The tactics used by the Taliban are shockingly simple. Dozens of so-called “night letters,” which are affixed to the doors of schools in the dead of night, are piled on Muqim Halimi’s huge desk. Halimi is the commissioner of education for the Kunduz province and a crowd of men are waiting outside his office, most of them hoping to be able to bribe their way into good grades for their children. But when Halimi hears that a German reporter wants to talk about the closure of the girls’ schools, he clears the room so he can talk undisturbed.
After confirming the closures, he reads aloud from the Taliban night letters, as simply formulated as they are explicit. “As of today,” he reads from a message from Aqtash, “girls are no longer allowed to attend school.” The letter is marked with a logo of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan — in English, yet another indication of just how well organized the Taliban are in the German area of operation.