KABUL - Using Muslim scholars and the Noble Qur'an, Afghan security forces are carrying out a program to dissuade young men from carrying out suicide attacks in the Asian country.
You won't go to paradise, an elderly scholar told a group of would-be suicide bombers, Reuters reported.
Killing yourself and killing others is forbidden in Islam," added the scholar, as the men sit on chairs arranged in rows in a brightly lit room, pointing to pages in the holy Muslim book.
The new program was designed by Afghanistan's National Directorate Security, long reviled for abuse and torture of detainees.
Security officials at the directorate say they are trying to dissuade young Afghans from carrying out suicide attacks by teaching them the Noble Qur'an.
They also take the men to mosques in Kabul to show people praying peacefully and proving their instigators were wrong.
The new method was sort of brainwashing for those young men, said Lutfullah Mashal, chief spokesman of the NDS, which last week gave Reuters rare access to the prisoners under supervision.
We work with them psychologically, he said.
We show them movies and films of atrocities of the Taliban and we also take them to mosques to see thousands of worshippers.
During our interviews with them, we found that most of them do not know what they are doing. They are told false stories about Afghanistan, he added.
The Taliban, which ruled Afghanistan in the 1990s, are launching a guerilla warfare against US-led foreign troops, which invaded Afghanistan following the 9/11 attacks.
In the past two years, violence became at its worst across Afghanistan, with civilian and military casualties at record levels despite the presence of 150,000 foreign troops.
Suicide attacks, unknown in Afghanistan until 2004, have become particularly worrying as newly-minted government forces take control of security ahead of the withdrawal of most foreign combat troops in 2014.
They account for the highest number of deaths of civilians and military forces after roadside bombings.
The attacks have prompted authorities to fortify government buildings and foreign offices with rows upon rows of blast walls to stop the bombers.
Despite government attempts, some Afghan bombers did not change their hearts, blaming the US invasion and attacks on Islam and the Qur'an for driving those attacks.
"I wanted to blow them up, said Ahmad Zubair, 18, who was caught two weeks ago with a suicide-bomb vest in the eastern city of Jalalabad, near the Pakistani border, where he planned to attack US soldiers.
They have desecrated our holy book and made cartoons of our Prophet. As long as Americans are in Afghanistan, there will be suicide bombers," he added.
This year has been disastrous for relations between Afghans and US forces.
Last April, the Los Angeles Times published pictures showing US troops with dismembered bodies in Afghanistan in 2010.
In January, American soldiers were shown urinating at the dead bodies of Taliban fighters, sparking a storm of anger and condemnations from across the Muslim world.
US troops were also engulfed in another crisis after the burning of copies of the Noble Qur'an at a US military base near Kabul in February.
Protests at the Qur'an burning left at least 30 people dead and strained Afghanistan's relations with the US.