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Jihadi Seminaries Under the Taliban: A Looming Threat

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Jihadi Seminaries Under the Taliban: A Looming Threat

The Taliban’s jihadi seminaries not only function as recruitment bases, but as centers of extremist indoctrination they pose a significant threat to the entire world.

Jihadi Seminaries Under the Taliban: A Looming Threat
Credit: Depositphotos

Since the Taliban’s return to power in mid-August 2021, millions of girls have been barred from attending school and university. The self-proclaimed regime currently ruling Afghanistan has deeply misogynistic tendencies, and has excluded women from most areas of public life. Afghanistan is the only country in the world where girls and women are systematically denied their fundamental rights, primarily the right to work and receive an education.

In the meantime, the Taliban are actively establishing jihadi madrassas, or seminaries, across Afghanistan. These institutions serve as incubators for extremism and antagonism. The Taliban formed the Directorate of Jihadi Seminaries to oversee the creation and operation of these madrassas. The former Taliban minister of education announced that the group should establish three to 10 jihadi seminaries in each of the 364 districts of the country, a project that is large enough to radicalize an entire nation and inject extremism into the minds of millions of Afghan children.

The Taliban have not only begun to establish these seminaries but also altered the semi-secular curriculum that was developed during the previous Republic administration over the course of two decades. This transformation of schools into jihadi seminaries through curriculum modification is a significant component of the Taliban’s radicalization strategy. Inciting jihad (holy war) against Western countries is encouraged to students in the Taliban’s modified curriculum. The long war against the United States, the British, and the Soviet Union is introduced as “real jihad” in the modified textbooks now being taught in schools in Afghanistan. Modifying the curriculum is a calculated move on the part of the Taliban to ensure the continuity and proliferation of their ideology, imbuing their antagonism at a national level.

Alongside the establishment and support of jihadi seminaries, the Taliban’s conversion of schools into such seminaries is a radicalization initiative that deprives millions of Afghan children of their right to an education. Moreover, the goal of the Taliban is to indoctrinate them with a hardline mentality, grooming an extremist generation.

The Taliban are prioritizing their rebranded Islamic knowledge over basic literacy and modern education with this shift toward jihadi seminaries. This shift signifies a clear departure from the universal principles of education, which emphasize the importance of a balanced curriculum that includes both religious and secular subjects. The Taliban value jihadi seminaries highly in their ideology, as evidenced by the fact that many of the group’s leaders and members, including their suicide bombers, received their education from such jihadi seminaries that indoctrinated them with radicalized teachings back in the 1990s.

One such religious seminary is the Darul Uloom Haqqania madrassa in Pakistan, known as the “University of Jihad.” This seminary has a notorious reputation for its role in producing some of the current top leaders of the Taliban, including the minister of interior affairs and the minister of refugees. The influence of these seminaries extends far beyond the borders of Afghanistan, affecting regional stability and global security.

Jihadi madrassas promote militant ideologies and teach boys to recite the Quran from memory without context or interpretation. In addition, the instructors inculcate cherry-picked Islamic provisions, specific Hadiths and Shariah principles that fit their hardline ideology and justify religious fanaticism. This method of teaching, devoid of critical thinking and contextual understanding, is a crucial factor in the radicalization process.

The content taught in the Taliban’s jihadi seminaries is meticulously designed to brainwash children, converting them into future militants and suicide bombers driven by religious causes. This indoctrination process is not only deeply troubling but also a clear violation of these children’s rights. Such children are taught to fight in the “sacred” way as the previous and current Taliban members did, perpetuating a cycle of violence and extremism. This cycle is not only destructive for the individuals involved but also for society and the country as a whole. A prominent example of graduates of jihadi seminaries controlled by the Taliban are the legions of suicide bombers who have slaughtered thousands of people over the years. 

Undeniably, the jihadi seminaries not only function as recruitment bases for the Taliban, but they also pose a looming peril to the entire world. These institutions will be responsible for creating a generation of radicalized young men who are capable of carrying out attacks similar to those of 9/11 as part of their extremist mission. These Taliban-controlled jihadi madrassas provide a breeding ground for militarism and extremism that can spill over to neighboring countries and beyond. This potential for cross-border extremism is a significant concern for regional stability and international security. There are serious global implications of the present situation in Afghanistan.

In some of these jihadi seminaries, the Taliban have integrated military training, aiming to acquaint their future militants with armaments early. This integration of military training into the curriculum is a clear indication of the Taliban’s long-term strategy to sustain their militant activities. Besides brainwashing children with jihadist religious interpretations, they are also being trained in warfare, creating a potent combination of ideological indoctrination and military training. This dual approach ensures that the next generation of fighters is not only ideologically aligned with the Taliban but also equipped with the necessary skills to carry out their extremist mission.

The surge in Taliban-backed jihadi seminaries presents a pressing global threat since these institutions serve as ideological incubators, fostering radical extremism and promoting violent jihad. Operating as recruitment centers for militants, their destructive influence will invariably extend beyond Afghanistan, contributing to cross-border terrorism and undermining international stability. Hence, urgent international collaboration is imperative to address this imminent danger, recognizing the symbiotic relationship between these seminaries and the Taliban’s extremist agenda. 

It is pivotal to emphasize that education ought to serve as a means of enlightenment and empowerment rather than a tool for indoctrination and the propagation of extremism. There is no practical option but to stop the proliferation of jihadi seminaries and promote a modern educational system in order to halt the production of trained terrorists with hardline thoughts hailing from Taliban jihadi seminaries.