The Future of Terrorism

Of course there are stacks of evidence for the Taliban’s stance on administration, education, and women’s rights, but the primary concern of Western citizens is typically a question of terrorism.  For this, there is no evidence – only estimation.  It would not seem likely that systemic support of inter-regional terrorism would ever be hoisted out of the wreckage of Afghanistan in the foreseeable future.  While Pakistan may enjoy the strategic depth of a firm alliance with Afghanistan, and potentially utilize it to train jihadists for attacks against India, it is unlikely that terrorism, as the West understands it, will arrive on European and American doorsteps with a postmark from Afghanistan.  After the first attack against a Western nation believed to be staged out of Afghanistan resulted in over a decade of war, billions in bombings, and an incalculable human cost, it is difficult to surmise that such an event would ever occur again.  Should the brand-name of Al Qaeda return with heavy consolidation in Afghanistan, it would only draw drone strikes as seen in Pakistan and Yemen.  It would be much more probable to foresee a tacit alliance with the Pakistan Inter-Services Intelligence agency (ISI), and a hospitable welcome for Tehrik-e Taliban as the tangible limits of international terrorism.  As for the miscellaneous terror organizations that once trained in Afghanistan’s camps, the west would do well to remember that the Filipino terrorist organization is named Abu Sayyaaf, or Sons of Sayyaf, in honor of Professor Rasul Sayyaf: the man who first invited Osama bin Laden to Afghanistan from Sudan.[85]  He is the man who mentored Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the planner of the 9/11 terror attack.[86]  He is a former Northern Alliance commander whose specific faction is named in Human Rights Watch for rape and pillaging of Hazara neighborhoods in Kabul.[87]  But more than the carnage he has orchestrated, Rasul Sayyaf is also the senior Member of Parliament in the NATO-backed Karzai administration.  Afghanistan is not currently any less of a terrorist hotbed with Al Qaeda operating within its borders, radicals in power, education in shambles, economy in foreign-destitution and women’s rights in remission.  The only difference now, is the central government is funded by Western nations rather than Gulf States.

Bridging the Gap

Afghanistan could be a nation that would be recognizable to all Afghans, not just exiles. It could be an Afghanistan that exists independently – beyond the welfare of the international community and embody the independent spirit of the tribesmen that live there.  As men like Haji Zahir succumb to old age, Afghanistan will lose not just the men that defeated the Soviets, but the last men to have laid eyes on their country not at war.  These are the last men to work and raise a family without the daily sounds of explosions or gunfire.  They are the men that understand the depths of tribal community and the wisdom of governance.  And as their tempered last breaths dissipate in the arid mountain air, so will the collective experience of centuries of tribal governance.

The men left to hoist the withered bodies wrapped in white sheets and parade them on their shoulders through the dusty village roads to the hard scrabble graveyards are the generation that was born into war and has lived in it ever since.  These are the boys raised in refugee camps and reared in tribes fractured by political parties, wrecked in civil wars, and relegated to novelty under the Karzai administration.  These are the boys that found order in the madrassas and grew into the Taliban. However, as the insurgency forced the Taliban to abandon their dominant positions, and gray begins to pepper their beards, they have resurfaced working through the tribes.  Finding the function of the old way, but interpreted in an effective way.  No longer are they a function to forcibly control the population, but reliant on them for support – a support that is won through outreach, diplomacy, and governance.

Afghanistan stands on the cusp of a decision.  They can bury the elders and ignore their ways as the Karzai government spirals deeper into corruption, or they can move forward while embracing the past and preserve the honor of women, the dignity of the tribes, and the education of their young. While the Karzai government would rather collapse the nation’s connection to the dead and the past they represent, the Islamic Emirate stands positioned to fortify the gap between Islam and Tribe like trusses on a bridge crossing over decades of war-torn earth.  This bridge may not lead the Afghan people into the most advanced nation of the twenty-first century or the most progressive, but perhaps it will be the most peaceful Afghanistan that has been seen in the last decades.


[1]  Eckholm, Erik, “A Nation Challenged: Penalties,” The New York Times, December 26, 2001,

[2]  Zaeef, Abdul Salam, My Life with the Taliban, ed. Alex Strick van Linchoten and Felix Kuehn (New York: Columbia University Press, 2010), Kindle edition, ch. 14.

[3]   Ibid, ch. 7.

[4]  Human Rights Watch, “Crisis of Impunity Afghanistan: The Role of Pakistan, Russia and Iran Fuelling the Civil War,”HRW, July, 2001,

[5]  Ibid.

[6]  Zaeef, Ibid, ch. 8.

[7]  Ibid, ch. Character List.

[8]  Ibid, ch. 8.

[9]  Griffiths, John C., Afghanistan: Land of Conflict and Beauty (London: Carlton Publishing, 2011), Kindle edition, ch. 13.

[10]  Jones, Seth G. “Rise of Afghanistan’s Insurgency: State Failure and Jihad” International Security, Vol 32, No. 4, (2008): 7. JSTOR.

[11]  “Filling the Vacuum: The First Bonn Conference,” Frontline, accessed April, 15, 2013,

[12]  Jones, Ibid.

[13]  Anderson, John L. “Che Guevara: A Revolutionary Life” Grove Press, 1997,

[14]   Cordesman, Anthony H. “The Cost of the Afghan War: FY2002-FY2013” The Center for Strategic and International Studies, CSIS, May 14, 2012,

[15]  Davis, Daniel L., “Truth, Lies and Afghanistan: How Military Leaders Have Let Us Down,” Armed Forces Journal, 2012,

[16]  Wood, Paul.  “In Afghan Villages Where Taliban Still Rule,” BBC, October 3, 2011,

[17] Department of State “Afghanistan: State and AID Core Budget” DoS, accessed April 16, 2013,

[18] Frontline, Ibid.

[19] Risen, James, “Karzai Uses Ties to Gain Power in Afghanistan,” New York Times, October 5, 2010,

[20] Frontline, Ibid.

[21] Tolo, “70% of Kabul Residents Don’t Have Drinking Water,” Tolonews, July 6, 2011,–of-kabul-residents-dont-have-access-to-drinking-water

[22] Nichols, Michelle, “The World Fails Afghanistan, Despite Spending Billions,” Reuters, August 6, 2011,