Ron Moreau profiles the education policy inside the Hekmatyar-run Shamshatoo refugee camp, outside of Peshawar. Here is what I learned:
- At least four teenage boys, despite bragging of their burning desire to go into Afghanistan and join the jihad or write poetry, sat down to chat with Ron Moreau;
- Hekmatyar’s recruiters use phones and, from how he describes it, berating to “brainwash” these kids into committing jihad;
- A lot of U.S.-affiliated or -friendly families have children who go to school there, and apparently they never heard the rumors that the camp is basically a mini-police state run by Hekmatyar and supported by the ISI;
- All the cool kids self-refer as “jihadi;”
- Gulbuddin’s own son thinks it is a terrible idea to recruit children, and apparently he told Ron Moreau this;
- Newly recruited teenagers are sent to a “sprawling encampment of cave complexes, mud huts, and tents,” apparently in Nangarhar, in the mountains near Torkham;
- At this training camp, apparently in eastern Nangarhar, they spend a month learning weapons and IEDs. And no one sees them;
I know I should be worried about the deliberate recruitment of children to commit militancy, but frankly the Afghan government does the same thing. I don’t know how realistic it is to stop that.
No, what bugs the hell out of me here is that training camp, which is either really near the busiest border crossing in the region or close enough to where a Peshawari can go, train for a month, and come back in a reasonably short period of time. That really narrows down where it could be (seriously), and I’m a bit confused as to why it’s allowed to either continue operating, or, if so, why there seems to be so little movement against it.
Any of you have other thoughts?