Day Zero: US-Funded Textbooks Taught Afghan Kids The ABCs of Jihad

Would you be surprised to hear that the US government was at least partly responsible for the birth of Islamic extremism as we know it today… by brainwashing Afghan children into becoming Jihadists?

While the US has influenced the Middle East since the first World War, it ramped up its intervention during the Cold War by aiding Osama Bin Laden. He led the Mujaheddin who would later become Al Qaeda (the root of modern-day extremist Islamic jihadist terrorism). Anything, it seems, was ethical as long as the Soviets were driven back.

This aid was widely believed by the informed public to have been limited to weapons and training of already-indoctrinated fully-grown extremist fighters. If only that was all the US did there though.

The Washington Post wrote an article awhile back, revealing how the US had also supplied textbooks filled with violent images and militant Jihadist teachings- featuring drawings of guns, bullets, soldiers and mines. These weren’t textbooks destined for fringe extremist madrasas either; they were part of the Afghan core curriculum.

So effective was the propaganda, these textbooks would continue to serve the Taliban well when they rose to power.

Children were taught to count with pictures of tanks, missiles and land mines.

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(Above are the images of Afghan textbooks housed in the National Army Museum in Britain. Inside the children’s book, statements like “I am the enemy of Russia” intermingle with such banal observations as “In winter weather is cold”. Brainwashing children who are too young to even know that winter is cold isn’t very ethical)

The Washington Post notes that “one page from the texts of that period shows a resistance fighter with a bandolier and a Kalashnikov slung from his shoulder. The soldier’s head is missing.

Above the soldier is a verse from the Koran. Below is a Pashtu tribute to the mujaheddin, who are described as obedient to Allah. Such men will sacrifice their wealth and life itself to impose Islamic law on the government, the text says.”

The US has continued to supply textbooks to Afghan children since invading the country, sans the war-mongering teachings- it had scrubbed references to killing and guns from some 4 million textbooks that were being sent to Afghanistan from neighboring Pakistan.

The textbooks will continue to teach Muslim tenets and contain Koranic verses, which the White House says “are fully in compliance with U.S. law and policy”, despite the fact that the US Agency for International Development’s policy states that it “will finance only programs that have a secular purpose. . . . AID-financed activities cannot result in religious indoctrination of the ultimate beneficiaries.”

To understand just how horrible these old textbooks were, aid workers who reviewed the books found that 43 pages of a 100-page book contained violent images or passages.

Chris Brown, head of book revision for AID’s Central Asia Task Force admitted that the textbooks were a form of extremely effective anti-soviet propaganda.

“I think we were perfectly happy to see these books trashing the Soviet Union,” Brown said.

Many of the textbooks have since been revised or destroyed, “we turned it from a wartime curriculum to a peacetime curriculum,” he said of the new books.

Even so, the legacy of these books can be felt in the children who have since matured into the fighters and leaders of the Taliban, Al Qaeda and ISIS- men who literally grew up believing their hateful teachings thanks in large part to the USA.

More recently, the Taliban has been reprinting the old texts– to be used against the foreign country that had supplied them their core ideology to begin with.

Sources: Washington Post, The Free Thought Project, Forbes, BBC, Culture 24

This Article (Day Zero: US-Funded Textbooks Taught Afghan Kids The ABCs of Jihad) is free and open source. You have permission to republish this article under a Creative Commons license with attribution to the author(CoNN) and

Nathan Nicholson

I am 23 year old activist from West Virginia.

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