I'll be away for a couple of days after this, so I'd like to guide you to Alex van Linschoten's stuff over at From the Frontline. He is writing dispatches from Kandahar, a province of which he knows a lot. I hereby wish him success with his oral history project. The price of my goodwill? I'd just like to insert here a small excerpt from his account of how mullah Omar lost his eye back at the battle of Sangisar. Last year I tried to put together Omar's story, which you find here. Alex' post is a cool addition now (which is kind of a self-flattering way from my part of saying that one day his account of the rest of the story might allow all the mistakes to be spotted in my version that might be there - based on information I couldn't get to with my off-location research).
"One of my interviewees, let’s call him Rahmat, was on his way to Sangisar from battles elsewhere in Kandahar province. Mullah Omar was living in Hajji Ibrahim Qala at the time, a sort of house/fort, with some of his friends and fellow mujahideen.Let’s not forget, too, that the Taliban existed as a mujahideen force before 1994. It’s a topic worthy of a separate blog post, but just remember that Mullahs and ‘Taliban’ (as in ’students’) formed a significant part of the mujahideen fighting force in Kandahar province throughout the 1980s.So all the mujahideen from Maiwand and Panjwayi districts arrived in Sangisar for a ‘big fight’."
The story you may read there reminded me of this photo by Goran Tomasevic (Reuters, May 18, this year) of a Marine almost getting hurt in Helmand - unlike Omar, only almost. Any lesson? In a war, man's life is nasty, brutish and quite possibly random. How about that?