As a helicopter pilot for the Afghan Army, Major Abdul Rahman Rahmani has one of the most dangerous jobs in Afghanistan.
His Special Mission Wing, believed to be one of the best in South Asia, is often involved in dangerous nighttime assaults on Taliban positions in the vast mountainous country where the insurgents control large swathes of the countryside.
The media-shy pilot, however, recently attracted attention with an emotional letter to the widow of an American mentor. Major Brent Taylor of the Utah National Guard was killed in an apparent insider attack in Kabul on November 3.
The term insider attack, also called a green-on-blue attack, refers to a shootout incident when Afghan soldiers fire on international troops with whom they are working. The Taliban typically claim credit for such attacks.
“I wanted to send the terrorists a message: As much as you try to create a wedge between the Afghan and international forces, we are going to remain united and fight against you with everything we have got,” he told RFE/RL’s Gandhara website of his motivations in writing the letter.
“I also wanted to send a humane message to Taylor’s widow from the country where he lost his life,” he said.
The November 5 letter, now pinned to Rahmani’s Twitter profile, tells Jennie Taylor that her late husband was an “inspiring man” who taught him how to treasure his family. “I gained a great deal of knowledge from him and I am a better person for having met him,” he wrote.
Rahmani says he was twice injured in combat and lost eight relatives including his father, three uncles, and two cousins during the various cycles of war in Afghanistan over the past four decades.
“However, I will continue to still fight this ‘good fight’ in the words of your respectful husband,” he wrote, emphasizing that winning the war in Afghanistan is important to prevent international terrorists from launching attacks like those of 9/11 in the United States 17 years ago.
Rahmani told Jennie the insider attack that killed her husband was not representative of Afghans. “We pledge to continue to work hard until the end, the day when peace will return to our country and violence and hatred no longer claim the lives of both of our countrymen,” he wrote.
Brent’s brother-in-law, Jared Pack, shared Rahmani’s letter with Jennie. He told BuzzFeed that the letter is like gold to the family. "It gives so much context as to why he had gone to Afghanistan," he said.
The Afghan forces have endured mounting casualties and lost rural territories to the resurgent Taliban since the departure of most U.S. NATO troops from the country in 2014. Since then remaining international troops have adopted a supportive role and Afghan casualties have multiplied.
Rahmani, however, sees the Afghan forces as able to prevent the Taliban from taking over major cities. He says that with sustained international support they can defeat the insurgents.
“We have a lot of experience over [the] past 17 years. Especially our special forces are proving that they are better in fighting close combat with our enemies,” he said.