A Lot of Afghans Don't Know What Happened on 9/11

The Wall Street Journal finds that young men are only vaguely aware of the events

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There are a lot of Afghans who are unaware of the events of September 11th or explain away the terrorist attacks with conspiracy theories. That would be one takeaway of this morning's timely Wall Street Journal article that neatly encapsulates the unfortunate reality of the ongoing U.S. occupation of Afghanistan. Reporting anecdotally, Yaroslav Trofimov speaks to young men who respond with blank faces or seem only "vaguely aware" of what actually happened on that day. But then, as pointed to us by Foreign Policy's Blake Hounshell, the report gives some data to back up the assertion:

According to a survey of 15- to 30-year-old men in the two southern provinces where President Barack Obama sent the bulk of American surge troops, 92% of respondents said they didn't know about "this event which the foreigners call 9/11" after being read a three-paragraph description of the attacks.

Maybe the survey shouldn't be that surprising, especially since Trofimov notes that the educated, city dwellers and students do know about Sept 11th. But they seem to be in the minority. Put in another discouraging way: After nearly a decade of occupation, lots of young Afghan men don't have an accurate idea about the event that drove America to invade their country in the first place. Still, and to put the report into perspective a bit more, it was just a few months ago that we were noting that American teens had less familiarity with Osama bin Laden.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.