Secular opinion

A journey from the Taliban ranks to Atheism

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Fawad was born in a war-torn region of Afghanistan. He spent his childhood and adolescence among illiterate, ignorant and religious extremists. During that time, Fawad was influenced by the extremist ideology of his region and saw his fellow rural youth fighting for the protection of religion against the government and foreigners in the ranks of the Taliban. His love of religion and homeland encouraged him to join the Taliban. Fawad was physically strong and courageous in the fight against the government and even participated in dangerous operations.

Fawad’s bravery made him famous among his peers. The Taliban made him the leader of a group of 12 people. He would always fight on the front lines. In recognition of his bravery, the Taliban leaders gave him the title of Shaheen (Eagle).

In the last month of 2017. I came to Kabul from my home province after repeated warnings from the Taliban. Here, while continuing my bachelor studies, I started to launch enlightenment programs. One night in Kabul, my phone rang. I was told by someone that “I had seen your pictures on Facebook.” He added, “you are handsome young man. You did not deserve death and this is the last warning. If you continue these activities, you will be killed by my hand.” He hung up the phone.

I was a little scared but didn’t care much because this was not the first time I had been threatened. However, I continued my activities like before and never gave up. A week later, I got a call again. This time he was full of rage. “I told you to stop your activities but you did not accept. Your time has come to be killed.”

Honestly, this time I was more scared than ever. But I didn’t think much of it, so I continued my activities. The calls continued. The series went on and on. We argued, discussed and we debated more about the country, Islam, and the killing of innocent people by the Taliban. In response to my questions, he always replied that “Sheikh Sahib (Taliban Leader) knows very well that your faith is damaged. You are faithless, infidel and slave.”

Afterwards slowly, he started calmly listening to me, even though he once told me that my words were wrong. I knew he was thinking about my words and felt that I was telling the truth.

Slowly, he started sharing stories of his wars, of his comrades-in-arms being killed, and so on. I was listening to him calmly and sympathized with him. In some gaps in the conversation, I invited him to come to Kabul, far from war and to make his and his family live peacefully. But his answers would always be, “it’s not possible.”

Our phone conversations lasted for several months and then suddenly, he disappeared. No more phone ringing from him calling me. I thought about it for a long time and after a while I told myself that he had been killed in the war.

About two and a half months later, one afternoon, I received a call from an unknown number. When I recognized him, I was glad to hear his (Fawad’s) voice. He told me that he was in Kabul and wanted to see me. While a little bit scared, I met him. He was young, with long beautiful hair and a thin beard. He had a strong body like a bodybuilder. He started telling his story to me. “One day, my leader ordered me to put a mine on a road. I planted the mine. I placed a checkpoint a few meters away from the mine. The first car came. We stopped it for searching. When I got into the car, I saw that my father was also sitting in the car with the other passengers. I knew but I got very upset. I got out of the car. I told my friend not to let the car go. I thought to myself that if I had not stopped the car, my father would have been killed with a bomb that I planted. And out of remorse many things fell into place. I soon removed the landmine with another friend and then let the car go.”

Fawad continued: “After this incident, my whole struggle seemed meaningless to me. I found myself to be a murderer of innocent people. I could hear your words in my ears for days and nights. I could neither sleep nor eat. Then I realized that I could leave all of that behind.” He went on to say that he had gone to his commander and told him that he was ill and that he was going home. “So I came to Kabul and in a few days my whole family moved to Kabul.”

This was Fawad who fought in the Taliban ranks for many years. He was repeatedly wounded but could not be defeated. He intend to kill me, but after my conversation with him and the incident of his father, he learned to leave all the crime behind. After studying and research, he left religion and became an atheist. He started struggling to awaken other young people.

The Taliban tried to assassinate him several times but failed. Finally, unfortunately, on the second day of the fall of Kabul, the Taliban captured him and brutally killed him after much torture and cruelty.

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