The Atlantic

Caught in the Crosshairs: Was He a Farmer or Taliban?

Maybe the wounded man was an innocent farmer. Maybe not. For the American soldiers, determining the truth seemed nearly impossible.

ARGHANDAB VALLEY, AFGHANISTAN -- The gray-bearded man pushed his wheelbarrow through the field, past the coils of concertina wire and toward the American combat outpost that was home to a platoon of 82nd Airborne paratroopers. In the wheelbarrow lay a man he claimed was his brother, the lower half of his white kamees stained bright red. Blood seeped from a golf ball-sized hole in his leg.

Four Afghan National Policemen walked toward the gate to investigate. One of them spoke to the two men, then

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from The Atlantic

The Atlantic6 min readWellness
Measles Can Be Contained. Anti-Semitism Cannot.
Just as the anti-vaccination movement feeds off a handful of fringe outsiders, long-standing stereotypes about Jews have found a new vector in the latest outbreak of the disease.
The Atlantic6 min read
How Game of Thrones Lost Its Way as a Political Drama
In its later seasons, the show started relying on heavy-handed historical references to do the difficult work of character-building.
The Atlantic4 min read
Why Good Girls Is Such a Rewarding Show
The series, which wraps its second season on Sunday, has blossomed into a uniquely flavored, daring drama of the sort found more frequently on cable.