How one gets to beTaliban

Syed Kamran Mirza


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The American Taliban! The entire world was stunned by the heart-breaking news of an American Taliban. The CNN, MSNBC and all other media’s and various news papers of the West widely broadcast this “breaking news” about one little Taliban of white Caucasian origin.  We learned/heard about thousands of Afghan Talibans for the last several months or years, but those Talibani news were not as sensitive as this single American Taliban.  The question is why?


What is the meaning of Taliban?  Taliban is the Arabic word for Students, i.e., a student who studies Koran, hadiths and about religion Islam is called a Talib. The plural form of the word student in Arabic is Taliban.  Now, why this word Taliban so hateful a word to the West?  The answer is so obvious that it does not need any explanation.  In 1971, another middle-eastern good word “Razakar” becomes a word of extreme hateful to all Bangalees. Though, the meaning of the word “Razakar” is “helper." By their heinous deeds during the Bangalee’s freedom fighting in 1971—these Razakars acquired so much hatreds from the peoples that, now the word ‘Razakar’ had become the most hateful title for any human being in Bangladesh.


The American Taliban


A 20-year-old Taliban fighter -- identified by Newsweek magazine as John Phillip Walker Lindh, who went by the name Walker, and a native of Washington, D.C., who lived in the Maryland suburbs and later moved to Northern California -- was among 86 Taliban troops the Northern Alliance flooded out of a tunnel beneath the mud-walled Qala-i-Janghi (Fortress of War). The U.S. military forces have taken custody of this one-of-kind Taliban fighter who claims to be an American citizen and survived a prison riot last week at a fortress near the northern city of Mazar-e Sharif.  The man is now calling himself Abdul Hamid.


The father of this American Taliban Frank Lindh (a lawyer) said that his son Walker, raised as Catholic, was converted to Islam at the age of 16.  His mother, Marilyn Walker called her son "a sweet, shy kid" and said she is shocked that he fell in with the Taliban and bin Laden.  "If he got involved with the Taliban, he must have been brainwashed," she told Newsweek.   Marilyn Walker described her son as having a strong sense of social justice, said she did not know why he was attracted to Islam.


Two years after his conversion, at age 18, he traveled to Sana, Yemen, to learn Arabic and Islam before moving to Pakistan and attending a Madrassah, or Islamic school, in the village of Bannu, Pakistan. (Parenthetically I would like to mention that ours Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was kept in a Dakbangla - government rest house - interned during the beginning of our freedom struggle in 1971.  The same Dakbangla was used to intern General Yahya Khan when he was ousted from power in the aftermath of December 16, 1971, victory.  Therefore, what a coincidence it is that the American Taliban was also housed in Bannu!  We should all avoid this town of Bannu by all means!).  His mother said the last time she spoke with him was in April 2001, when he was studying the ‘Koran and about Islam’ at another Madrassah in Pakistan's Northwest Frontier Province. This newly converted Muslim American told the reporters that, he supported the events that took place on September 11 and also supported Terrorists attack in the destroyer USS Cole, which killed 17 American sailors in Yemen in October 2000. His father said his son suggested that the bombing in the USS Cole may have been justified because the ship was docked in the water of an Islamic country. What a civilized mindset!



Exegesis of this incident:


Question could be asked, what made this American Caucasian a Taliban in the first place?  Who is possibly the real maker of this Taliban?  Was it his own voluntary reaction, as a reaction of an individual mindset? How can it be explained that a born white American turned into a bona fide Taliban who took arms and fought against his own homeland?  Was it a normal phenomenon by any standard?  The answer is a big NO! Then, what was the real cause which had totally made this “young sweet and shy” American boy into a Jihadi Terrorist Taliban, who was standing on his one foot ready to kill his own people.  What lead an innocent guy to become the most dangerous Jihadi holy warrior who left his own homeland for a foreign country thousands of miles away to fight against the infidels?  This young American could be converted to any religion (Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, and Islam), if he chose to.  Let us consider these scenarios below. Let us examine those possibilities one-by-one:


If he was converted to Christianity: He would at best lead an evangelical life style as the good Christian, or could be a Christian priest.  But never would he be a holy warrior or Christian suicidal terrorist. There was no chance that he could be A TALIBAN.  Nor, there could be any remote possibility that he would leave his home country for a distant country to fight a holy war against his own homeland.


If he was converted to Hinduism: He would be a happy, jolly young American Hare Krishna kid without any hair on his scalp with a very docile and loving attitude.  He would at best leave the American luxurious life style and shaved head, wore yellowish-red coarse cloths, put Tilak on the fore head (adorn sandal-wood paste on his fore head) and dance in the American street singing Hindu devotional songs—Hare Rama, Hare Krishna… There was no possibility that this young American Hindu kid would ever turn into a TALIBAN style Hindu warrior to fight the infidels in a foreign land. He would never ever fight his own Government.


If he was converted to Buddhism: He would be a most peaceful young man with ample love and forgiveness for all, malice towards none. He would lead a very simple life with no luxury at all, eat no meat, kill no animals, shave his head, wore yellow coarse cloths and would dedicate his life to teach people non violence of Lord Buddha. He would never ever join to fight anybody.


If he was converted to Judaism: He would at best be a perfect Jewish young man performing fundamentalist Jewish rituals, would wore a small skull cap (yarmulke) over his head, could be bearded, or performed other Jewish cultures, or at an extreme scenario he could turn into a Jewish rabbi.  But he would never be a TALIBAN, or a Jihadi/holy warrior by any means.  He would never preach hatreds for other religion or never would love to kill infidels.  Most of all, there is no reason to believe that, this young American Jewish named ‘John Walker’ would leave his motherland America for some distant foreign country 10,000 miles away to become a holy Jihadi.  He would definitely never take weapons to fight against his own country men. 


However, he was converted to Islam:  In this category the result was very obvious.  This is our hero of this story—John Walker Lindh (transformed as Abdul Hamid) the famous American TALIBAN.   He was the direct product of peaceful ISLAM.  He learned initial hatreds toward all other religions from the Holy Quran, Ahadiths and Islamic history.  He went to Yemen and later to Pakistan (the cradle of Islamic zeal), to learn Qur’an, Ahadiths, and all the “good stuff” about Islam. He did not act like all those million born-Muslims who never read to understand Holy Quran or hadiths, hence they never assimilated Islam.  But our one-of-a kind hero John Walker read Holy Qur’an and Hadiths extensively and exhaustively, both.  He digested all those hundreds of Quranic scriptural instructions to kill the infidels, and rested his 100% belief on the Quran to become a perfect Mussulman (Muslim). He also learned Islamic zeal, holy duties as a true Muslim from his Madrassha Huzurs (teachers). He also learned very well about the unlimited pleasures (72 houri, gilman, wine, honey, milk, bird’s meat and many other heavenly rewards) of Islamic heaven especially sanctioned by the Merciful Allah if he can die as the Martyr (Shahid) of Holy war.  He learned perfectly from his Madrassha teacher (a Maulana, of course) that, it was his sacred duty to support his Muslim Ummah (the world community of Islam) in their struggle with the American infidels, no matter how wrong they (Talibans) were. He got every direction and pure justification from Allah’s Qur’an to fight for those pure Muslims of Afghanistan in their war with the infidels.  Therefore, it should not be questioned at all why he became a Taliban—the famous American Taliban.


Now, could somebody give me any good reason why we should not blame the fanatic zeal of this hateful religion Islam for the ardent transformation of this “sweet and shy” American boy into a dangerously hatemongering Taliban?   Or, could anybody justify that this ‘sweet and shy’ American kid could be a Taliban even he was not converted to Muslim?  Have I not answered with all prudent logic and cause, as to what has made this American sweet boy into a human monster¾The Taliban?


Some after thought: The real maker of this American Taliban was of course our peaceful Islam. Many world famous philosophers/intellectuals/politicians repeatedly stated that the lethal effect of a religion is just like the lethal effect of a harmful drug such as Opium. Fanaticism of a religion can be more dangerous than the harmful effect of a drug or alcohol. Just as, a very gentle human being can act strange or dangerous as long as the action of a drug remains in his system, similarly fanatic zeal of some hateful religion also can turn a gentle, compassionate human being into a very cruel heartless monstrous person.  We have seen this phenomenon in 1971, during our Bangladesh’s  freedom fighting,  how many of our gentle Bangalee Maulanas became infamous ‘Razakar’ and Al-badr—who used to kill our freedom fighters, burn our houses and rape our sisters and mothers. It was a million dollar question to me how our local Maulana, (who otherwise was a superb good and kind hearted human being) was the local Razakar commander. This Maulana was so cruel that he even killed the only son of our village doctor. It was a mystery to me how a sober gentle Maulana could have killed some young freedom fighters. It was all possible by the fanatic zealotry of the religion Islam. Because, in 1971, all those Razakars (most of them were Mullahs, maulana and Madrssha students) were serving Allah in the name of saving Islam. It was the religion Islam they were highly motivated with, for sure. Like wise, It was the Islamic teachings by which our American Taliban John Walker Lindh was motivated to join the Jihadi Holy war of Afghan Taliban. This case scenario of American Taliban John Walker Lindh is the testament of the lethal effect of Islamic zealotry!  


Finally, let me conclude my essay about this world famous American Taliban with this very appropriate quotation below:


“Religion is an insult to human dignity.  With or without it, you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things.  But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion.”-- by Nobel Laureate physicist Steven Weinberg.







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