire is returned. The retaliation will come later, in a night attack. Refsdal leaves when Davran tells him it is dangerous to stay with him. Refsdal is later tricked into accompanying some al-Qaeda to meet Davran's 2IC and rival for the leadership, Omar, and is threatened with death as a spy. Davran hears of this and demands Refsdal is released. Omar releases Refsdal on condition that he converts to Islam. Refsdal converts and is released.
PAUL REFSDAL: He was leading the attack a couple of hundred metres away, 300m, 400m away maybe from his house. He was shouting to his children, you know, "Now you go and hide in the house."
Read the transcript for more details and background.
My reservations were well founded as far as Refsdal was concerned.
MICHAEL USHER: It was back here in Norway that Refsdal received news that Davran's home had again been attacked by US planes. The Taliban commander survived but two of his children were killed. When you found that out, how did you react?Transcript here. Video does not seem to be available, having seen the video it would be an interesting exercise to watch the characters mentioned in the transcript. The preening Omar with his henna'd hair. The gorgeous children.
PAUL REFSDAL: Well, very strongly, in a way, because...you know, if the Americans want to kill a commander like Davran, OK, kill him. But, you know...don't kill him in his house.
MICHAEL USHER: But this is a man who uses his home and the area around it as a fighting base to attack coalition soldiers. He's fair game.
PAUL REFSDAL: Yeah. He's fair game. But, still, they should not attack commanders in their own homes.