Oberon High School
Successful Afghani journalist, Khaled Agni, writes about his past experiences being a member of The Taliban.
I place my forehead upon the rough carpet floor. The coarse texture and thick smell reminds me of Afghan incense.Please Allah, I whisper, forgive me for my unholy sins. The mutters of prayers surrounding me seem so familiar.Forgive my former comrades also; they are blinded to your true teachings. I hum a verse I memorized from The Koran.
When the dead are thrown out from their graves and men’s hidden thoughts are laid open, their Lord will have full knowledge of them all.
I open my eyes to see an ocean of white turbans bobbing up and down in prayer. I stand and turn to leave the mosque.
Please, Please forgive me, I mutter.
My ‘Former comrades’ that I asked Allah to redeem, are the notorious Taliban or ‘freedom fighters’, as they affectionately called themselves. Founded by a friend of the international terrorist Osama bin Laden, Muhammad Omar brought order in a corrupt and war-strewn country though very strict interpretation of Shari’a, or Islamic law.
Back then in the late 70s, many Afghanis, including myself, grew weary of the Soviet Occupation and were relieved to see the corrupt and brutal warlords being replaced by the seemingly devout Taliban, which succeeded in restoring some peace. People flooded in the streets, singing and dancing. Their wishes had come true! A few years before the arrival of the Taliban and the Russian retreat, my old neighbour, Amir Jan said to me:
‘When the day comes where there are no sounds of bombs and screaming, I will dance around the Pomegranate tree!’
In gratitude of the Taliban’s courageous patriotic actions, I joined their religious cult. But never did I realise that the extent to which they applied our sacred laws was too extreme. Obscure and numerous regulations were placed upon our main city, Kabul, which intended to retain the laws and teachings of The Koran, our holy Bible. Most of these rules were directed at females in order to preserve women and their honour and to create ‘secure environments where the chasteness and dignity of women may once again be sacred.’ Some of the rules Muhammad Omar formed were that:
- ‘Women should not appear in the streets without a blood relative and without wearing a Burqa.’
- ‘Women must not speak loudly in public.’ And;
- ‘Women are forbidden to appear on the balconies of their apartments and houses.’
These constricting and stringent rules, which I had helped to maintain, caused many women to live a life in hell and constant fear. They were rules of the Taliban’s religion, Sunni Muslim, and we forced people to obey, despite their beliefs.
For the more extreme offences, public executions were the result. Adultery was the most common among them, and stoning the adulterer often took place at crowded sport stadiums. The first execution I ever took part of was in Kabul at the half time of a soccer match, and the words of my Official have never left my memory.
‘We are here today to carry out Shari’a. We are here today to carry out justice. We are here today because the will of Allah and the word of the Prophet Muhammad, are alive and well here in our beloved homeland. We listen to what god says. And what does God say? God says that every sinner must be punished in a manner befitting his sins. Those are the words of GOD! How shall we answer to those who throw stones at the windows of God’s house? WE SHALL THROW THE STONES BACK!’ And he threw the first stone at this screaming woman.
She merely reacted by continuing to scream and plead. A stone was passed to me and I aimed at her face and threw. A dark pool of blood spread across her blue Burqa. I believed that I had helped us attained religious justice. We were helping God punish the offenders.
In truth, The Koran states that ‘If any women commit fornication outside the sanctity of marriage, call in four witnesses from among you against the adulterer; if they testify to their guilt, confine them to their houses until death overtakes them or until God finds another way for them.’
And so we were really taking justice out of God’s hands.
After being part of the Taliban’s regime over Kabul for more than ten years, I realised how corrupt and manipulative the Officials were. Over time, more rules were administered, more violence came about and in their rule, conditions such as access to food, clean water, and employment actually declined. They no longer acted to gain religious justice in the name of Allah, their ‘religious justice’ became a way to attain more unnecessary power among their own peope.
Their stonings, raping of children, flogging of women for wearing high heels and massacaring Hazaras was not for their God, Allah, it was for themselves. Being a very low member of the Taliban, I was never included in the severe punishments, except my first execution, and I was immune to the power which the Officials attained.
One particular man whom I used to admire greatly, but also showed this egotism, was my old comrade Assef. He once told me why he joined the Taliban:
‘I’m not a very religious man, but once I had an epiphany in jail. Anyway, every night the commandant would have one of the prisioners dragged out of the cell and he’d beat them. One night, he picked me. It couldn’t have come at a worse time. I had kidney stones, the worst imaginable pain. He started kicking me and I was screaming and screaming when suddenly, he kicked my left kidney and the stone passed. Oh, the relief! He kicked me even harder and I started laughing. He got mad and hit me harder, and the harder he kicked me, the harder I laughed. I kept laughing because suddenly I knew that had been a message from god: He was on my side. He wanted me to live for a reason.’
I didn’t have to inquire about it to know that his reason was to kill.
Not all of the Taliban memebers I remember were egotistical, power thriving Islamic radicals. Like me, some of my comrades who discovered the true violations of Allah fled to other countires and escaped the Taliban’s ominous regime. Most of us ended up in America, where I currently reside.
I decided to leave my once beloved country, now stricken and thin with war when I realised what the true sin was. We were all Sunni Muslims, but did the people we beat and killed believe in the same religion? Did they all have to lead a life with the rules that Allah imposed. The Koran says that Allah’s followers should say to those that do not believe:
‘I do not worship what you worship, nor do you worship what I worship. You have y our own religion, and I have mine.’
But we were forcing our religion upon everybody and playing God.
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
In their reign, The Taliban created hell on earth.
On the first day, the spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters and God said:
‘Let there be light.’ And there was light.
On the first day, the leader of the Taliban moved upon the lives of their people and Muhammad Omar said,
‘Let there be justice.’ And there was their justice.
Naomi Wells’s nickname is Namoi. She wants to spend her life creating art, cooking meals from all over the world, in all different countries, and studying the world and its creatures. Her main aim in life is to leave a positive environmental impact, helping out the earth that allows us to be so.