Monday, May 23, 2011

An on-going war!

A detainee lies on the ground as a US Marine guard
 While ago I thought that USA is a paradise for media and all part of US organizations, specially US troops let the information to be transfer hundred percent free to their people and to the world people.
When I arrived to Marjah, I asked PAO personnel many times, that if it was any operation, I would like to cover it and for sure when I am ready to cover any operation, I would accept all the possible risks too.

It was an operation in the first hours of today, May 23, 2011 in Shinghazak area, south of Marjah district in Helmand province and as I asked the platoon leader to send me for any operation, he did not inform me at all!

I should mentioned that, according to the situation, it may be difficult for them to take a journalist or they may not have place for me during the night ride into Taliban places. Any way, I was not in the operation and in the morning I woke up by Marine's helicopters sound and took my camera and run to the airfield which is attached to the Camp, where am I staying.

The few helicopters landed and US Marines from 3rd Betalion 9th Marines, Kilo company, took out 12 detainees from those gray, big and a bit scary helicopters.

A US Marine walks with a detainee

Their hands and their eyes were closed and Marines took their arms and help them to walk. Marines make them sit on the ground and face to the wall. I start doing my job and no one bothered me and I could take a lot of pictures. Some of the Marines passed me and smile me and as normal saying: 'Whats up man?' I realized that they are happy from the result of their ride.

I was watching a detainee, who was not comfortable and moved his body a lot, sometimes tried to move the scarf which was on his eyes and some times lied down on the ground. I saw before some addicted men who were acting like him when they did not receive heroin and I thought he is addicted for sure.

Marines took him to a room and brought some machine to check his finger prints, because of the secrets of their machines, I was not allowed to take pictures and I accept that. The finger prints of the man was exactly in the machine archive and he was a Taliban fighter according to US Marines documents.
A police officer and an Afghanistan's government official was presented and they were watching all the process. The elder man from the government was believed that most of the 12 detainees are not Taliban fighters. The Marines platoon leader who is a young man and smiles most of the time, told me that they will be sent to Camp Leatherneck to be investigate more and if it is confirmed that they are Taliban fighters will hand over to Afghanistan's officials and if they were innocent will be freed.

US Marines and Afghanistan's forces walk

I remembered that many times Karzai's government free them after a while or they easily escape from the jail as they did from Kandahar jail several weeks ago and will return to their group, keep killing people and this story will go on for a long time then US again has to spend money and young men lives to arrest them and this game will be on!!

I sent my photos and if you want to see more about what I saw you can go to: and search my name or search Helmand.

In the end, I hope to see an operation in this embed and write about the real story of an operation if the allow me.

All other photographers and journalists from Afghanistan, boycotted doing embeds with US and NATO troops as they believe they don't have enough and equal access like a western journalist, but I do embeds to know more and have more experience about US troops and whenever I find opportunity, I will talk to their media.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

End of the fear!

ANA soldiers during a training program in Camp Leatherneck
May 19
I was stuck in Camp Leatherneck on the way to Marjah, The night before I asked PAO for any event inside Leatherneck and a Marine woman told me that it will be a training day for ANA and I can cover it. I woke up in morning of May 19 when the speaker was talking about alert.

When I was going to the PAO center, three racket were fired from Leatherneck to somewhere. I arrived to training center and start my job. ANA soldiers were in really good mood with a high spirit. They sounds a bit more professional compare to other training centers. I went for lunch with them to talk more about what they think about Afghanistan and its future!

I was surprised, they thought that Bin Laden story was fake and believed that USA has made it up. One of them asked me If it was real then why they did not show any video and any photo?

One of them who was a Pashtoun nationality told me that he believes Mulla Omar is a fake name which USA made it to be here in this country and another ANA who was from Badakhshan said “No, Mulla Omar is existed he is our enemy and we should fight with him”.

I went to their tent, a big tent with AC and beds. When I start talking about what Taliban are doing to this country, the leather of that unit, who was a young Pashtoun from Kabul was trying to change the conversation! He was telling me that Taliban are not that bad as US people tell to the world. He said “ Taliban do not kill the journalists if they now them, look at Aljazeera”. He was trying to make me understand that Taliban are fighting for freedom and all NATO country are here to steal our mines and our money?!!
The first question in my mind was: How they can fight against Taliban when they don't know them enough?

A US trainer came to our tent and asked me to leave the tent. He told me that the camp is 'locked down' and I have to stay with them. It was a alert situation. I wet with him inside a Marine tent but as it was a bit hot inside I came out and start smoking in a shadow. A marine came to me from inside tent and told me that he has to search me, it was a bit insulting for me. If they let me come in as an embed journalist then why they want to search me again? I was living leatherneck for a week. They may think that I might have some thing to explode myself???!!!

I had to let him but he never answers my question. After an hour I called PAO to send me a car and drive me back to my tent and while I was waiting for the car outside of training center, another angry marine came to me and first of all asked me: “Did you take picture of our gate” and I said no and again asked me who are you and I show my ID and I told him: I was inside your training center and I was taking picture and making report, no one told you that I am embed with Marines and he just told OK and left. I'm sure whoever in this situation would be angry but I had to not complain as I am an Afghan passport holder and I felt that they can easily jail me!! :(

Finally, we flight to Marjah on 20th and we informed that Taliban fired racket on 19 stations in all Marjah and the reason that they scared a lot it was Taliban attack and they searched me because I am from Afghanistan and they don't trust us.

I don't judge but I write my personal feeling.

Now, I lost six days of my embed and I still could not go patrolling with them as I arrived last night here?!!
Taliban announced that they have started their Spring operation and these attckes are the result but an ANA major general told us that Taliban became so week and they are losing in Helmand and to show that they are still alive, they attack with racket but never able to fight face to face with ANA.

And few minutes ago two suicide attackers entered the biggest military hospital and killed several people. this count as Taliban Spring operation and no one knows how they could go inside while there is a heavy searching in the gate. :(

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Helmand or Hellman!

I start my current embed on May 13 with my colleague who is a blond British girl. We have been asked to be at the KAIA on 13th, afternoon to fly to Camp Bastion in Helmand province in south. When we were going to go inside the British aircraft, a young British invite us to go and sit in the pilot room. They were nice to us and I enjoyed flying with them and enjoyed watching the landing from there.

We arrived to hot province of Helmand which I renamed it as Hellman (Man from the Hell). Its too hot over here and our AC in the tent used by journalists is broken and no one care or fix it, although we asked them few times. During the day the temperature is more than 40 degree and we don't have any place to stay and we have to go to MWR which is a place to use the internet, watching TV, plying pool and tennis.

To use WI-FI internet we have to make an account somewhere else which is away from here. There is no any exceptional for journalists. Most of US army and US Marines are young and when you see their face they seem calm and when you talk to them they try to talk nice and show that they are serious and when you listen them while talking to each other, they talk like normal people about life matters, relationships and private matters.

There is no different between them like we have in our army. It is true that this American young boys and girls are here to get money as young, uneducated and jobless young men from Afghanistan do the same but when you see them working together, walking, eating and fighting together and if you are from Afghanistan you will ask that why Afghanistan's Army do not learn from them.

My other photographer colleague who came back from an embed from Marjah, the place that I'm going too, said me that it is fighting going on there and their base was under Taliban attack two times. One ANA soldier killed a US Marine's commander and injured few others. I do not understand that why Afghanistan's Army soldiers open fire on US military who are training them. The last serious incident was in Afghanistan's air force who killed nine US trainer and has been killed by others. He was not from Taliban and and he was just angry for something. Why killing and dying it is too easy in this country?

This is my first embed after Usama Bin Laden death in Pakistan by US Navy special force who flow from Afghanistan and killed him and throw his body to the sea, and finished the story of a horrible terrorist who ruined a lot of lives in my country. The biggest terrorist who was watching porn in his compound as US Navy found pornography at his home near Islamabad in Pakistan.

I will see how Usama's story will effect on US military and their fighting against terror. Are think that their job is finished in Afghanistan and they will go back home and repeat their mistake which they have done it after the Russian in 1992 by Afghanistan's Mujahedin to start the civil war?

Mujahedin's leaders have power inside Karzai's government and they still can make another civil war and Afghanistan public opinion afraid and scare of that. It is believe that Taliban are getting much stronger as they manage to scape from Kandahar prison by decking a tunnel and no one knew and they launched Badar operations right now. Let's see what the 'Karzai's Angry Brothers' will do with this mentally sick society!?

Pray for me to have good photos :) Cheers.

Friday, May 6, 2011

US killed Bin Laden but no one was covinced!

This picture is not real
 Special force of US Navy Seals had a ride to Osama Bin Laden, the father of terror and fear, in a small town near Islamabad, Pakistani capital on 1st of May. I woke up at 7:30 am which my office called and told me the news. I was shocked and later I get excited about the news. I was so happy to hear that because a lot of people from Afghanistan and other countries were died just because he thought that God send him to stop westerners for being cruel to Muslims, but the result was dying of a lot of Muslim specially in my country.

I cam to my office and it was not much to do here in Kabul. I went to some tea houses and TV shops to see if people are watching news and have their reactions. Most of the ordinary people had no idea but most of educated people were happy to hear that. Some Afghanistan's local TV were showing a fake picture of Osama with a bloody face.

I became happy to hear that but never convinced about it. US and international media were telling the story like: US attack to Bin Laden house and killed him and took his body and then buried him in the sea and the story is finished. Could I or any one else be convinced when no one see any photos or video?

Pakistan ISI said they are ashamed that they could not find Osama's place in Afghanistan and later, Pakistani government announced that they investigate and asked Bin Laden's wife and they found some children which it is believed that they are Bin Laden's children. All these news coming from Pakistan is trying to confirmed the Bin Laden's death.

Obama told to the journalists that they would not publish the photos as they can be used by extremist to make protests and photos will excite anti US and anti westerners emotions. Do you think it is a good excuse to not publishing the truth? Who should decide what kind of truth people can be aware of or what people should watch?

All photos and videos will be published some day whether Obama want or not but if Obama let them to be published, he will show that USA is sure that what ever they decide was right and they did a right job, but if they don't it means that they are not sure at all.

USA always trying to show that they are defending freedom of speech and all true information freely can be transfer to people who have the right to know. Do US people have right to know what happened during that raid? Do other people around the world have rights to know?
Other question which does not have answers yet: How USA became sure that the person who they killed is real Bin Laden? Any DNA test? Was any one from free media to take picture of his dead body?

USA government is in really sensitive situation to confirm that what ever they say about freedom of speech and Human rights is true and their politician believe them.

Afghanistan's president Hamid Karzai was so happy as he could confirmed to the world that Bin Laden is in Pakistan, not in Afghanistan. Pakistani PM also try to travel to some European countries and beg to not cutting the help and donation to Pakistan.

I think the story of Bin Laden it is not finish as USA and Afghanistan wish. The ideology and his terror organization still are alive and there are enough stupid people around the world to follow him and start making more terrorist attack to every one. Now, we are waiting for Afghanistan if some demonstrations happens.