“The Russians were here before, they’re here now, and they will be here in the future. To us it makes no difference who stands there, Tajiks or Russians.”
Military experience gained in the Balkans, the Horn of Africa and Afghanistan has made Germany more, not less, assertive. One of the clearest signs is Angela Merkel’s pursuit of weaponized drones.
Just one seat away on the helicopter sits Commander Masood himself. As I prepare to introduce myself, I notice his lips are moving in silent prayer. I wonder if I shouldn’t be doing the same.
“We want to turn Afghanistan into our base and bring Islam to the whole world,” says Salahuddin Khalib, a Taliban fighter whose bright eyes shine through his oversized glasses. “We know that many Muslims will die. But if 10,000 are killed in the process, we’ll make 5 billion new ones.”