British pilot led US-backed private army to hunt Taliban


Lieutenant Commander Howard Leedham, a former Royal Navy pilot, led a 25-strong force of specially-recruited Pakistani soldiers raiding Taliban camps, hunting down kidnap victims and detaining suspected al Qaeda militants, according to a report in The Telegraph.
Eight years after leaving the country, Lt Cdr Leeham has broken his silence to describe a programme he believed offered a model for securing Pakistan’s porous borders against the militant threat.
Leedham said that under a one-year contract, he was granted use of an American fleet of seven helicopters and two fixed-wing planes to conduct anti-terrorist operations in support of local troops from a base in Quetta, capital of Balochistan.
But he had to persuade a Pakistani general to allow him to recruit a handful of local Pathan soldiers.
“For a moment in time there was a group of Pathans, there were some Pakistani military officers, there were American mechanics, there was me,” he said, referring to the tough mountain tribesmen of north-western Pakistan.
“Did we break a few rules on the way? Yes. But if we didn’t, the people who would have got the advantage were the bad guys,” he told the paper.