Afghanistan: The Road to Hell

Tim Lynch and Shem Klimiuk: if you need to go somewhere in Afghanistan, these are the men to call. Unarmored, low profile. Dangerous.

Don’t miss Michael Yon’s latest dispatch. Excerpt:

The Wilds, Afghanistan

Since leaving the British embed, I’ve gone unilateral. I flew back and forth between Kandahar and Lashkar Gah, drove around and talked with people down south, then flew up to Kabul. In Kabul, I met Tim Lynch and Shem Klimiuk (a retired USMC and ex-Aussie paratrooper, respectively), and we drove in an unarmored truck east to Jalalabad. The canyon-filled drive would be dangerous even if there was no war, but there is a war – a rapidly growing one — and Tim pointed out burnt spots on the road where ambushes had occurred. I was unarmed, and counting on the military experience of my two guides as well as their combined seven years experience in Afghanistan. In the weeks that I would spend with Tim and Shem, we drove more than a thousand miles up and down Afghan roads without the slightest drama, except that Tim scares me with his driving. If you are rich and want the adventure of a lifetime, contact Tim Lynch. You might die. But if you live, you’ll come back with a new perspective on Afghanistan.

…As we drove along the road between Kabul and Jalalabad, Tim stopped the truck near Sarobi, where we could see the village in the valley below. Tim said that Sarobi is “HIG” country, and that it was actually HIG who killed the French. Not the Taliban. HIG, or Hizb-I Islami Gulbuddin, was founded by Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, a warlord who hates the U.S. HIG is a terrorist group and a faction of Hizb-I Islami, all with ties to al Qaeda and Bin Laden. Hekmatyar offered homestead to Bin Laden more than ten years ago. Collectively, we call these groups (and others) “Taliban,” but that blanket term is not completely accurate. The Afghanistan/Pakistan insurgency is a complex, distributed and hydra-headed network of different people fighting for different reasons. Sometimes they work together, sometimes they don’t. If they “succeed” in kicking us out of Afghanistan, they will probably end up fighting each other. Some of the people we call Taliban are al Qaeda-affiliated terrorists. Others are local insurgents fighting for revenge, self-respect, or because they’re simple, ornery mountain folk who have traded in their spears and torches for AKs and RPGs. Iraq is a few decades behind the west; Afghanistan is practically on a different planet.

There are many incredible photos.