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5,000 Afghan 'militants' have surrendered - but are they real?

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Earlier this month in Afghanistan’s northern Baghlan Province, Commander Abdul Wali and about 40 of his fighters became some of the nation’s most recent re-integrees. Mr. Wali, however, admits he was never much of an insurgent.

During Afghanistan’s civil war, he battled the Taliban, fighting under the storied Northern Alliance commander Ahmad Shah Massoud. An ethnic Tajik, he is an opponent of the extremist group, which draws about 95 percent of its fighters from Afghanistan’s Pashtun community.

After the US invasion, he became a district police commander in Baghlan’s remote Firing district, a position he enjoyed until about two years ago when he was involved in a shooting that left a civilian dead. Mr. Wali says he was innocent, and a police investigation confirmed his side of the story – that the victim died fighting in a local feud.

The case never went to trial and Wali says that he stepped down as police commander and broke ties with the government amid mounting accusations. In protest, about 40 men from his community joined with him to form an opposition group. Unlike most insurgents, Wali and his men say they never fired a shot, nor did they plan to. Most people in the community agree they were never a threat to locals or international forces.

“We just cut relations with the government. We didn’t try to help the government, but we didn’t try to kill Muslims, send suicide bombers, or place IEDs. We did nothing,” says Wali.

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