Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Taliban in Their Own Words

afghanistan, taliban, war,
Newsweek's oral history of the Taliban is a fascinating read, interweaving short stories from several Afghanis discussing how they ended up joining the Taliban and fighting us. They were not the stories I expected them to be. Were the circumstances reversed, I wonder how many of us would be mujahadeen.

Two days before the September 11 attacks on America, we were all celebrating the death of [Northern Alliance commanderAhmed Shah] Masood, [who was assassinated by Qaeda agents posing as television reporters]. His forces were already on the verge of defeat, so his death all but assured us of total victory in Afghanistan. But the September 11 attacks turned our cheer into deep concern. We gave those camels [a derogatory Afghan term for Arabs] free run of our country, and they brought us face to face with disaster. We knew the Americans would attack us in revenge.

Realizing the danger, I immediately sent my wife and children to Pakistan. The entire government started to fall apart. I never thought the Taliban would collapse so quickly and cruelly under U.S. bombs. Everyone began trying to save themselves and their families. When the bombing began, I changed out of my usual white mullah's garb, put on an old brown shalwar kameez, and headed for Pakistan. I crossed the mountains on foot, and at the top I turned around and said: "God bless you, Afghanistan. I'll never come back to you under our Islamic regime."

Just a note: we might consider everyone from a vast area in Eurasia to be Arab, but Afghanis do not consider themselves to be Arabs, and neither do Iranians, for that matter.


  1. What? I thought brown = arab (unless there's a dot on the forehead). You're telling me I've got to be aware of world cultures and regional nomenclature now? What do you think I am; some sort of liberal?

  2. Which is exactly what McCain said after he accused Iran of helping al Queda. There was so much wrong with that, I wouldn't even know where to begin.

  3. Who considers Persians and the various Afghan tribes to be Arabs?

    The 9/11 Commission found connections between Iran & Al Qaeda. McCain was correct. Iran has extensive ties with various terror organizations. It doesn't have to be allied with a particular group in order to have certain connections or make use of it for its own purposes.

    Here's a brief mention in TIME coauthored by Joe Klein of all people -- not exactly a right-winger.

    Iran had a history of allowing al-Qaeda members to enter and exit Iran across the Afghan border. This practice dated back to October 2000, with Iranian officials issuing specific instructions to their border guards—in some cases not to put stamps in the passports of al-Qaeda personnel—and otherwise not harass them and to facilitate their travel across the frontier.

    That sounds like help to me.

  4. UNRR - my mother, for one. In her mind, Muslim=Arab=Doesn't want Israel to exist.

  5. Everyone I work with. I tried to explain to someone that Iranians are ethnically Persian, which isn't Arab at all, and they actually said, "they're muslim, right? muslims are arabs."

    Whether or not Iran "helped" al Queda, and I've heard this both ways, you can't bust out with "Iran's a bunch of al Queda lovers!" in public because of how fundamentalist Sunni feel about Shi'a and vice versa. To put it lightly, it's a bit rude.

    But McCain was never known for subtlety, was he?

  6. Well, I know this comes off as elitist, but I given our miserable public education in things like history & geography, I don't expect the general public to know much about Afghanistan or Iran, or about Islam in general. But I meant people actually commentating on the region. I think (hope) most of them know that Iran is primarily Persian not Arab.

    " can't bust out with "Iran's a bunch of al Queda lovers!" in public because of how fundamentalist Sunni feel about Shi'a and vice versa."

    True. I think that would be going way too far. But states often have ties/connections/dealings with other states & groups which they oppose. Sometimes their particular goals & interests mesh on a certain point or at a certain time, even though they are fundamentally at odds on many other things.

    "But McCain was never known for subtlety, was he?"

    No, he's not exactly Mr. Diplomatic.


Comments are for you guys, not for me. Say what you will. Don't feel compelled to stay on topic, I enjoy it when comments enter Tangentville or veer off into Non Sequitur Town. Just keep it polite, okay?

I am attempting to use blogger's new comment spam feature. If you don't immediately see your comment, it is being held in spam, I will get it out next time I check the filter. Unless you are Dennis Markuze, in which case you're never seeing your comment.

Creative Commons License
Forever in Hell by Personal Failure is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at foreverinhell.blogspot.com.