Via NBC News:

The Taliban’s destruction of the Bamiyan Buddha statues in early 2001 shocked the world and highlighted their hard-line regime, toppled soon after in a U.S.-led invasion.

Now back in charge of Afghanistan and eager to present a softer image, the militant group is running the site as a tourist attraction.

For around $5, curious visitors can wander around and take photos of the giant holes in the cliff face where the ancient Buddha statues once stood.

Under a white Taliban flag, soldiers man a booth and write out admission tickets.

Sidiq Ullah, who is a supporter of the militant group, came to see the historic site this week with friends from Kandahar, around 350 miles southwest of Bamiyan. Now that the Taliban are in control, he said, he feels free to tour the country.

“I was young when these were destroyed, about 7 years old, and since then it has been a dream to come and see what happened here,” he said.

“I’m happy it was destroyed. I’m here to see the ruins actually.”

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