Remember the Taliban?

In an Op-Ed piece in New York Times, Peter Bergen and Swati Pandey argue that a myth has been perpetuated that madrassas are graduating students who become terrorists. They examined the background of 75 terrorists and found that most of them are college-educated and often in western countries. Madrassas produce fundamentalists, but they do not give the weapons training required to cause massive damage as the 9/11 terrorists or the Bali bombe. Also, according to their investigation only 1 percent of Pakistani students study in madrassas and not 10 percent as reported in the press.
To these people I have only one word – Taliban. These Afghans who were born in refugee camps in Pakistan, educated in madrassas learned their fighting skills from Mujaheddin parties in Pakistan. The madrassas belonged to Maulana Fazlur Rehman and his Jamiat-e-Ulema Islam which has support among Pashtuns in Balochistan and the North West Frontier Province. After they captured Khandahar, students from Afghani and Pakistani madrassas rushed to join the Taliban. It was these Taliban who gave a base for Osama Bin Laden and his Al-Qaeda and few years later we got some 3000 dead Americans on Sept 11th.
So when Bergen and Pandey say madrassas don’t provide weapons training, they might be right. But madrassas condition the mind and in Pakistan there are enough people to provide the required training.

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