Anyone who has paid attention to the situation of women in Afghanistan should not have been surprised to learn that the Taliban are complicit in terrorism. When radical Muslim movements are on the rise, women are the canaries in the mines. The very visible repression of forced veiling and loss of hard-won freedoms coexists naturally with a general disrespect for human rights. This repression of women is not about religion; it is a political tool for achieving and consolidating power.

Sher Abbas Stanakzai, then the Taliban regime’s deputy foreign minister, admitted as much in a 1997 interview. ”Our current restrictions of women are necessary in order to bring the Afghan people under control,” he said. ”We need these restrictions until people learn to obey the Taliban.”

In the same way that many Islamic extremist crusades use the oppression of women to help them gain control over wider populations, the Taliban and Osama bin Laden are now employing the tactics of terrorism to gain control.

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