Australian military trains controversial Afghanistan fighters in Australia

12:16, October 29, 2010      

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The Australian military has helped train senior Afghan militia fighters under the control of a controversial warlord, in a bid to strengthen operations against the Taliban, a report unveiled on Friday.

According to Fairfax, six soldiers under the control of the controversial Afghan warlord, Matiullah Khan, visited Australia last week to train with some of Australian Defense's elite soldiers.

Khan, a powerful war lord in the southern Uruzgan province in Afghanistan, charges the U.S. and Australia millions of dollars a month to protect military supply convoys, and was accused of having a similar arrangement with drug traders.

The report said although Khan is one of the most powerful figures in Uruzgan province, the Dutch forces had refused to work with Khan because of his alleged links to murder and extortion, and blocked his appointment as local police chief.

Australian Chief of the Defense Force Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston on Friday confirmed a group of Afghanistan fighters were brought to Australia for military training, but refused to confirm whether the Afghan group has linked to Khan.

He defended the decision at a lecture at the University of Canberra, saying that training the Afghanistan men is a necessary part of Australia's strategy in Afghanistan.

Professor William Maley, director of the Asia Pacific College of Diplomacy at the Australian National University, told The World Today "Muttiallah is a classic example of the wisdom of the old warning that those who sup with the devil should use a long spoon".

"There are degrees of shadiness in Afghanistan but his forces have been accused at different stages of having run extortionate road blocks in various parts of the province and they have even been suggestions that they have engaged in activities to simulate those of the Taliban so as to justify the continued role that they claim to play within the province."

However, Jim Molan, a retired major general, told ABC Radio on Friday that the training may not be anything to worry too greatly about, added that training the militiamen may benefit the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) forces in the central Asian war zone.

Source: Xinhua


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