When the Taliban captured the city of Herat on August 12, Yasin and his colleagues speculated that it would not be long before the Taliban invading forces took their own city, Mazar-i-Sharif.
“It was also more tense in Mazar, so me and other computers” kars of Mazar who work together held a secret meeting to decide what to do to protect all of our content, ”he says. Including the informal association of computers kars had hundreds of terabytes of data collected over several years, many of which were considered controversial – even criminal – by the Taliban.
“We all agreed not to delete the more nefarious content but to hide it,” he says. “We argued that these regimes come and go frequently in Afghanistan, but our business should not be disrupted.”
He’s not too worried about being discovered.
“People hide guns, money, jewelry and so on, so I’m not afraid to hide my hard drives. You will never be able to find it [them], “he says.” I’m a 21st century boy and most of the Taliban live in the past. “
Less than 20 years after former President Hamid Karzai’s first cell phone call in Afghanistan, there are nearly 23 million cell phone users in a country of fewer than 39 million people. Internet access is a different matter, however: there were fewer than 9 million internet users in early 2021, a delay largely due to widespread physical security issues, high costs, and poor infrastructure development in the country’s mountainous terrain.
Therefore computers kars like Yasin can now be found all over Afghanistan. Although they sometimes download their information from the Internet when they can establish a connection, they physically transport a large part of it on hard drives from neighboring countries – the so-called “sneakernet”.
“I use the WiFi at home to download music and applications; I also have five SIM cards for the internet, ”says Mohibullah, another kar who asked not to be identified by his real name. “But the connection here isn’t reliable, so I send a 4 terabyte hard drive to Jalalabad every month and they fill it with content and return it in a week with the latest Indian movies or Turkish TV dramas, music and applications. “For which he pays between 800 and 1,000 Afghanis ($ 8.75 to $ 11).
“People hide guns, money, jewelry and so on, so I’m not afraid to hide my hard drives. I’m a 21st century boy and most of the Taliban live in the past.”
Mohammad Yasin, computer car
Mohibullah says he can install more than 5 gigabytes of data on a phone – including movies, songs, music videos, and even class lessons – for just 100 afghanis, or $ 1.09. “I have the latest Hollywood and Bollywood films dubbed in Dari and Pashto [Afghan national languages]”Music from all over the world, games, applications,” he told me in early August, days before the Taliban took power.
For a little more, Mohibullah helps clients create social media accounts, set up their phones and laptops, and even write emails for them. “I sell everything – A to Z content. Everything but ‘100% movies,'” he said, referring to pornography. (He later admitted that he had some “free videos,” another nickname for porn that he only sells to trusted customers.)