and other Gulf countries, which channeled ~ the money through local religious parties. As i,~y a result, many of the indigenous Sufi shrines ..,\l ff were closed down and turned into schools I ~ that taught the Wahhabi doctrine. Naturally, ~ the madrassas created a powerful political constituency for the local Wahhabi parties, since they not only provided free room and board but actually paid a monthly stipend - a vital source of support for many of the '$tudents' families. These boys had grown up in an exclusively male world, separated from their families for long periods of time. The traditions and customs and lore of their country were distant to them. They were stigmatized as beggars and sissies, and often preyed upon by men who were isolated from women. Entrenched in their studies, which were rigidly concentrated on the Quran and Sharia andthe glorification of jihad, the talibs imagined a perfect Islamic society, while ~awlessness and barbarity ran rampant all "!Iound them. They lived in the shadow of their fathers and older brothers, who had brought down the mighty superpower, andthey were eager to gain glory for themselves. Whenever theTaliban army required reinforcements, the madrassas in Peshawar andthe Tribal Areas simply shut down classes andthe students went to war, praising God as the buses ferried them across the border. Six 424 I j I I (fmonths after Kandahar surrendered, there were twelve thousand fighters jn the Ialiban. and twice a ain that number six months later . The ird stream was 0 ium. Immediately after capturing Kandahar, theTaliban consolidated control of Helmand province, the center of opium cultivation. Under the Talihan, Afghanistan became the largest poppy grower in the world. The smugglers and drug barons depended on theTaliban to keep the roads clear of bandits; in return, they paid a 10 percent tax, which became a principal source of income for theTaliban. In Kandahar there is a shrine that houses what is said to be the cloak of the Prophet Mohammed. The ancient robe is removed from its silver box only during periods of catastrophe - the last time had been during a cholera epidemic seventy years before. On April 4, 1996, Omar took the Prophet's cloak to a mosque in the center of the city. Having announced on the radio that he would display the relic in public, he climbed on the roof of the mosque and for thirty minutes paraded around with his hands in the sleeves of the cloak, while a delirious crowd cheered his designation as Amir-ul-Momineen, the leader of the faithful. Some people in the crowd fainted; others threw their hats and turbans into the air, hoping that they would brush against the sacred garment. Of course, it was the dream of Islamists 425 P4.'f'k...k> ?Catk.
everywhere that their religion would again be unified under the rule of a single righteous individual. Kings and sultans had bid for the role, but none had wrapped himself in the mantle of the Prophet as had this obscure mullah. It was a gesture both preposterous and electrifying. Omar gained the political authority he needed to pursue the war; but more than that, the action symbolically promised that theTaliban, as a moral force, would roll through Afghanistan andthen ,magnifY itself throughout the Islamic world. Bin Laden's families and some of his followers arrived in Jalalabad to find rudimentary quarters: tents for the wives, with latrines and drainage ditches, set inside a barbed-wire enclosure. When winter arrived, bin Laden secured new housing for the families on a former Soviet collective farm, which he called Najm aI-Jihad (star of the holy war). The men bunked nearby in the old ammunition storage cavern that bin Laden had excavated in Tora Bora. He outfitted the main cave with an armory of Kalashnikovs, a theological library, an archive of press clippings, and a couple of mattresses draped across several crates of hand grenades. He went back into business, setting up a modest trade in honey, but Afghanistan has almost no commercial infrastructure, so there was little he could actually do. The three 426 1 1 -I ,- I wives who stayed with him were accustomed to hardship, which bin Laden, naturally, embraced. He no longer slaughtered a lamb every day to serve his guests; now he rarely ate meat, preferring to live on dates, milk, yoghurt, and flatbread. Electricity was available for only three hours a day, and because there was no international telephone service his wives were completely cut off from their families in Syria and Saudi Arabia. Bin Laden had a satellite phone, but he spoke on it sparingly, believing that the Americans were monitoring his calls. He was suspicious of mechanical devices in general, even clocks, which he thought might be used for surveillance. 111M,. ~ ,;. ab1> kC'.