KABUL — As a military commander, Maulavi Mahdi never captured territory or killed Americans in battle. Yet the Taliban considers the 33-year-old ethnic Hazara a godsend.
Last year, the militants made Mahdi a shadow district governor in his birthplace. Then they showcased a video of him on their website to glorify his credentials. On a recent trip to Kabul, he was housed in a large villa with a garden, which the Taliban typically reserves for its most senior leaders. Mahdi knows why.
“I am a bridge between the Taliban and the Hazara community,” he said.