This doesn’t come as a surprise.
He witnessed kids as young as four receive vicious beatings – often for minor offences such as looking the wrong way, failing to recite a passage in the Quran correctly, or for talking during prayers.
The beatings ranged in severity from slaps to ‘full-blown’ attacks with bats, sticks or metal poles.
It was not uncommon for children aged between four and 16 to suffer from broken bones, he said.
‘They justified these beatings by claiming that the children were not being “proper” Muslims and that they had to be taught a lesson,’ said Sarwar.
‘This is a culture where forced education and corporal punishment go hand-in-hand.
‘It’s a culture where children are made to fear their elders, and Islam generally, from a very, very young age.’
British father of three went undercover to infiltrate Taliban training camp – and escaped to tell tale of brutality and glamorised violence
- Cal Sarwar was in Pakistan doing aid work when he decided to join jihadis
- They welcomed him with open arms and asked for £1,000 to train him up
- He escaped after pretending he had to go and get the cash to pay them
- Now Mr Sarwar has dramatised his experiences in a semi-fictional book
Brave: Aid worker Cal Sarwar, from Falkirk, Scotland, who infiltrated the Taliban and lived to tell the tale
A British man may be the first Western civilian to infiltrate a Taliban training camp and escape to tell the tale.
Cal Sarwar from Falkirk, Scotland, posed as a disillusioned Muslim with a deep hatred of the West to join Taliban fighters in lawless Waziristan, north-west Pakistan.
If his cover had been blown, Sarwar – who has not military experience and who went in with no back up or escape plan – believes he would have been immediately murdered or taken hostage.
But he earned their trust and returned alive after an experience that was, he said, ‘terrifying’ in an environment that ‘glamorised and normalised violence’.
After returning to Britain Sarwar has reported his experience to police and he has debriefed counter-terrorism officers with a description of what he encountered.
Speaking for the first time about his extraordinary mission he said: ‘Since 9/11, I became increasingly concerned about the threat of terrorism and, more specifically, about the risk of my own family – and other innocent British youngsters – being brainwashed by these extremists through clever internet marketing.
‘Having harboured this fear for many years, my chance came to do something about it when I travelled to Pakistan on an aid mission.
‘I knew that this was my best chance to understand how these terror organisations operate and, armed with that knowledge, I wanted to prevent my own family, their friends and many other vulnerable British Muslims and non-Muslims from falling prey to these beasts.
‘Having made some surreptitious enquiries, I met a Taliban fixer who, for a fee, escorted me to the training camp. What I learnt, and what I saw, filled me with dread. The place was far from a holiday camp, but I could see its appeal and excitement from a teenager’s point of view.
‘It glamorised and normalised violence – it managed to make it appear acceptable.’The fundamentalist Islamic Taliban emerged in the early 1990s in northern Pakistan in the chaos and internecine warfare following the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Afghanistan.
Starting with fewer than 50 armed madrassah students, the movement spread throughout Afghanistan by taking on corrupt warlords and cracking down on the widespread practice of ‘bacha bazi’, a form of child sex slavery.
It ruled the country as the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan from September 1996 until December 2001, with Kandahar as the capital, until the U.S.-led invasion in 2001. Now it leads the resistance to the occupation.
‘There is nothing, absolutely nothing, which prepares you for the Taliban’s brutality,’ Mr Sarwar said.