Recently the New York Times had an article on how former insurgents in Mehtar Lam who embraced the Afghan government’s reconciliation program are slowly drifting back to the insurgency. On its 2004-05 deployment, 3/3 helped multiple insurgents in that area, most famously Najmuddin, lay down their arms and integrate back into the Afghan government.
Whatever happened to them?
Over the years I’ve made a point of trying to keep track of the various key leaders we interacted with on our deployments. The scorecard hasn’t been encouraging: our police chief in Karmah, LtCol Abd Al Salam, barely survived a 300-pound IED attack over a year after we left. He’s one of the lucky ones. Most of the town council and elders had been wiped out by a suicide bomber just eight months earlier. I have no idea what’s happened to him in the intervening four years.
Our police chief from Nawa, Major Sayfullah, was killed in 2011 in neighboring Garmsir. Ironically, 3/3 had just transferred to that battlespace and he was buried by the same Marines he’d worked side-by-side with a year earlier. Other key leaders from that deployment, like Haji Hamidullah Helmand and Molavi Shawali, have been killed.
These individuals were relatively famous, or their deaths were covered by military publications, but most of our friends and foes were rather anonymous. Whatever happened to them? Are they still fighting? Hiding somewhere in Afghanistan or Pakistan? Rejoining the Taliban? Or lying somewhere in a ditch?
Site News: It’s been six months since my last post and I’ve been extremely busy juggling a newborn, academics, and my job. Hopefully I’ll be able to post again regularly. I’ve launched into the February events with a vengeance and started putting the word out with our battalion alumni for pictures and videos.