As the United States continues to strive for sustainable security, unseen dangers are with the people of Afghanistan every day. It has been a violent decade since the US retaliated for history’s worst terrorist attack.
In one Red Cross centre in Kabul alone, 5,000 Afghans have been treated for a missing limb… torn off by insurgents’ improvised bombs.
Some of the men accused of making the bombs are locked up. In this Kandahar prison, Farid Ahmad is just 18 years old. More than 20 bombs are said to have been his work.
Farid Ahmad, a bomb-maker, said: “Believe me, I have cried in my cell, begging that God will punish the people who manipulated me into killing innocent people.”
It is common, recruiting young people to maim others, to destabilise the Afghan government. In Qal-e-Now, Badghis province, far from Kandahar, Khalima tells how a son was lost to her.
Khalima, a suicide-bomber’s mother, said: “People I didn’t know came to me early one morning and told me Akhtar had died a martyr. I am proud of my son for that. It doesn’t cause me pain. He changed over the past few years. He was more withdrawn. He hung around with the neighbourhood boys in the mosque all the time. I could never imagine it was brainwashing. I didn’t suspect anything. My son never talked about his political ideas.”
Ezadullah Nasrat Yar also suffered from terrorism. He spent five years in US custody, at Guantanamo. Four years after the Americans let him out, as the Obama administration oredered the prison to close, he still does not know what they thought he had done.
Ezadullah Nasrat Yar: “I don’t know why I was arrested, on what charge. I was working for the Karzai government in the disarmament programme — on disarming, demobilising and reintegration. I was getting ready for sundown prayers one day when soldiers stormed my house.”
The violence accompanying the foreign troop presence has displaced many ordinary Afghans. Ten thousand of them live in this camp near Kabul, ten years into the war against terrorism, and counting.