Things I Learned About The Jihadhi High School

by Joshua Foust on 4/24/2011 · 2 comments

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?


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This post was written by...

– author of 1848 posts on 17_PersonNotFound.

Joshua Foust is a Fellow at the American Security Project and the author of Afghanistan Journal: Selections from Registan.net. His research focuses primarily on Central and South Asia. Joshua is a correspondent for The Atlantic and a columnist for PBS Need to Know. Joshua appears regularly on the BBC World News, Aljazeera, and international public radio. Joshua's writing has appeared in the Columbia Journalism Review, Foreign Policy’s AfPak Channel, the New York Times, Reuters, and the Christian Science Monitor. Follow him on twitter: @joshuafoust

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{ 2 comments }

anan April 25, 2011 at 12:57 am

“Any of you have other thoughts?”

You are joking right? Hekmatyur has long been close to Harakat al Mujahadin and associated with the Kashmir Jihad. Often these schools, logistics hubs and training centers are in plain sight in urban areas.

Jakob April 25, 2011 at 9:18 am

thanks for pointing the article out.

we run a walk-in clinic just outside Shamshatoo (500 m from it’s official entrance). People bring their relatives from Paktia, Khost for treatment regularly. movement along those lines (not so much the Khyber route I think) is frequent, hence also the other direction is really no issue.

once other stuff on the list is ticked done, I hope to get around to portray the situation as far as I can gain insight.

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