Toby Harnden Shares a Story From on the Ground in Afghanistan


You mentioned this story, the prison uprising, Mike spann, a former marine CIA paramilitary. For those who know nothing, give us the story of that incredible event and what that man did. Yeah. It is incredible. And so November 25th, 2001. Two CIA officers walk into this fort called calla jangi, which means literally like fort of war outside mazar I Sharif. Now, backing up a little bit mazarin Sharif had fallen to northern alliance forces, aided by our allies. Our allies aided by the CIA green berets and air force combat controllers and the awesome might have U.S. air power overhead on November 10th. Now, less than a month earlier, Mike spann had been one of 8 CIA officers who landed in the Darius souf valley, aboard two Black Hawk helicopters that had flown in from Kashi Khan about K two, a former Soviet air base that Uzbekistan government had given over to the Americans for this post 9 11 mission. So October 17th, 2001, they land at dropped into the unknown. First Americans behind America. So we are barely barely a month out since 9 11. Yeah. First Americans behind them enemy lines. Now there had been a CIA team called jawbreaker that had landed in the pantry of Ali on September 26th, but that was, you know, relatively speaking safe territory controlled by the northern alliance. But this was enemy territory, Taliban controlled territory. So 8 of them, four of them were paramilitaries, one of those was Mike span. So when paramilitary is somebody who's been seconded, usually from the military and is working in the CIA using their skills for the CIA. Yeah, usually they actually in the CIA sometimes their contractors or people who've been seconded and on some of the other teams that were actually serving members of the Delta force and seals. But the four paramount trees on team alpha were serving CIOs special activities, division. Scott spellman, who was on the cover of the book, he was later became very senior, it was the senior CIA guy on the National Security Council during the Trump administration. He became station chief in Kabul, but then a young officer, but already battle hardened he had been wounded in the battle of Mogadishu in Somalia in 1993. It was a guy called Alex Hernandez, who was the deputy chief, who was a sergeant major, gone full career in special forces and then joined the agency and two case officers, JRC, who was the chief who'd worked with the CIA out of Islamabad in the 1980s against the Soviets for the supply and stinger missiles to the mujahideen and David Tyson who you mentioned at the beginning who was with Mike span on November 25th 2001. So they're in unfriendly territory. This is the Ford of war, walk us through that event. So David was a case officer based in Tashkent and spoke Uzbek almost fluently. And so he's the linguist and the main linguist on the team, although JR, seger also he spoke diary, which was the sort of lingua franca in Afghanistan. But on that day, the team split, there's a big fight, a hundred miles to the east. It expected in Kunduz so the bulk of American forces are there. But the night before 400 Al-Qaeda prisoners had arrived on the eastern edge of mazarin reef to surrender, and it was extremely murky why they were there. They should have been surrendering in Kunduz. And basically, I mean, what I was able to establish almost beyond doubt is that this was a Trojan horse operation. It was a deliberate trap. Yeah, it was a Taliban Al-Qaeda operation to put pretend that for these 400 fighters had surrendered, but in fact they were made up remained armed. They sort of exploited Afghan custom to keep their weapons with them and they were planning an uprising. Because you can have lots of people surrender at once if it's a regular army during the Gulf War, we had thousands of Iraqis surrender at once. When it's irregular fighters, you don't usually get hundreds of them surrendering at the same time. It's a little bit

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