Ironically, the mainly Arab and Pakistani al-Qa'ida fighters who are so venerated in death by the people of Khowst were widely hated when they were alive and living in the town. They were Osama bin Laden's men, jihadis who had arrived from all over the Islamic world to prepare for a holy war in Khowst's terrorist training camps. The camps were handy for Pakistan, an hour's journey away with its connections to the outside world, but the foreign fighters never had much support in the area, which was always ambivalent about the Taliban, unlike some other Pushtun towns.
Some of the fighters may have escaped death in the cruise missile strikes ordered by Bill Clinton in 1998 after the US embassy bombings in east Africa; many must have personally known Bin Laden, who had a base in the town. But local people remembered them mainly as strutting and arrogant, a superior clique who didn't disguise their contempt for Afghan culture, which they saw as a decayed form of Islam riddled with superstition...
...Ironically the strict Wahabi Arabs buried at Khowst and the other shrines were opposed to Afghan burial customs they considered idolatrous. One of the reasons they were so hated in Afghanistan was their habit of tearing down flags and decorations on Afghan graves in fits of iconoclasm.
They would surely have hated to think that, in death, with an obsession for jihadis, they would be invested with magical powers and be prayed to by the superstitious tribesmen they looked down on in life.
When they talk about fearing a "resurgence of fundamentalism", they're referring to the kind of Islam practiced by Wahhabis and the Taliban, right? So how exactly does the popularity of a practice (veneration of shrines) that is absolutely abhorred by the fundamentalist groups indicate a "resurgence of fundamentalism"? It may indicate that there's a resurgence in traditionalist Islam in Afghanistan, or that there's a rapprochement between traditionalist and fundamentalist groups. But I'm not not quite seeing how it indicates a "resurgence in fundamentalism". [Al-Muhajabah's Islamic Blogs]
It's interesting that the Arabs were going around tearing down decorations on graves. I've read the same thing about the Arabs who went to Bosnia.