Ex-intelligence chief Saraj warns of extremism in Pakistan’s madrasas

The former chief of Afghanistan’s intelligence agency, Ahmad Zia Saraj, has claimed that 2.5 million to three million people are enrolled in madrasas in Pakistan.

In a recent interview with the Combating Terrorism Center, Saraj highlighted the significant role these religious schools play in fostering terrorism in Afghanistan and the broader region.

Saraj emphasized that the madrasas are producing an ample number of fighters, enough to readily replace those lost on the battlefield. He noted that many young students in these institutions are being indoctrinated into an extremist version of Islam.

“Even if we assume that only 10 to 20 percent of those in the madrasas are indoctrinated, we are talking about 300,000 to 600,000 individuals. This is a significant issue not only for Afghanistan but for the entire region,” Saraj said.

The former intelligence chief warned that the existence of these madrasas, which propagate extremist ideologies, poses a global threat. “Most participants are taught a radical version of the religion that often contradicts the true values of Islam,” he stated.

Ahmad Zia Saraj served as the General Director of the National Directorate of Security (NDS) under President Ashraf Ghani from September 2019 until the fall of Kabul on August 15, 2021. He is currently a visiting professor at the Department of War Studies at King’s College London, according to the Combating Terrorism Center.