So, you know from the eye-opening documentary Rambo III that Afghanistan was invaded by Russia in the 1980s. Once the Russians pulled out, Afghanistan was basically one big civil war between dozens of competing warlords. Our source for this article, Janis, and his family fled to Kabul when the whole warlord period started. But on the whole, he recalls those as Afghanistan's good ol' days. "In the time of warlords, we could go to school. There were a lot of job opportunities; you could work," he says.
And then came the Taliban and their extreme form of Islam. For Janis, and probably most Afghan people, this just kind of happened, out of the blue. One day, as Janis recounts, Afghans were told via a BBC radio broadcast, Janis says, "There wouldn't be school for girls, that females couldn't go outside. They should stay at home, and no one could see her face. I had my mom at home, and I wanted her to go out with us, and she couldn't."
Just a couple nights after hearing about the takeover on the radio, it started. "We were sleeping and we heard gunshots," he says. They awoke to learn that the band of mujahedeen who'd controlled the city before had fled Jalalabad, his home, and the Taliban had control. Janis was outside playing with his friends when two or three Taliban trucks came rolling by. He recalled the men as having "big turbans" and beards and being generally "dirty." The Taliban introduced themselves to Janis' neighborhood when they "leapt out of trucks and started beating girls, women, everyone on the street." It was a good day to be an asshole with a gun, but a pretty bad time for everyone else.