The New York Times magazine has an amazing article, Naji’s Taliban Phase, about two fighters on opposite sides who corresponded during the civil war in Afghanistan. An excerpt:

Until Ali’s letters began arriving, Naji says, he believed that the Northern Alliance forces were composed primarily of non-Islamic, non-Afghan fighters. This idea, Naji says, was often repeated by the Taliban leadership. Ali’s letters refuted it, and Naji became curious. He began to question a lot of what he’d been taught. In Taloqan, which was once the Northern Alliance capital, he spoke with civilians passing through his roadblock. ”Everyone told me the same thing,” Naji says. ”They told me that all of the Northern Alliance fighters were Afghans.”

Naji also had a troubling sense that, as a Tajik in a Pashtun-controlled army, he was never afforded more than second-class status. ”This is why I spent so many days on the front lines,” he says. ”This is why I was never made an officer.” He felt somehow expendable; he worried that a Taliban victory might eventually exclude him. He discussed these ideas in his letters to Ali. They also corresponded about ”the culture of Islam,” as Naji puts it. ”Ali wrote that a Muslim can have a long beard or a short one, can go to mosque or not, can wear a burka or not, and still be a good Muslim. I was very nervous to write this, but I said I agreed with him.”