For most young adults in the U.S., cell phones are a way of life. The pocket-sized devices contain all of their contacts both friends and business, their music playlists, dating apps, bank apps, etc. Virtually everything needed to properly conduct life is at their fingertips, and to them, it’s natural. They were handed one early in life and it became an extension of themselves exactly the way God intended. But this pertains to the U.S.
In a different part of the world where God has no jurisdiction, being at one with an assault rifle far exceeds the importance of playing Wordle on a cellphone. In Afghanistan, the Taliban have been doing more than just killing people for the past couple of decades. Now and then, they’d dash in and out for a very brief moment to procreate. And those little turban-tops have come of age.
As a family in Kabul was returning home after attending a wedding, all conversation stopped as they entered a Taliban checkpoint. They had done nothing wrong, but this doesn’t always count for much. It didn’t count for anything when one of the young guards shone his flashlight in the backseat and immediately followed it up with an air-shattering blast that left a bullet in the head of 25-year-old Zainab Abdullahi. Zainab had been sitting next to her older sister and her two young children.
The car had already been cleared by the other guard who was on duty but there appears to have been a deadly breakdown in communication between the two. Taliban officials apologized to the family for the mistake of the young guards and gave them roughly $6000 for their trouble.
They told the family that the guards had been arrested but it’s doubtful any harsh punishment was or ever will be doled out. These are their children. The guards at Taliban checkpoints, and the ones patrolling the streets, are all young adults who have never known any other way of life than war. They were handed rifles at the age of five, they’ve never attended school, and they can neither read nor write.
Everything they know about life has been deeply embedded in them by their Taliban parents, and as such, they’re more ruthless than any of their dear old dads could ever hope to be. What young boy doesn’t want to make his father proud?
Zainab’s death was but a minor infraction compared to what’s being dealt by thousands of young, out-of-control Taliban soldiers whose only skill-set is fighting. Similar to a cell phone in the U.S., their weapons have become extensions of themselves.
Five months following the collapse of Kabul, Taliban soldiers are still jammed in the back of pickup trucks waving their rifles around, and citizens remain terrified of the young punks.
Deputy director of the Asia Program at the U.S.-based Wilson Center, Michael Kugelman, put the situation in perspective by pointing out how these young Taliban troops have limited alternatives. “Too many fighters lack the education and training to join civilian life, and even those [sic] that do have the skills can’t find jobs, due to the economic crises.”
As guards, this new young breed of Taliban has conducted night raids on homes of people they’ve spotted at protests and arrested them. They’ve beaten journalists half to death, and they’ve pepper-sprayed and even fired upon women’s rights protestors.
A social activist and a prominent lecturer at the American University of Afghanistan, Obaidullah Baheer, is fearful that the Taliban are returning to their brutal tactics of days past. He’s absolutely correct. How can this not be the case? How could it not have been expected?
“We often-times expect the victim to be the first to sympathize with [sic[ pain and prevent it when in power, but often-times they end up pushing it one notch further,” he said. “The Taliban must realize that this Deep State behavior will further alienate the population in the long run.”
In short, “Get your kids under control.” If the Taliban don’t, one day another new faction will spring up to knock them out of power, and then another, and then another, and then… So goes the history of the entire Mid-East.