ISIS reportedly kills 13 boys for watching soccer: Is ISIS adopting Taliban tactics?

Reports of torture and public executions being employed by ISIS have been circulating, but these harsh sharia tactics aren't new to those who lived in Afghanistan under the Taliban. 

Ishtiaq Mahsud/FILE/AP
ISIS's employment of harsh enforcement tactics of Sharia Law draws parallels with how the Taliban ruled Afghanistan from 1996 until the US led invasion following 9/11.

Unconfirmed reports say that ISIS had executed 13 young boys from Mosul, Iraq, over the weekend, by firing squad because they watched a soccer match on TV, according to Raqqa Is Being Slaughtered Silently, an activist group that claims to expose ISIS atrocities. 

The website is filled with descriptions of the harsh life under Islamic State rule. 

The report of boys killed for watching soccer comes on the heels of images the Islamic State released last week that depicted ISIS security personnel throwing two individuals to their deaths from a tower because they were "convicted" of being homosexual, according to a report from the International Business Times.

These images have sparked outrage across the world over the ruthless tactics employed by ISIS. Video beheadings, public executions, and torture have come to characterize life under the Islamic State in Western media. However, the harsh punishments meted out by ISIS authorities to enforce their version of sharia (Islamic law) are hardly new. 

The Taliban, who ruled Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001, quickly imposed strict sharia, banned political parties and "killed indiscriminately" during their rise to power after establishing control in Kandahar, Afghanistan in 1994, according to Slate. As a result, thousands of members of religious minorities were killed during the five-year rule of the Taliban, according to Oxfam. This is compared to more than 5,000 civilians who have been killed at the hands of ISIS, according to the New York Times. 

These strict measures included requiring women to wear head-to-foot burqas when in public and banned girls from getting an education past the age of 10. Men whose beards were deemed too short were subject to arrest.

Penalties ranged from public executions for convicted murderers and adulterers on Fridays at the Kabul sports arena, to amputation for citizens convicted of theft, according to the BBC.

The Taliban also sought to eliminate any trace of Western culture and modernity by banning television, music, and cinema. The Taliban government also neglected all forms of civil service and other basic state functions, reported Slate.

"The problems of Afghanistan were the result of the people not following ... Islam," an Afghan Mullah Mohammad Hassan told The Monitor in 1996, "What we are doing here is building a pure Islamic state, according to the Koran."

The Islamic State leaders today follow a similar logic. And the circumstances under which ISIS has become a major movement in post-war Iraq and war-torn Syria bears a similarity to the climate that saw the rise of the Taliban.

In wake of the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan in 1989, the country was awash with weapons and the deeply divided nature that characterizes Afghanistan's mosaic of ethnic groups and tribes made unifying the country a challenge. Former US representative Charlie Wilson (D) of Texas lobbied the Department of Defense to spend "billions of dollars" over the course of the Soviet occupation to fund the Afghan mujahideen, according to Democracy Now.

The mujahideen was a loosely affiliated fighting force that fractured once the occupying Soviets left and turned their weapons on each other in 1992 after a coalition government failed to consolidate power. In Sept.1996, the Taliban emerged from this multi-polar civil war and captured the capital, Kabul.

Similarly, ISIS was able to fill the vacuum of power in Syria and Iraq, capturing territory just three years after US combat forces completed their withdrawal from Iraq.  

How extreme is ISIS? In July 2014, even the Taliban warned the upstart Islamic Caliphate builder of "extremism." 

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