Released today is news that Russian operatives paid Taliban fighters in Afghanistan to kill American soldiers. The story makes me think about the Russian military-officer- turned-jihadist named Irek Hamidullin who in 2015 was tried and convicted in a Richmond, Virginia, court for his participation in an attack that threatened American lives in Khost, Afghanistan. The case can be read about in this Military Times article.

I’ve always thought that story didn’t receive as much play as it deserved, but then, I’m personally invested. Near the same time in 2009 as the attack for which Hamidullin was convicted took place, he allegedly participated in or directed another attack on a US Army convoy in Khost. I was the patrol leader of that convoy; we were ambushed minutes after departing Camp Clark to inspect Afghan National Army outposts. I can’t claim to have seen Hamidullin that day, but I can vouch for the attack. We killed two insurgents, but they killed a very good American, one who stood next to me as the .50-cal gunner in my truck.

Army CID agents interviewed me about the attack, but my testimony ultimately was not used in the case against Hamidullin, and so is not mentioned in articles about it. At his trial, Hamidullin stridently pronounced his commitment to fundamentalist Islam. Though I have no real reason to doubt his word, I’ve always wondered about his motivation and backstory. To what extent might he go to hide his true allegiance? And if he was sincere, how ironic is it that Russian agents were paying Taliban to do what dissidents from their own regime were already committed to doing?

Later, I used the attack as the basis of my short-story “Cy and Ali,” a video of which the Wrath-Bearing Tree was generous enough to recently post on their YouTube page:

2 thoughts on “Backstory”

  1. Peter:

    A very moving and effective rendition of Ceyx and Alcyone!

    I’ll be teaching Ovid’s Metamorphoses this fall and will steer my students toward this. (Since we’re all teaching online or remote, asking them to watch a link in Youtube will be fair enough.)


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