An alleged suicide bomber.—File Photo
An alleged suicide bomber.—File Photo

KABUL: In a room full of would-be suicide bombers at a high security detention centre in the Afghan capital, an elderly cleric quietly reads out verses from the holy Quran, telling the young men the act of killing oneself is itself a crime in Islam.    

“You won't go to paradise. Killing yourself and killing others is forbidden in Islam,” he tells the men sitting on chairs arranged in rows in the brightly lit room, and points to pages in the holy book.

Some of them nod, others stare vacantly.

Afghanistan's National Directorate Security, long reviled for abuse and torture of detainees, says it is trying to draw the poison out of the young minds by teaching them the Quran, taking the men to mosques in Kabul to show people praying peacefully and proving their instigators were wrong.

Suicide attacks, unknown in Afghanistan until 2004, have become particularly worrying as newly minted government forces take control of security ahead of the withdrawal of most foreign combat troops in 2014. They account for the highest number of deaths of civilians and military forces after roadside bombings.

The attacks have prompted authorities to fortify government buildings and foreign offices with rows upon rows of blast walls to stop the bombers.

They are also to fight the brainwashing.

“We work with them psychologically, we show them movies and films of atrocities of the Taliban and we also take them to mosques to see thousands of worshippers,” said Lutfullah Mashal, chief spokesman of the NDS, which last week gave Reuters rare access to the prisoners under supervision.

“During our interviews with them, we found that most of them do not know what they are doing. They are told false stories about Afghanistan.”

Most of the men in the room, some with just the beginnings of a moustache, were Afghans but they had spent their lives in Pakistan. Several million Afghans have moved to Pakistan over decades of Afghan turmoil.

Some of the bombers said they been sent across to Afghanistan after being told Islam was in danger because of the foreign military presence and that women were being raped.

“As a Muslim I wanted to do my part and I agreed to do the mission,” said Abdul Wahab.

He said he made four unsuccessful attempts to detonate his explosive-laden car on foreign military convoys in northern Afghanistan before he was caught last month.

Promise of paradise

Wahab, 18, originally from Kunduz in the Afghan north, but who grew up in Pakistan's garrison city of Rawalpindi where he worked as a porter in a fruit market, said he was approached by a man identified as Sarfraz several months ago.

“I was told stories about Afghanistan, about atrocities by foreigners and the absence of Islamic practices,” Wahab said as two NDS agents sat nearby. He was given 15 days of training at a camp for Afghan refugees near the city of Peshawar on how to set off a car bomb.

“I was sent to Mazar-e-Sharif to target the foreigners and despite attempting four times, my car did not explode,” he said, speaking slowly in Pashto.

Last week, at least 20 Afghan civilians were killed when a pair of suicide bombers detonated explosives within minutes of each other in a crowded part of the southern city of Kandahar, in one of the bloodiest days in weeks.

On Saturday, four French soldiers were killed when a burqa-clad bomber detonated his explosives in a bazaar in the east.

Some of the boys recruited to carry out bombings were told no harm would come to them.

Zahedullah, 17, from eastern Kunar province said he fell in with Taliban fighters at a mosque and they pumped him up to become a suicide bomber to attack foreigners.

“The Taliban told me I won't be harmed, only the Americans would be killed and I would go to paradise,” he said.

“I don't want to go to paradise, I want to go home,” he said.

Not everyone has had a change of heart. Ahmad Zubair, 18, was caught two weeks ago with a suicide-bomb vest in the eastern city of Jalalabad, near the Pakistani border, where he planned to attack US soldiers.

“I wanted to blow them up. They have desecrated our holy book and made cartoons of our Prophet. As long as Americans are in Afghanistan, there will be suicide bombers,” he said quietly, before the NDS agents led him away.

Updated Jun 11, 2012 09:00am

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Comments (17) (Closed)


ali
Jun 12, 2012 06:35pm
the institutes are there.. all over pakistan .. in every city .. Preachin islam .. making people understand what Quran says .. Its our fault that we are not having time to go there.. if we see our problems, these types of attacks do share a major part, Quran forbades us from all of those things.. may it be suicide, corruption, riots, etc etc
Farooq
Jun 11, 2012 07:58pm
That's a really good idea, I think there could be a website/online radio devoted to this. Clarifying the message of Islam as well as the politicization of it, yet at the same time it would run into limitation since there are foreign interests in Afghanistan that are encroaching on the will of the Afghan people. Some recognition needs to be made that there are different vested interests at play there!
roadkashehzada
Jun 12, 2012 02:48pm
and who started this dominos effect in 70s?? why 4 million afghans came to pakistan??
ali
Jun 12, 2012 06:17pm
these are not the mullahs that are brain washing the people.. they are a spearate group of people who are using religious ideology as terrorism.
raza
Jun 11, 2012 02:21pm
Why not to have a channel dedicated to target these so called potential bombers on TV Radio and print media telling them the reality.But i guess the over riding factor in all this is Money being paid to them or their parents.
Joe in USA
Jun 13, 2012 01:07am
Please ask yourself two simple questions. (1) Who led suicide bombers to USA in 2001, killing 2900 innocent people in a single day? (2) Then, where did that leader live for more than 5 years, until he was finally found and killed one year ago? Never again. Never.
manish
Jun 12, 2012 01:20pm
I don’t want to go to paradise, I want to go home....... MULLAHS just read his plea...
Tariq
Jun 12, 2012 11:27am
Can you spell denial?
ali
Jun 12, 2012 06:26pm
its not that easy as it looks.. the boys are selected after through studies on their weak points, afterwards they are isolated from the worldly affairs.. but it it would help in one way or another to atleast few men here.
roadkashehzada
Jun 12, 2012 03:59pm
40 million afghans were here for dacades, nobody talks about their politicians who used pakistan as base camp and have multiple houses in posh areas of peshawar and islamabad. so these guys wud be few of those 40 million "guests" for 2-3 decades
Shah Deeldar
Jun 11, 2012 03:45pm
Our earth is our best paradise! Enjoy the precious life and let other people live their lives!
Yawar
Jun 11, 2012 04:03pm
"Most of the men in the room, some with just the beginnings of a moustache, were Afghans but they had spent their lives in Pakistan." It is a bitter pill to swallow but it seems like many Afghan suicide bombers are initially brainwashed in Pakistan. If we want a future with lesser bloodshed of innocent Pakistanis and Afghans then our madrassas need to gain and impart insights from the Afghan program to our youth between 12 and 25. Because that is the age where minds get moulded. But what is most important is that liberal minded muslims need to stay out of this. These programs should be prepared and conducted exclusively by individuals whose upbringing has been in similar circumstances as the youth they are teaching.
P1845
Jun 11, 2012 04:07pm
Point where one reaches to decide to kill oneself is deep rooted in belief of religion, afterlife, martyrdom, GOD and only GOD knows what else. Only thing that can change anything is a proper education early on in life. May GOD provide that first of all, before food and shelter.
miramshah
Jun 12, 2012 06:17pm
can you
Ahmed
Jun 12, 2012 06:54am
I think thats a brilliant Idea. If Mulla Radio can do it, our government can do it in a much more extensive manner. Unfortunately our establishment is in a reactive mode and has lost its ability to think creatively to tackle this menace.
usama
Jun 12, 2012 08:08am
i think this institute should work in the masses.Approaching the effected areas or the areas with people of this mind-set and should work on them
Sara Khan
Jun 12, 2012 09:36am
OK, we send suicide bombers to Afghanistan, another good propaganda article, can someone tell who send them to Pakistan? who should we blame for the unrest and bloodshed in Pakistan?? what a shame, this piece is published in a Pakistani newspaper.