SHARE

Your guess is as good as ours on why, but video circulating on YouTube and other social channels appears to show AK-47-armed Taliban security forces patrolling busy streets in Kabul on rollerblades.

In a 22-minute video posted to YouTube, a squad of what appears to be Taliban soldiers or security troops patrol through the streets of Kabul, with several of them skating alongside the trucks and “skitching” — skateboard parlance for grabbing a moving vehicle to be pulled along, ala Marty McFly.

The convoy of at least two pickup trucks converted into so-called technicals, or gun trucks, rolls with a police-like siren blaring, though it’s not clear if the siren is part of the original audio. The video also has lots of campaign-style music.

The video was posted by a YouTuber who describes himself as a parkour athlete in Kabul, and though obviously filmed as part of official duties, the group is clearly enjoying themselves. Nearly everyone on the truck who isn’t skating is filming with a phone, including several leaning out the windows. One of the skaters is wearing civilian-style headphones and he is seen at least once pulling out his phone as if changing the song on a playlist.

One element of the video might feel familiar to U.S. military vets. The skaters appear to be acting less as terror-spreading jihadis on wheels and more like their convoy’s rolling road guards. On open stretches, they grab a hold of their truck to skitch along, but as they approach intersections and traffic, they whip ahead in gaps between lanes to either stop cross traffic or force drivers to clear a path.

The group is kitted out with AK-47-style rifles and wearing camouflage uniforms on which several have attached the black and white velcro flags of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, the formal name of the government installed by the Taliban after the U.S. departure in 2021. The flags have a distinctive emblem of crossed swords and the Shahada, the Arabic wording of “There is no god but God and Muhammad is God’s messenger,” which is the core tenant of Islam.

Roller blades, it seems, are having a bit of a moment.

Of course, there’s the memorable rollerblading scene in the movie “Barbie,” and we’d like to think these rollerblading Taliban are all listening to that soundtrack through their aforementioned headphones (just imagine them belting out I’m just Ken! Anywhere else I’d be a ten! through the Kabul streets). Pakistani police also have rollerblading units, according to a Reuters report from 2021. Police in Paris are also planning on using rollerblades in the 2024 Olympics.

Police in Pakistan stood up a rollerblading unit in 2021, similiar to those already on patrol in Venice Beach, California. Screen cap from Reuters, Warner Bros.
Police in Pakistan stood up a rollerblading unit in 2021, similar to those already on patrol in Venice Beach, California. (Screen capture from Reuters, Warner Bros.)

Throughout the videos, the skaters comfortably control themselves using ‘t-stops’ and crossover skating while whipping each other back and forth using the speed of the truck — all signs of experienced skaters. One skater even flips his direction to face backward while holding onto the truck.

But regardless of the skill on display, one thing that veterans with time in Kabul will notice as they watch the skaters bob and weave at high speed on the tiny wheels: somebody has definitely fixed the roads.

Editors note: Despite their sweet rollerblading skills, the Taliban still aren’t Kenough.

The latest on Task & Purpose