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Ex-Taliban Insurgents Pledge Allegiance to Afghan Government

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 28, 2005 – Two ex-Taliban insurgents this week began the process of formally renouncing violence and swearing reconciliation to the duly elected government of Afghanistan.

They are taking part in the government's Takhim-E Solh, or Strengthening Peace, program. Takhim-E Solh grants amnesty to mid- and low-level insurgents who agree to stop fighting and peacefully enter into civil society.

Coalition officials explained the program aims to break the cycle of violence that plagues Afghanistan, enabling the country to build a more safe and prosperous future.

Only mid- and low-level insurgents are eligible for the program. High-level Talibans and individuals accused of war crimes are deliberately excluded. Takhim-E Solh petitioners must pledge loyalty to the government of Afghanistan and renounce violence against Afghan and coalition forces

Amir and Ismail both expressed a desire to return to their homes and work within the law, officials said.

"From the beginning. I have never had anything to do with those people (insurgents) and have had nothing against the government and coalition," Amir said in a statement signed during his initial interview with Afghan and coalition forces.

Takhim-E Solh is based on trust, but not blind trust: Petitioners must undergo background checks to ensure that they are not accused of any serious crimes against the Afghan people or coalition forces.

Takhim-E Solh "is a vital tool for the government of Afghanistan as it continues the difficult process of rebuilding this war-torn nation," says U.S. Army Brig. Gen. James G. Champion, deputy commanding general for operations for Combined Joint Task Force 76.

Ex-Taliban and other former fighters need to "know they can come back home so long as they accept the democratically elected government here," he noted. "A lot of individuals may fear they or their families will be imprisoned if they return, but that's clearly not the case."

Also in Afghanistan, Afghan and coalition forces May 27 killed a man who attacked an allied patrol with small arms fire. The man was riding a motorcycle east of Shinkay when he initiated his attack. The patrol returned fire, killing the man.

Afghan and coalition forces are conducting a number of patrolling operations near Shinkay and in the Zabul province. These patrols are designed to disrupt insurgent activity, thereby helping to build a safe and stable environment for Afghans.

(Compiled from Combined Forces Command Afghanistan news releases.)

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