and operated by the Haqqani Network in Serai Darpakhel……The undertaking or affidavit ‘esteshahadi’ … picture of would-be bomber, his name, his father’s name….family occupation, father’s political
affiliation….experience, if any, in militant activities.
Announcing graduate studies in “how to be a suicide bomber.” The Unique Selling Point: campus recruitment is 100%, they would like many more students!!!
It was one of the many non-descript buildings around, located at the
dead-end of a small street inside Serai Darpakhel. “Go straight and
there is the door on the left”, we were told by a guard outside the
street. But even then it was hard to find the iron door, opposite
a power transformer and a heavy generator to ensure uninterrupted power
For the unsuspecting outsiders, there was nothing
unusual about this place, except that it was known to all those who
lived nearby. It was a facility to indoctrinate and train suicide
Step inside and there is a courtyard with big columns, mats spread out, bedrolling piled up in one corner.
Nothing unusual. Stairs lead to the upper portion painted in light cream and brown colours.
Plastered on one of the walls is a white banner inscribed with kalma and beneath it ‘the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan’.
was one of the five suicide bombing facilities, locals now say, owned
and operated by the Haqqani Network in Serai Darpakhel, frequented by
would- be-bombers in their teens and twenties; Afghans and Mehsuds
mostly but boys from Mohmand and Orakzai too would turn up.
Rarely were the religious indoctrinators, mentors or those running
the centres seen outside the iron gate that shielded the dead-end house
No -one living in Serai Darpakhel knew who they were, except that it was a centre for suicide bombers.
those brought or enrolled at the centre for ‘esteshahadi’ or martyrdom
were not allowed to step outside till the completion of his mandatory
two-month stay inside the centre.
The undertaking or affidavit all ‘esteshahadi’ friends were required to sign was elaborate.
had a printed colour picture of the would-be bomber, his name, assumed
name, his father’s name, age, address, education, personal contact
number, family contact number, family occupation, names of
friends and acquaintances, father’s past and present political
affiliation, the number of members in the family and their monthly
income and experience, if any, in militant activities.
seven rules the ‘esteshahadi friend’ were required to live by were
pretty stringent too. The use of cell phones were neither allowed nor
considered necessary, the undertaking said. For two months, neither
would the enroller be allowed to go outside nor was he allowed to go out
without permission, it read.
He was also required to make no
attempt to befriend anyone else except his other ‘fidayi brothers’
teachers and mentors. He was supposed to hand-over his personal
belongings to the centre in-charge and ask for things he might need from
Other than that, things inside the centre were kept tight with a
strict regimen of praying, spiritual and religious indoctrination and
cooking, locals say.
Even a man, who came looking for his son, was
turned away by the centre’s administrator, feigning ignorance about his
whereabouts, a local resident recalls. It was only after a lot of
contacts here and there, that the centre reluctantly let the boy go.
very far from Serai Darpakhel, drive to the main Miramshah bazaar. And
there is the two-storey building of what once was the Government Girls
Higher Secondary School. When militants first moved in and started
bombing schools, this too was soon abandoned and later occupied and
converted by militants of all hue and origin into a facility for
training and distribution of dead bodies on their arrival from
battlefield or of those killed in drone strikes.
The 450 to 500
girls were later shifted to continue their studies at a degree college
inside the military cantonment in Miramshah. The militants,
surprisingly, had no objection to that.