A Baptist and a Mullah Team Up to Fight Taliban

US captain urges Afghan colonel to show faith to locals
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Jul 16, 2009 9:35 AM CDT
A soldier of the Afghan National Army looks out towards a village while searching for pro-Taliban fighters in Kuk Cenar, Baghlan province, northern Afghanistan, Wednesday, July 8, 2009.   (AP Photo/Bela Szandelszky)
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(Newser) – A Baptist Army officer has teamed up with an Afghan mullah to fight Taliban propaganda that calls the Afghan army godless. “The only way we can keep people from becoming Taliban is by promoting the Muslim nature of the Afghan National Army,” says the mullah, Lt. Col. Abdul Haq. So Capt. James Hill, assigned as one of the US military's mentors to the Afghan Army, has been distributing prayer rugs and coaching Haq on how to show his faith to locals, the Wall Street Journal reports.

“I'm proud of my mentor, beard or no beard,” says Haq, who at 51 has never shaved. He studied religion and took up arms after the Soviets invaded Afghanistan in 1979. Hill says he never developed “that bias that many Americans had" against Muslims after 9/11. Together, the two have traveled and mingled with villagers. “It's very good that an artillery officer and a religious officer work together,” Haq said. “If the people are happy, we won't need cannons.”