Omari was a haggard 23-year-old man with a sparse beard and wearing an Afghan special forces jacket. He recalled that day when a group of missionaries arrived at a religious school in a village near Kabul.
“They delivered speeches from the podium, preaching the value and necessity of jihad,” he said. “I have faith, firm conviction. [They] Lead me to join the Taliban. “
After graduation, he went to nearby Wardak Province for military training and joined the local Taliban forces. They will ambush the Afghan army there and plant mines and bombs for targeted clearance.
Omari represents a new generation of Taliban. In this country with a median age of 18, Taliban members make up the majority of the organization.
They have become strong due to years of fierce conflict, and they are too young to remember when the Islamists first ruled in the 1990s. They have an idealistic vision for the face of the new Islamic emirate in Afghanistan.
Omari said that there should be no “compromising with our martyrs’ enemies.” “The most important thing… is to establish a pure Islamic regime. Well, we can sit down and talk about everything, but not the Islamic regime. This is our red line.”
Omari’s hardline views have been shared by thousands of young fighters, but they are often at odds with proposals made by older Taliban leaders, who promised to establish a more moderate regime, pardon former opposition and restrict women’s rights.
These vows are Repeatedly contradict one another Because of the actions of local militants. In the scattered military structure of the Taliban, the belief, passion and resentment of this younger generation will help define life in Afghanistan under Taliban rule.
For the elderly leaders who have recently returned after decades of exile in Pakistan or Qatar, controlling and satisfying the young Taliban is essential to ensure the unity and longevity of their governments.
Ibraheem Thurial Bahiss, an adviser to the International Crisis Group, pointed out that although the various views and typography within the Taliban are different, the differences between young and old will prove one of the biggest challenges facing the organization.
“The older generation is more pragmatic in many aspects because they have experience in managing the government and know what the challenges they faced when they were in power last time,” he said. “The younger generation does not necessarily have. They have a utopian vision of what they want.”
The US-led invasion in 2001 dispersed the Taliban, and founders such as Hassan Ahund and Abdul Ghani Baradal (current prime minister and deputy prime minister) fled overseas. The rebellion was supported by the seemingly endless swelling of young Afghan men.
While some people, such as Omari, are driven by ideological fanaticism and greedy aversion to the US-backed government, others like Hamza hope to retaliate in the cycle of tit-for-tat atrocities that maintain the war.
The 28-year-old man from the eastern province of Nangarhar said that he joined the rebellion in 2014 because his father-himself a Taliban militant-was allegedly executed by US troops in a night raid.
“They took him out of the house, blindfolded, and tied his hands tightly behind his back,” he said. “An hour later, we heard gunshots.”
Wanda Feuerbab-Brown, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, said that many young Taliban are united by a sense of solidarity. miss.
“Most of them have failed to take advantage of the wealth and opportunities of the past 20 years,” she said. They believe that “the rule of the past 20 years is very unfair and unjust because it is run by indifferent liars.”
Although poor, rural communities Drought The war proved the Taliban’s most reliable recruitment base, and the organization is more diverse in other respects than before.
The 30-year-old Muhammad worked as a Taliban spy while at Kabul University. He was responsible for transporting weapons and alerting his troops to the movements of military convoys.
He appeared more pragmatic and hoped that the Taliban would establish the international connections and trade needed to revive the country’s economy.
“The most important thing for me is a well-functioning governance system and international recognition,” he said. “We respect the world now. We are enemies because they invaded us and destroyed our houses and villages, but now we want to… build relationships.”
It is not clear how many young members are represented in the Taliban leadership. Sirajuddin Haqqani and Muhammad Yaqoob are both descendants of the rebellious dynasty and members of the new Taliban generation. They are both part of the interim government, but little is known about them.
Yaqoob is believed to be in his early 30s and only appeared in public for the first time this month. For most of the war, his whereabouts were a mystery.
Some analysts are skeptical about the influence of these young leaders. For example, 27-year-old Anas Haqqani is not in the new cabinet. He has been one of the most public figures in the Taliban since he came to power.
For another group of young Afghans, the Taliban are too weak.
A 2020 study by the United States Institute of Peace found that ISIS-KIt is an affiliate of the international terrorist organization and the Taliban enemy. Most of its bases are from Middle class, urban youthMany people are attracted by their perceived ideological purity and condemn the Taliban’s “corrupted version of Islam.”
Graeme Smith of the International Crisis Group said there was a generation that was “more radical than the mainstream Taliban.” The new Taliban ruler will be “busy.”