A chilling story from Dawn:
PESHAWAR, Oct 22: If he is telling the truth, 15-year-old Khalid still doesn’t know how he ended up in a godforsaken place like Waziristan. And if what he says in true, the military which has the young Tajik in custody has the stuff of the real story behind the ‘jihad’ in the troubled tribal region.
Caught on Oct 1, while he was fleeing after a fellow Turkmen was gunned down by Shamankhel tribesmen in Sarwekai when a landmine killed four local students and left two others wounded, the young man from Urjinzabad in Tajikistan continues to baffle his interrogators.
“He is consistent,” said a military investigator. “He has made a cover story and he sticks to it,” he said. “If Khalid is lying, he is a damn good liar for his age,” said another officer…
“I want to go back to my mother. I want to go home. Give me a man to take me to her. I don’t want to fight in the jihad. Serving your mother also earns one God’s blessings (Sawab),” was his answer when asked if he was freed to resume the ‘jihad’…
According to Khalid’s account of his rather dramatic ordeal, he was kidnapped along with four other boys by four masked men when they were on their way to school in Koibish, about a month before his capture in Waziristan.
They were all blindfolded and thrown into a van and driven all the way to Peshawar. The men, he said, were Tajik. This is where his story does not make any sense. He says he does not remember how long it took them to reach Peshawar and who were his kidnappers.
All that he does say is that Mujahideen in Tajikistan routinely kidnap children and release them after extorting ransom, steal people’s belongings, including their livestock and deal in narcotics….
He said he had been sodomised, a fact also established by an army medical report. Khalid said that he spent a few days with a one-eyed man he knew by the name of Mohammad Hassan in Shakai….
The 15-year-old denied having planted the mine and said that he had merely accompanied them not knowing what they were doing. He was hit by a bullet in the hip and was caught by tribesmen while the Turkmen were killed.
He denies having anything to do with foreign militants, but admits having seen Arabs in Waziristan. For him Osama bin Laden is a Mujahid and he knew Qari Tahir Yaldash whose posters, he said, he had seen in Shakai.
The boy said he also knew Jummabai (Jumma Namangani), leader of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, who was killed in a US bombing raid in northern Afghanistan during the beginning of the war.
He also knew Turanzadeh, another militant who, he said, used to come to his village in Tajikistan. For the 15-year-old, Tajik President Imam Ali Rakhmanov was a Kafir (infidel). He loved his new name Khalid, given to him by his abductors, because for him it was a Muslim name. “Maroof is a Kufr name,” he insisted.
He said that he had learnt to offer his prayers in Shakai and saw ‘true Islam being practised in the tribal region’. The only time that he probably betrayed his real self when a colleague photographer began taking his pictures. “Why are you taking so many pictures. I am not a commander?” he remarked. When a colleague journalist retorted by calling him “Commander Khalid”. He smiled back and said “Insha Allah”.