International

Former Afghan Intelligence Service Chief: The Taliban 'Are Our Killers'

Amrullah Saleh

hide captionFormer head of Afghan intelligence Amrullah Saleh was fired earlier this year because of his opposition to the Karzai administration's efforts to negotiate with the Taliban. He says a Taliban-friendly government would mean Afghan rights are "violated fundamentally."

Jim Wildman/NPR

The tomb of Ahmad Shah Massoud is a domed structure that towers over the Panjshir Valley.

It was here that Massoud and his warlord militia managed to carve out one of the only places in Afghanistan that has kept the Taliban at bay — both in the 1990s and today.

As the sun rises each day on Massoud's tomb, its shadow nearly hits the boyhood home of Amrullah Saleh. Saleh was a foot soldier for Massoud — also a clerk, a translator, and an aide.

"I was not a very important person when he was alive," he said.

Up until this year, Amrullah Saleh was head of Afghanistan's National Directorate of Security, the intelligence service. He was fired by President Karzai when he opposed the administration's effort to begin negotiations with the Taliban.

What does Karzai mean when he says he wants peace with the Taliban? We think if we do not rise today, our rights — our very basic rights — in a deal with the Taliban will be violated fundamentally.

On Morning Edition, Saleh is not talking about taking up arms. At least not yet.

As many Afghans weary of war have told NPR, they actually support negotiating with the Taliban — at times calling these Taliban their "Afghan brothers." Saleh has started what he calls an awareness campaign.

Why are we continuously calling the Taliban our brothers? They are our killers. I don't need that type of brother. I am not anti-peace. But I am anti-Talibanization of Afghanistan. We were fighting the Taliban before NATO and if we see our history, our life, our principles are compromised in a deal with the Taliban, we will fight again.

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