A surprising high number of people in southern Afghanistan have never heard about the terrorist attacks which struck the United States on September 11, 2001, according to a report from the International Council on Security and Development (ICOS).
The report draws on findings from field research conducted by Afghan interviewers in October of this year, interviewing some 1,000 Afghan men in Kandahar and Helmand provinces of southern Afghanistan. With multiple attacks every day, those are the most violent regions of Afghanistan. Another 500 men were interviewed in the northern provinces of Parwan and Panjshir, which is calm compared to the south.
Among other findings, the report showed a significant lack of understanding of the history of the international community's presence in the country. Many interviewed by ICOS said they did not know about the events of 9/11 and were unable to describe what a democracy is.
The ICOS said the dissemination of the international community's political narrative and public justification for its presence in Afghanistan is very limited. As a result, the Taliban and other insurgent groups are able to easily fill this gap with its own propaganda.
According to the research, more than 90 percent of those interviewed in the south were not familiar with the events of 9/11, when al-Qaeda terrorists hijacked four passenger planes and crashed them in New York City, Washington, D.C. and in Pennsylvania.
This is a huge reason why we are still having big insurgency issues in the southern and eastern provinces.
If there really is this kind of gap of knowledge, we need find a way to bridge it and quickly because it'll be a much steeper hill that we'll have to climb with regards to winning this war. In the end, we'll win this war with the pen not the gun; ink not bullets.
As they say, knowledge is power, and this study shows that we are losing this part of the war badly. It is no coincidence that there are many more attacks in the same part of the country that 90% of the people don't know anything about 9/11.