Embedded with the Taliban

August 27, 2010

Discussions around embedded journalism in Afghanistan tend to focus on journalists joining up with NATO or U.S. forces but what about the view we get from an embed with the Taliban?

In the video below, Norwegian journalist Paul Refsdal risks his life to film Taliban operations with a commander in Eastern Afghanistan. There’s some intriguing footage here including an attack on a U.S. convoy and snapshots of everyday life.

Throughout the group’s ideological commitment to the cause stands out: "We fight for freedom, our religion Islam and its principles. We are fighting for the freedom of our land…Allah the All-Powerful will destroy them as He did many other great powers".

But the film humanises ‘the enemy’. We see Commander Dowran’s young children and the Taliban sharing food and prayers together.

Other images are more troubling as we see very young men carrying weapons along with their elders.

In an online chat hosted by SBS Dateline Refsdal said he did:

"…not go to make propaganda, neither for the Taliban nor against them. I entered their area with an open mind, and even though I was surprised by how “normal” they were, tried to report as objectively as possible what I observed with them."

Refsdal was kidnapped two weeks later by a commander called Omar but released without a ransom being paid.