The Taliban are accused of poisoning more than 1,000 Afghan schoolgirls. But did they? Examining the evidence.
Things finally came to a head on June 6. Afghanistan’s equivalent of the FBI, the National Directorate of Security, announced the arrests of 15 suspects in the incidents, including two 17-year-old Taloqan schoolgirls: an 11th grader named Shukria and a 12th grader named Seema Gul. At a high-profile press conference attended by Takhar officials and members of the national media, the NDS distributed videotapes of some suspects’ purported confessions. According to the NDS, Shukria and Seema Gul were paid the equivalent of $1,000 each to release poison in their schools. One of the videos shows Seema Gul, a Bibi Hajira student, sitting in a dimly lit room as she tells how an alleged Taliban agent coerced her into poisoning her classmates. “I was followed by Mullah Najib to my school, and he gave me a pot and threatened he would kill or kidnap me,” she says, her voice hoarse and frantic. “I had to do it.”