Not since that hottie Natalie Portman has
a freshman at Yale an ivy-league freshman created this much buzz. Meet 27-year-old former Taliban spokesperson Sayed Rahmatullah Hashemi:
The University of Yale has a freshman who is thankful to have landed up in the prestigious institution rather than the Guantanamo Bay prison.
Sayed Rahmatullah Hashemi, a former Taliban spokesperson, who has the dubious distinction of having come in contact with terror mastermind Osama bin Laden has joined a non-degree course, which includes a class on terrorism… Turned away initially from a Taliban office in Kandahar, Hashemi had offered his skills as a computer operator because of his “high proficiency in English”, the New York Times quoted the freshman as saying.
But later, adding a couple of years to his age, he was accepted and became a part of the hardline Islamic regime that also brought him in contact with 9/11 mastermind Laden.
“I saw bin Laden after he was brought to Kandahar in 1997,” Rahmatullah told the Times.
Hashemi fled Afghanistan for Pakistan after the September 11 bombings. [Link]
Hashemi has had a brief flash of fame once before. He appeared in Michael Moore’s film Fahrenheit 9/11:
As the chief spokes-terrorist for the Taliban, Hashemi traveled extensively throughout Europe and the United States. While speaking at the Atlantic Council in 2001, Hashemi was confronted with a woman who detailed the horrors facing the women of Afghanistan at the hands of the Taliban. He dismissed her as if she were an insolent child and announced to the woman: “I’m really sorry for your husband. He might have a very difficult time with you. Hashemi’s disgusting comments were immortalized in Michael Moore’s “Fahrenheit 911…” [Link]
p>Over a week ago the New York Times did a fantastic 12-page in-depth story on Hashemi (a must read article).
His room was more than he could afford, but he had his hands full with his classes: ENGL 114, Reading and Writing Argument, with Prof. Deborah Tenney; and PLSC 114, Introduction to Political Philosophy, with Prof. Peter Stillman. He got a pair of B’s, and B+’s on papers. (“B positives” he thought they were called.) Because his official education ended in the fourth grade, the marks eased some of his anxiety about passing muster at Yale. He spoke English well, but it was still his fourth language after Pashto, Urdu and Persian and a headache to write even for natives. What he had to learn initially was how to learn. You didn’t have to read everything the professors assigned, but you had to pay close attention to the closing minutes of class, when they recapped material likely to appear on the exam. People thought he was kidding when he asked what the difference was between a test and quiz. Dude, you’re a student at Yale, and you don’t know the difference between a test and a quiz?…
He did not like to dwell on the past, much less advertise it. To avoid alarming eavesdroppers, he referred to his former compatriots as “the Tangoes.” But sometimes the past had a way of finding him…
So rather than simply memorize the Koran all day every day, things at Yale would be a bit different.
As you can imagine, there are a LOT of people not happy that a “terrorist” has gotten admission to Yale:
Never has an article made me blink with astonishment as much as when I read in yesterday’s New York Times magazine that Sayed Rahmatullah Hashemi, former ambassador-at-large for the Taliban, is now studying at Yale on a U.S. student visa. This is taking the obsession that U.S. universities have with promoting diversity a bit too far.
Something is very wrong at our elite universities. Last week Larry Summers resigned as president of Harvard when it became clear he would lose a no-confidence vote held by politically correct faculty members furious at his efforts to allow ROTC on campus, his opposition to a drive to have Harvard divest itself of corporate investments in Israel, and his efforts to make professors work harder. Now Yale is giving a first-class education to an erstwhile high official in one of the most evil regimes of the latter half of the 20th century–the government that harbored the terrorists who attacked America on Sept. 11, 2001…
In the spring of 2001, I was one of several writers at The Wall Street Journal who interviewed Mr. Rahmatullah at our offices across the street from the World Trade Center…
As for Osama bin Laden, Mr. Rahmatullah called the Saudi fugitive a “guest” of his government and said it hadn’t been proved that bin Laden was linked to any terrorist acts, despite his indictment in the U.S. for planning the 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. [Link]
I think you got to give the guy a break. Sometimes people don’t appreciate how thoroughly one can be brainwashed. Maybe after having tasted freedom and opportunity in America it will change his perspective and he will return to Afghanistan someday to help improve society there. You have to hope at least. By the way, this was my favorite part of the Times article:
Over the next three weeks, [Mountaineer, cameraman, and filmmaker Mike] Hoover and Rahmatullah traveled around Taliban-controlled Afghanistan and formed a deep friendship. One night, a week or so into the trip, Hoover was sitting on the floor of the foreign office guest house in Kandahar, drinking tea as Rahmatullah and some other Taliban peeled potatoes and onions. Rahmatullah asked him a question.
“Do you believe people are related to dogs?”
Dogs are not favored in Afghan society; the question dared him to contradict common sense.
“Yes,” Hoover said.
The Taliban all laughed in amazement.
“How can you possibly believe that? We are so different.”
“You see only differences. I see similarities.”
“Similarities! Like what?”
Hoover wanted his first example to be an intellectual bunker buster, so he thought carefully.
“Bilateral symmetry,” he said. The laughter stopped, which pleased him.
“What does that mean?”
“It means dogs have eyes on either side of their nose, just like humans. Dogs have two nostrils, just like humans. They have two lungs. They have toenails. They have a heart in the center of their chest. Dog blood and human blood are indistinguishable.”
Recalling the exchange not long ago, Hoover said: “Now you could hear a pin drop — and it was a dirt floor. They were starting to get uneasy. There was a dog right outside. It was scraggly and covered with sores; I think the appropriate word for it would be ‘cur.’ When I finished laying out how they might be genetically related to the cur outside, they went off and started talking among themselves very intently. What they were discussing and what they wanted to understand was if what I was saying was true, would it fit within the teachings of the Koran. After a long time they came to the conclusion that it would…” [Link]