Having been in Herat for several months and with the end of my tour on the horizon, I knew I wanted to visit the Jihad Museum. I had previously invited my friend Colonel Mohammed of the Counter Narcotics Police Afghanistan (CNP-A) to my camp for lunch and introduce him to the Narcotics Interdiction Unit Commander.
After lunch, we went into town to visit the Citadel (already posted on this blog). From there, we went to the Jihad Museum. Once again off we went with me as the only infidel, yet I felt completely comfortable with the Afghans. Looking Afghan helped but my M4 gave me away, not to mention the large security detail for the Colonel and the detail for the NIU commander and me.
When we arrived at the museum it was closed. Having a powerful Colonel helped to open the doors and get a private guided tour for us. I know the Afghans in our group were as excited to visit the museum as I was. They had never seen it before, even the guys from Herat. A former Mujahedeen fighter served as our tour guide. He explained the many battles with the Soviets as well as the weapons displays.
Fascinating parts of the museum were the dioramas. As the local population is mostly illiterate, written descriptions would be useless. So the museum utilizes many different lifelike dioramas depicting major battles to relate the history. Our Guide explained the battles to us in great detail. This museum is certainly a world class war museum. (Links below)
A bonus highlight of the visit was meeting the infamous Bakhretdin Khakimov, now known as Sheik Abdullah. Khakimov first came to Afghanistan as a Soviet intelligence officer and his mission was to kill the mujahedeen. He was wounded in battle, went missing, and ultimately was nursed back to health by an Afghan family. After recovering, he decided to remain in Afghanistan and converted to Islam. Abdullah now works at the museum. (See links below.)