The Story Of One Man Who Tracks Down Dead Taliban Fighters And Brings Them Home To Rest

Afghanistan CabAfghan boys run after a taxi in a deserted street in Kabul

Photo: AP

One part-time taxi driver has become the go-to guy for every Taliban commander looking for a fallen insurgent.Kevin Sieff at The Washington 

Afghanistan GraveyardA graveyard in central Kabul

Photo: AP

Post reports on Abdul Hakim from Afghanistan and it’s easy to picture him tooling through the streets of Kandahar in his tired yellow taxi, one hand on the steering wheel, flinching at the chirp of his cell phone even as he puts it to his ear.Hakim is a malik, a respected 65 year old elder whose lack of alliances allow him to operates within Taliban circles, and the NATO led areas that house the Taliban war dead.

NATO helicopters bring fallen insurgents to the Kandahar Airfield several times a month. After the bodies are checked for unexploded ordnance, the corpses are laid out in plywood boxes alongside dead American troops in caskets covered with U.S. flags.

The phone call in the cab will send Hakim to the morgue with a description and a place of death. “Are you looking for a short man with a black beard, around 21?” He’ll ask contacts. “Do you know of any suicide bombers who died in Zhari district late last month?”

When he finds who he’s looking for, Hakim writes his name on a register and checks out the body. Other lines hold blue fingerprints from illiterate family members who found one of their own.

With permission from the insurgents written on Taliban stationary, Hakim has tracked down and delivered 127 Afghan fighters, bringing them to their final resting place in the trunk of his cab.

He’s become vital to the Taliban at recovering their fallen comrades, and nobody thought he would continue helping after Taliban snipers killed two of his four sons last year.

The pair were riding in the car on the way to a picnic when the snipers spotted the driver and targeted him as someone who worked with the U.S. military.

The shooters didn’t stop until everyone in the vehicle was dead.

“I was helping these guys. I was doing something they needed,” he said to Sieff. “I asked them, ‘Why did you do this?'”

 He never got an answer, and after two days of mourning he was back in his cab waiting for the phone to ring.

“This is how I help my country,” he told Sieff after giving the matter some though. “And who else could do this job?”


Read Sieff’s whole story here >


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