Former Soviet soldier, Bakhredtin Khakimov, who lives in Herat province, said after the withdrawal of the Soviets in 1989 he stayed on and has never returned to his country.
Khakimov, who now goes by the name of Sheikh Abdullah, said he was badly wounded in Shindand district of Herat province in 1980 and captured by the Herat Mujahideen.
Khakimov, who married an Afghan woman and has one daughter, said he loves Afghanistan more than his own country and loves the Afghan people.
According to him he arrived in the country as a 22-year-old soldier and worked for the former Soviet Union’s intelligence department. Three years after the invasion he was badly wounded and captured. Once he recovered, he converted to Islam and changed his name to Sheikh Abdullah.
“I was wounded in the head and collapsed. I don’t remember much about that time,” he said.
He said that his family in Russia have visited him on a number of occasions in Herat and asked him to return but he said his home is Afghanistan and he has no regrets about living here or about converting to Islam.
“Contact with my family was cut and I have no way of contacting them. But I don’t regret staying here,”Khakimov said.
Khakimov works for a Jihad memorial museum in Herat and is well-respected.
“He is a good man and has strong morals,”Khakimov’s mother in-law said.
Khakimov said that after he converted he studied Islam by reading Islamic books and now most of his relatives call him Sheikh Abdullah – which is out of respect.
Jamil Khakimov’s wife also says he is a kind and generous man.
“He is a good man and lives a good life,” said Jamil.
Twenty eight years ago the Soviet Army withdrew from Afghanistan but a number of former Soviet soldiers stayed behind.
Currently at least four former soldiers are known to still be in Herat province.