So a Baptist from Oklahoma Walks into a Mosque...

The U.S. military is placing American religious mentors throughout the Afghan National Army with the task of encouraging the troops to exaggerate their adherence to Islam -- an unusual effort that has led people like James Hill, a "baby-faced" 27-year-old from Oklahoma, to befriend a 51-year-old mullah who has never shaved, and do things like give soldiers prayer rugs to distribute in villages and set up loudspeakers on checkpoints so locals can hear soldiers being called to prayer.

The theory behind this plan is that if nearby villagers realize that their country's army is, in fact, Muslim, then they will be more likely to support it instead of Taliban insurgents, who regularly ride through isolated villages on motorcycles, "spreading the word that the Afghan army is led by godless communists working to urge the country of Islam."

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Jeffrey Goldberg is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and a recipient of the National Magazine Award for Reporting. He is the author of Prisoners: A Story of Friendship and Terror. More

Before joining The Atlantic in 2007, Goldberg was a Middle East correspondent, and the Washington correspondent, for The New Yorker. He was previouslly a correspondent for The New York Times Magazine and New York magazine. He has also written for the Jewish Daily Forward and was a columnist for The Jerusalem Post.

Goldberg's book Prisoners was hailed as one of the best books of 2006 by the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Slate, The Progressive, Washingtonian magazine, and Playboy. He received the 2003 National Magazine Award for Reporting for his coverage of Islamic terrorism and the 2005 Anti-Defamation League Daniel Pearl Prize. He is also the winner of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists prize for best international investigative journalist; the Overseas Press Club award for best human-rights reporting; and the Abraham Cahan Prize in Journalism.

In 2001, Goldberg was appointed the Syrkin Fellow in Letters of the Jerusalem Foundation, and in 2002 he became a public-policy scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C.

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