The former commander of British troops in Helmand province, who is now Halo’s chief executive, James Cowan, told the Daily Mail in an interview that although he had lost 64 of his soldiers to the Taliban, he felt they now shared a “common sense of purpose” and were “honourable” men.
The Halo Trust employs about 350 former Taliban insurgents and each earns £230 ($300) a month.
Cowan, meanwhile, has called on the UK government to pay for thousands more former Taliban fighters to clear landmines as such opportunities provide jobs.
According to the Daily Mail, Cowan is backed by former foreign secretary Sir Malcolm Rifkind, who said the UK has the potential to “bring thousands of former combatants into civilian life”.
Meanwhile, one Halo employee, Farid, who has worked for Halo for 30 years, said the charity currently employs around 2,300 de-miners.
He said of those about 350 fought either with the Taliban or with an affiliated group. He also said that so far, Halo has destroyed about 850,000 mines.
Farid also stated he “never felt any insecurity” working with the ex-insurgents because they went through strict vetting procedures. Only one of those employed by Halo had returned to the conflict after his training, he said adding that “fighting is not driven by ideology, it is driven by poverty”.
According to him the former insurgents were good workers and “know the landscape and the geography and we use them to clear their own communities.”