(Afghan protesters gesture towards police in Kabul February 24, 2012. REUTERS/Ahmad Masood)

Matihullah, 24, had always dreamed of becoming a lawyer. Then news spread that Western soldiers had burned many copies of the Muslim holy book at a NATO base in Afghanistan. He gave up his studies and embarked on a new mission in life — to become a suicide bomber.

“Since the desecration and burnings of holy books of the Koran, I have been burning with the desire of revenge. It is running in my blood,” said Matihullah, wearing the traditional white skull cap worn by many Afghans. “I have two other brothers to take care of our family and I feel very proud to get my revenge.”

The desecration of the Korans, which the United described as unintentional, triggered widespread protests in which 30 people were killed. Afghan security forces turned their weapons on American soldiers. Two senior U.S. officers were shot dead at their desks in the heart of the Interior Ministry by what Afghan security officials said was a police intelligence officer, stunning NATO and the Kabul government.

The incident also raised the possibility that Afghanistan could see more suicide bombings — one of the Taliban’s most effective weapons — by those who have concluded that is the only way justice can be served.