Posted by: Christian | May 6, 2008

Militancy and Afghan Students

While American universities are generally the scene of complacency and disinterest, universities elsewhere are still filled with a decent number of radicals. Is Kabul University one of them? CSM reports:

On the sprawling, serene campus of Kabul University, where the nation sends many of its best and brightest, the Taliban has reached an unprecedented level of influence, students say.

Young men gather in campus dorm rooms and watch slickly produced DVDs of the latest insurgent attacks. One video shows Taliban fighters firing rocket launchers and shrieking, “God is the greatest!” as orange fireballs reach their targets, presumably Coalition forces, in the distance. The attacks are set to religious music, backed by a staccato drumbeat meant to impassion and inspire viewers.

“Many of us have contact with Taliban leadership,” says one student and Taliban member, who asked to be called Naqibullah. “I talk to commanders based in the south maybe once a week on the phone.” Naqibullah and others like him disseminate Taliban propaganda throughout the university, hoping especially to reach students from various parts of the country.

Maybe young Naqib is full of sh*t. Or he could be the real thing.

Naqibullah suggests that places like Kabul University might be a fertile recruiting ground for operations in the capital and in northern areas of the country. “There are many students waiting to launch suicide attacks,” he says. “One student launched a suicide attack in Bagram,” an American base north of the capital.

“I, too, would like to become a suicide bomber,” Naqibullah continues. “But educated Taliban like me are needed to teach the uneducated ones.” Instead, the young man is training to become a doctor so he can eventually treat the war wounds of Taliban fighters.

How valiant of Naqib.

I generally have a good laugh at campus radicals because they are usually posers who never go on to accomplish anything. Except when they realize how lame they are and then apply to law school and then go into private practice and makes some good money (basically the plot of SLC Punk).

Anti-Bush and Anti-Almirt [Olmert] demonstration by KU students:

But students in Afghanistan are not all posers. Both Ahmad Shah Massoud and Gulbuddin Hekmatyar were in Kabul University’s engineering department. And more than a few Hizbis were recruited on campus. The old days at KU can be described as Marxists versus Islamists, with the majority of students just wanting to complete their education. But the extreme ends of the political spectrum at KU both produced many foot-soldiers and leaders.

And how about Kabul University in the post-2001 era? I’ve heard several anecdotes of intimidation by Islamists (usually identified problematically as “conservatives”) and of indoctrination by Islamist professors. But I’ve also heard that American universities are run by America-hating Marxists professors who are brain-washing their students. That is, of course, pretty stupid. It’s easy to find a few horror stories when you are drawing from 4182 universities and colleges. So I carry my skepticism over to the Kabul University anecdotes. I’m sure there are some grumpy old “conservatives” teaching there in certain faculties and I’m sure that there are students who get off on watching jihadi snuff videos from Pakistan. But I don’t think KU will be the epicenter of anything beyond the standard college student narcissism and delusions of grandeur. The number of recruits that KU could provide is sure to be minuscule. I’m sure most students are more concerned with studying or socializing, just like American students.

Or maybe I’m wrong and the next generation of Hekmatyars will emerge from KU.

A serene corner of the KU campus, pic by ZaraAt:


  1. I agree with you for the most part GOA. Most of these radical students are simply blowing off frustrations. That is okay to a point. The Afghan government is not at a stage though where they can totally ignore this as simply the excesses of a free society. What to do? That is a delicate balance for sure. But at this point the new Afghan government needs to keep these forces in check.

  2. They aren’t just “blowing off frustrations”. The situation is escalating. Come and take a look for yourself. The Taliban never really left


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