It’s a huge risk meeting Taliban fighters. There’s not just the threat that they might turn on you after promising you an interview. Our producer, Qais Azimy, was returning from one of his previous visits when he was arrested by Afghan intelligence. They held him for questioning for three days. The phrase “don’t shoot the messenger” comes to mind.
This time Qais spent a day with a large group who have taken control of part of Baghlan province up in the north of the country. He met a minder at a prearranged place and was guided safely into their village where they’d gathered to attend the mosque and listen to a famous Taliban singer. More on this Afghan musician in our next exclusive report with the Taliban later this week.
Qais was nervous. He couldn’t stop thinking that this gathering was just the sort of target the international forces seeks out from the air. During the filming his ears were permanently strained listening for the sound of an aircraft, helicopter or drone overhead.
But these fighters showed no fear. They seemed oblivious to the possible dangers of an air strike.
Some covered their faces from the camera. These men still want to come and go within Afghan society and not be recognised. Others clamoured to be on camera. Displaying their weapons proudly they talked of how they believed, once the foreign forces left the country, they would remove President Karzai’s government within 24 hours.
Their morale was very high. American talk of withdrawal has boosted their belief that the battle is won.
Filming over, Qais headed back to the highway, hugely relieved that the visit was over. But today he’s laying low just in case Afghan intelligence come knocking on his door once again.