MIRANSHAH, PAKISTAN—Admitting he has “mellowed out a bit” with age, 54-year-old militant jihadist Adil Jalal Kalmati confided to reporters Wednesday that he now finds himself far less enraged by Western culture than he did in his younger days as a religious extremist.
The veteran Taliban insurgent confirmed that while he still strictly and unflinchingly follows the tenets of Sharia law, he gets less worked up than he used to whenever someone expresses a personal value that could be seen to clash in any way with the fundamentalist practice of Sunni Islam.
“In my youth, I was pretty quick to fly off the handle at the mere mention of Western clothing, music, food, ideas—anything,” said Kalmati, explaining that once he entered his 50s, he no longer felt the same intense compulsion to savagely beat any man who dared to shave his beard. “Thirty years ago, seeing a woman who wasn’t covered head to toe in a burka would drive me mad. I’d follow her home, find out where she lives, and come back the next day to throw acid in her face. Nowadays, I’m more likely to just shake my head and go on with my day. I don’t blow a gasket like I used to.”
“Do I still want to unleash ceaseless death and destruction upon the infidels in the name of Allah?” he added. “Absolutely. But I’ve learned to pick my battles.”
Kalmati explained to reporters that as he’s grown older, he’s begun to realize that life is too short to spend an entire day disemboweling a teacher for the offense of educating girls, or publicly flogging a woman seen walking with a man who isn’t a relative—things he has reportedly done in the past without hesitation.
Now that he’s reached middle age, the Islamist operative said, he is also less inclined to react violently when coming across Pashtuns who embrace elements of American culture, a far cry from when he was younger and once shot the entire staff of a local movie theater execution-style for screening a Hollywood film.
“There comes a point when you realize you can’t just furiously obsess over every little transgression of your literal interpretation of the Prophet’s teachings—otherwise, you’ll just be miserable all the time,” said Kalmati, pointing to past instances in which he “got very heated, admittedly” and dragged men accused of homosexuality into the streets, stripped them naked, and stoned them to death. “Many years ago, I kidnapped and beheaded a journalist with a group of older mujahideen who hardly seemed to take any pleasure in the act at all. I remember thinking, ‘I’ll never be like that.’ But now that I’m their age, I completely get where they were coming from.”
“I’m a bit more laid-back these days, and it takes a lot to get me riled up enough to pack a car full of explosives and remotely detonate it in a crowded urban bazaar,” he continued. “It still happens every once in a while, but not as often as it used to.”
While acknowledging that the thought of male doctors treating female patients will still, on occasion, cause him to erupt in a fit of anger and burn down a public hospital, Kalmati explained that he now focuses more time and energy on his personal hobbies, which include cooking and photography.
The aging zealot stressed that his desire to cleanse the world of all infidels—even if it means massacring fellow Muslims who aren’t strictly devout or who practice Shi’a Islam—remains as strong as ever. But he noted he is far happier now that his entire emotional state no longer revolves solely around that end.
“You get married, you have a few kids, and eventually you realize you no longer want to go out at night to ransack a Christian bookstore and slit the owner’s throat in front of his family,” Kalmati said. “But that’s okay.”
“When you look at the kinds of things the young jihadists are doing today, you realize the torch has been passed,” he added. “What they’re doing goes way beyond anything we ever even dreamed of.”