Friday, November 24, 2006
Jalalabad - Execution Tree and other Grim Reminders
The ANA complex where SLAG works used to be a Taliban/Al Queda complex. Of course it was bombed during the 2001 campaign. As we drove in and parked our vehicles, we parked across from a derelict building that has seen better days. As I looked closer at the building, I could see bullet holes in the cement stucco. I then noticed that the large trees in front of the wall also had bullet holes in them. I assumed that they were shot during the fighting. Later Slag told me a far different story.
He told us that the building used to be a Taliban prison. He said that they would bring their prisoners outside, place the prisoners backs against the tree and execute them at gunpoint. As he was telling us this, we had walked over to the tree to take a closer look. Instinctively I looked down to see if there was any blood on the ground, knowing of course, that there wouldn’t be. I couldn’t help myself. I then reached out my hand to touch the scars in the tree but couldn’t do that. The thought of actually touching something that had seen so much death and torture repulsed me. I felt sad for the tree, as silly as that sounds. It was a huge, beautiful tree and here it had been used to such an awful purpose. Slag, Ken and I posed for a picture. As I stood there facing the camera, my skin crawled at the thought of the men who had stood where I had stood and had faced, not a camera, but a rifle. Wais wouldn’t go near the tree as it made him sick at the thought. I didn’t blame him.
We were then taken to the last house that Bin Laden had lived in just prior to the campaign. Again, there was that feeling of something evil lurking around the corner. I started to snicker as I had the thought that I wanted to pee on the building just to insult him. Of course I’m too mature and dignified to do such a thing, but I must admit the through crossed my mind.
Despite the beauty of the complex, it has its evil, horrifying history.