Taliban Honor Suicide Bombers’ ‘Sacrifices’ in Bid to Rewrite Historical past

Hussain had simply arrived at his workplace in Afghanistan’s capital when the world appeared to blow up round him. It was the morning of Could 31, 2017, and a truck bomb had simply detonated, boring a crater within the earth, killing more than 150 people, most of them civilians, and releasing a shock wave that shattered glass throughout the town.

Hussain suffered head and leg wounds within the blast, one of many largest in 20 years of battle, and was in fixed anguish throughout months of surgical procedure.

The still-lingering ache was made extra acute this previous week when Hussain watched the brand new appearing minister of inside — Sirajuddin Haqqani, the chief of the very group accused of finishing up the assault — honoring the individuals who had consigned him to a lifetime of agony: the Taliban’s ranks of suicide bombers.

“As a substitute of asking for forgiveness, they’re commemorating the suicide bombers,” stated Hussain, who requested to be recognized by first title solely out of worry of retribution from the Taliban. “And I’ll by no means forgive.”

On Tuesday, the Taliban authorities introduced collectively households of suicide bombers on the Intercontinental Lodge in Kabul, praising the deaths of their kids and siblings within the struggle in opposition to the U.S.-backed coalition and Afghan authorities, and giving them condolence funds and a promise of land.

The brand new authorities’s choice to so publicly memorialize its suicide bomb squads gave the impression to be each an effort to appease the aggrieved households for the motion’s use of their family members as weapons and an overt try and rewrite the historical past of the battle by championing the bombers’ deaths as the very best degree of sacrifice. In brief, it sought to professionalize the function of suicide bomber.

“Their sacrifices are for faith, for the nation and for Islam,” Mr. Haqqani advised the gang within the gilded ballroom of the identical hilltop lodge attacked by the Taliban in 2011 and 2018.

Because the Taliban authorities seeks worldwide recognition after its countrywide takeover this summer season, broadcasting an occasion that honors a tactic lengthy seen as terrorism would appear to do little to assist. The Taliban have claimed that suicide assaults had been in opposition to navy targets solely, however civilians had been usually killed and wounded by them.

And whereas the occasion delivered a message to the Taliban’s supporters, it was sure to alienate elements of the Afghan inhabitants grappling with the group’s return — particularly the households of the victims. After greater than 40 years of battle, the ceremony was yet one more painful reminder for a inhabitants already traumatized by a slew of armed actors, together with the Soviet Military and the U.S.-led Western coalition that invaded in 2001.

“The suicide assault by itself is a shameful, cowardly and inhuman act. And justifying such a horrific motion to show your self legit can be definitely shameful,” stated Yaser Qobadiyan, whose sister was killed by the Islamic State in a suicide assault in Kabul in 2018 and whose father died in a 2006 automotive bombing presumed to have been carried out by the Taliban.

“The Taliban ought to give land and cash as compensation for the households of the victims of their suicide assaults,” he added.

The general public show additionally raised questions of how the Taliban will keep in mind the tens of 1000’s of troopers killed and wounded whereas serving within the earlier authorities’s navy, and the way — or if — their members of the family might be compensated. This leaves the newly appointed minister of martyrs and disabled affairs, Abdul Majeed Akhund, in a dangerous place, having to reckon with two variations of the battle and the which means of sacrifice for many who participated on either side.

Killing others by means of one’s personal self destruction has been a instrument of battle for hundreds of years, however in accordance with the United Nations the primary suicide assault believed to be carried out in Afghanistan didn’t happen till Sept. 9, 2001. That’s when overseas operatives of Al Qaeda assassinated Ahmad Shah Massoud, the chief of the Northern Alliance group preventing the Taliban.

The Taliban’s eventual use of frequent suicide assaults, consultants say, was probably related to a 2003 video by Osama bin Laden through which he known as for “martyrdom” operations in opposition to the enemy. Within the years after the video’s launch, the variety of suicide assaults in Afghanistan started to climb, first in a trickle. However by 2006, the quantity had risen to greater than 100, and it by no means abated.

By the top of the battle, the Taliban’s use of suicide assaults had advanced from a instrument of terror to an integral navy tactic, used to grab territory and win battles. Those that carried out the assaults wore slick uniforms and had been championed as elite in sure items.

“Folks advised us that preventing with People was like preventing with the mountains,” Mr. Haqqani stated in his speech this previous week. “Allah almighty promised us that at some point you guys might be profitable, and our groups had been discussing with one another, that we’ve got to search out suicide bombers to struggle in opposition to People. In any other case it’s not possible to struggle in opposition to them.”

The Taliban have stated suicide bombings had been their reply to the West’s extra highly effective navy know-how and equated the selection of self-destruction to the final word type of resistance.

When Kabul fell in August and the Western-backed authorities fled, the Taliban’s suicide bombers had been able to assault. If the capital had not fallen as simply because it did, the group was ready to flood the town with truck bombs.

“The Taliban is attempting to institutionalize sacrifice in a means that’s by no means been carried out earlier than in Afghanistan,” stated David Edwards, a professor of anthropology at Williams School who wrote “Caravan of Martyrs,” a e-book concerning the Taliban and suicide bombing. “That is an act of rewriting historical past, displaying suicide bombers not as disaffected youth, however taking that story and rewriting it as an elite cadre who used their our bodies in opposition to the technological superiority of the west.”

Watching this week because the households of those that carried out these assaults had been compensated, Karam Khan, a former police officer, puzzled if his two brothers killed preventing the Taliban would obtain the identical sort of remedy.

“This type of propaganda adjustments unusual folks’s perceptions of those that labored or sacrificed their lives for the republic,” Mr. Khan stated. “The Taliban look towards us as their enemies.”

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/10/23/world/asia/afghanistan-taliban-suicide-bombers.html | Taliban Honor Suicide Bombers’ ‘Sacrifices’ in Bid to Rewrite Historical past


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