Young Taliban fighters in Afghanistan have abandoned the austere look of their predecessors in favour of trendier clothes complete with sunglasses, stylish trainers and baseball caps branded with the Taliban flag.
During the Taliban’s first stint in power – from 1996 until 2001 – their fighters were known for their hirsute and severe appearance, with the traditional dress worn with a full beard.
But today’s fighters – who have been ironically dubbed ‘Taliban 2.0’ for their media charm offensive and empty claims of taking a more progressive view of women – have adopted a far more modern, westernised way of dress, even as they crack down on western influence in the country.
Photographs taken in Kabul in recent days show Taliban fighters wearing aviator sunglasses, baseball caps and merchandise adorned with the Taliban flag. Some are even clean-shaven, abandoning the beard that is required under strict Islamic law.
They brazenly pose at check-points, on street corners and maraud down the middle of the road in intimidating groups as they continue to cement their power in the capital of Kabul.
It has led social media users to mock the fighters as ‘avant-garde’ fashion victims working with ‘designers’ to create their looks.
Young Taliban fighters have been called out for their hypocrisy as they parade through the streets in sunglasses, trendy trainers and baseball caps while cracking down on western dress
Two young men wear their Taliban branded hats attached to their jackets as they keep watch at a check post in Kabul
A Taliban fighter wears his traditional dress with a pair of combat boots and a hat printed with the Taliban flag
Photographs taken in the capital in the last few days have shown fighters wearing aviator sunglasses, baseball caps and merchandise adorned with the Taliban flag
One fighter appeared to be wearing heeled loafers (right) while others wore colourful ensembles (left)
Some are even clean-shaven, abandoning the beard that is required under strict Islamic law
Two Taliban fighters on the back of a truck, wearing their traditional dress in a laid-back style
During the Taliban’s first stint in power – from 1996 until 2001 – their fighters were known for their hirsute and severe appearance. Pictured, former senior Taliban members after the announcement of their defection during a press conference in Islamabad in December 2001
One commented: ‘Looks like the Taliban have also hired a fashion designer to dress them. They’re showing all signs of super villains. As everyone has failed, there’s only one man left to do the job @AustinPowers.’
Another added: ‘Is this a Talib or someone who escaped from a Paris avant-garde catwalk?’ One added: ‘Really loving the latest Taliban fashion trends.’
The comments have been seen as a form of protest from people around the world who want to undermine the terror group as they continue their crackdown on Afghanistan.
In photographs taken in the capital in recent days, fighters can be seen wearing traditional shalwar kameez in bright and colourful fabrics.
Many have paired the garment with trendy trainers while others have worn baseball caps and scarves adorned with the Taliban flag instead of a traditional turban.
Fighters wearing sunglasses and trainers walk down the middle of a Kabul road in intimidating groups as they continue to cement their power in the capital
Young fighters happily pose for the camera as they make their way through Kabul in a vehicle
Local men (left, right) pose with a Taliban fighter (second from left) in Pul-e-Khumri last week
Some Taliban fighters wear their traditional shalwar kameez in bright shades of blue
The young fighters, who have been dubbed ‘Taliban 2.0’ are sporting a more modern look
In one photograph shared on Twitter, a fighter can be seen wearing aviator sunglasses, with a bandana tied around his head, and wearing a full length orange robe.
The shift is particularly striking in a city known for its embrace of fashion and a western-style of dress.
Just days ago, a journalist Clarissa Ward gave her report with her hair and neck uncovered, but on Monday, she wore a black shawl wrapped tightly around her head as per the Islamists’ demands.
Ward was surrounded by fighters after the Afghan capital fell to the terrorists who the U.S. and Nato fought for two decades after the 9/11 attacks.
Her change in style comes after a stunningly swift end to Afghanistan’s 20-year war, as thousands of people mobbed the city’s airport trying to flee the group’s feared hardline brand of Islamist rule.
A young Taliban fighter sits inside an Afghan National Army (ANA) vehicle along the roadside in Laghman province
Some wore piece of clothing adorned with the Taliban flag (left), while others wore bright and colourful shalwar kameez (right)
Social media users have taken to Twitter in their droves to mock the Taliban fighters, with one joking they ‘looked like they have hired a fashion designer to dress them’
It comes as the ‘moderate’ Taliban started tarring alleged thieves and strapping them to trucks to be paraded through Kabul, fired at crowds trying to escape to the US-controlled airport and going house-to-house to round up looters.
The so-called ‘Angels of Salvation’ are dragging suspected robbers from their homes and lining the up against the walls with guns trained at them after looting broke out across Kabul after the Taliban toppled the government.
Footage shows an alleged car thief with his face covered in black tar and strapped up to the back of a truck, with his hands tied behind his back as people gather around to gawp.
Defiant social media users have been mocking the Taliban for their outfits, with many suggesting they ‘looked like hippies’
A traffic cop stands nearby and waves through traffic, seemingly unperturbed or unable to prevent the rough justice as commotion builds around the accused man.
Other footage shows Taliban fighters outside Kabul airport wielding AK-47s and rocket launchers, marching towards the terrified crowds and firing warning shots into the air.
Their brutal repression has been recounted by a 21-year-old woman who was working as a teacher in Kandahar before it fell. She described how she had fled to Kabul but now lived in fear that the Taliban will soon come knocking on her door.
She told Radio 4: ‘When the Taliban attacked and captured Kandahar we were unable to live anymore, because of the shooting, the bombing and the killing of innocent civilians.
Meanwhile Zabihullah Mujahid, a spokesman, claimed on Tuesday ‘there is a huge difference between us and the Taliban of 20 years ago’ – when female Afghans were beaten in the street or publicly executed, denied work, healthcare and an education, and barred from leaving home without a male chaperone.
But despite his claims video emerged today showing terrified women at the gates to Kabul airport pleading with US troops to let them through, wailing: ‘The Taliban are coming.’
The women were seen reaching their hands through iron railings towards the soldiers while screaming in the video which was shared widely on Afghan social media accounts this morning.
Taliban gunmen have now surrounded the airport – the only route out of Afghanistan for thousands of refugees stranded in the capital and nearby provinces – and are checking the documents of those trying to reach it.
Islamist fighters were funnelling people towards a gate on the airport’s civilian south side, demanding documents before occasionally allowing someone to pass.
Each time the gate opened, dozens tried to rush inside – with gunshots fired to keep them back.