But? 26

The New York Times journalist David Rohde was captured and held by the Taliban for 7 months and 10 days, and finally escaped. He tells his story here.

An extract:

Over those months, I came to a simple realization. After seven years of reporting in the region, I did not fully understand how extreme many of the Taliban had become. Before the kidnapping, I viewed the organization as a form of “Al Qaeda lite,” a religiously motivated movement primarily focused on controlling Afghanistan.

Living side by side with the Haqqanis’ followers, I learned that the goal of the hard-line Taliban was far more ambitious. Contact with foreign militants in the tribal areas appeared to have deeply affected many young Taliban fighters. They wanted to create a fundamentalist Islamic emirate with Al Qaeda that spanned the Muslim world.

As Cliff May points out in a Townhall  article discussing Rohde’s story here, ‘Though groups such as the Taliban — as well Hezbollah and Hamas — may fight locally, their leaders have always thought globally, viewing their struggles as part of a broader War Against the West.’  We would add, ‘and against the whole of the non-Muslim world’.

Rohde goes on:

I had written about the ties between Pakistan’s intelligence services and the Taliban while covering the region for The New York Times. I knew Pakistan turned a blind eye to many of their activities. But I was astonished by what I encountered firsthand: a Taliban mini-state that flourished openly and with impunity.

The Taliban government that had supposedly been eliminated by the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan was alive and thriving.

All along the main roads in North and South Waziristan, Pakistani government outposts had been abandoned, replaced by Taliban checkpoints where young militants detained anyone lacking a Kalashnikov rifle and the right Taliban password. We heard explosions echo across North Waziristan as my guards and other Taliban fighters learned how to make roadside bombs that killed American and NATO troops.

And I found the tribal areas — widely perceived as impoverished and isolated — to have superior roads, electricity and infrastructure compared with what exists in much of Afghanistan.

As the months dragged on, I grew to detest our captors. I saw the Haqqanis as a criminal gang masquerading as a pious religious movement. They described themselves as the true followers of Islam but displayed an astounding capacity for dishonesty and greed.

Why did he not understand how extreme the Taliban ‘had become’ when millions of us who have never set foot in Afghanistan know how extreme they have always been?

That ‘but’ of his in the last sentence  gives the answer  – and may evoke sardonic laughter.

Remember, though, that this is a New York Times journalist we are talking about. There are many facts about the world we live in, well known to the rest of us, that must come as a surprise to NYT writers, editors, and loyal readers, if forcibly impressed on their consciousness at last by extraordinary circumstances.

Posted under Afghanistan, Commentary, Islam, jihad, Muslims, War by Jillian Becker on Friday, October 30, 2009

Tagged with , , , , , ,

This post has 26 comments.