His Afghan Boast : Five Soviet copters shot down with a single rocket
According to Laskar Jihad folklore, Jaffar Umar Thalib once shot down five Soviet helicopters when he was fighting alongside the Afghan mujahideen in the late 80s.
He did it in the Lowgar valley, south of Kabul, with a single rocket-propelled grenade.
He told the NYT magazine: ‘With the help of God, I got one of the helicopters from quite close range, and it exploded.
‘At the same time, the other four tried to escape and in their panic crashed into each other. All of them – destroyed!’
The two years he spent in Afghanistan are very close to Jaffar’s heart. It was a ‘liberation’ after having spent his life before in the suffocating environs of various Islamic schools in Indonesia, the magazine said.
Born in East Java in 1961, he was the seventh of eight children. His father Umar Thalib was a veteran of Indonesia’s
independence war who later ran a pesantren or religious boarding school with the same martial ferocity, beating religious education into his son with a rattan stick.
‘Learning Arabic from my father was like learning boxing,’ he said.