Siteseen Logo

The Taliban

George W Bush

The Taliban: Facts about the hard-line radical Islamic militia.

Definition and Summary of the The Taliban
Summary and definition:
The Taliban are a hard-line radical Islamic militia consisting of Sunni Muslim Pashtuns who lived primarily in Afghanistan and then Pakistan. The word 'Taliban' derives from an Arabic meaning "student" as the organization originated amongst students in the Pakistani-trained mujahideen (Muslim followers engaged in Jihad holy war) during the Soviet war in Afghanistan. The Taliban are closely allied to another Sunni fundamentalist movement, Al-Qaeda.

The Taliban developed an extreme and highly conservative interpretation of Islam and Islamic law to advance Islamic fundamentalism that seeks to impose Sharia law, including strict codes of behavior and the suppression of women's rights. The Taliban ruled large parts of Afghanistan as the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, with Kandahar as the capital,  for five years from September 1996 until December 2001 when it was overthrown by the American-led invasion of Afghanistan following the 9/11 attacks. The Taliban resistance continues to the present day.

Facts about The Taliban
The following fact sheet contains interesting facts and information on The Taliban.

The Taliban consists of a jihadist group of Sunni Muslims who practice Wahhabism, which is considered to be the most extreme form of Islam, the religion of Muslims.

The Taliban is an Islamic fundamentalist political movement that was primarily made up of members belonging to Pashtun tribes, the largest ethnic group in Afghanistan. The Taliban engage in terrorism against the civilian population of Afghanistan.

History: The 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan led to the emergence of different factions of anti-communist Muslim Afghan fighters who opposed the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. In 1980 the Soviets installed of a puppet regime in Kabul, the largest city and capital of Afghanistan.

History: By 1982, 2.8 million Afghans had fled from Afghanistan to Pakistan, and another 1.5 million had fled to Iran. During the Soviet-Afghan War the Insurgent groups ("the Mujahideen") received aid from the United States, Pakistan, Iran, China and Saudi Arabia.

History: In 1988 the radical Islamic group Al-Qaeda  encouraged jihad (holy war) by Muslims to help the Afghan Mujahideen fight the Soviets. The Soviet-Afghan War lasted over nine years and finally ended in February 1989 when the Soviets withdrew from Afghanistan.

History: A Muslim cleric called Mullah Mohammed Omar encouraged Islamic students to take up arms during the Soviet-Afghan War and founded the movement known as the Taliban. The word 'Taliban' derives from the Arabic word 'talib' meaning "student or pupil" as the group first originated amongst students in the Pakistani-trained mujahideen (Muslim followers engaged in Jihad holy war).

History: In 1992 Mujahideen forces, led by a powerful resistance leader called Ahmed Shah Massoud, the "Lion of Panjshir", ousted the Soviet-backed government of Mohammad Najibullah, sparking rivalry and fighting among militias to gain power in Afghanistan.

Most Taliban leaders were strongly influenced by Deobandi fundamentalism and 20% of Pakistan's Sunni Muslims consider themselves Deobandi and 70% of Madrasah (religious schools or colleges for the study of the Islamic religion) are run by Deobandis.

In 1994 Mullah Mohammed Omar became the supreme commander and the spiritual leader of the Afghan Taliban's supreme council, the Quetta Shura, that consisted of military commanders and madrassa teachers.

In September 1996 the Taliban, under the leadership of Mullah Muhammad Omar, seized control of Kabul, assumed power in 12 of the 34 Afghan provinces promising peace to the inhabitants.

The Taliban implemented and enforced a strict interpretation of Islamic (Sharia) law, stringent codes of behavior and the suppression of women's rights. Women caught breaking codes of conduct or dress codes were subjected to harsh public punishment.

Suppression of women's rights: Women were required to wear the all-covering burqa outer garment when they left home as part of the Islamic dress code, and windows needed to be covered so that women could not be seen from the outside. The dignity and chastity of women was sacrosanct. Forced marriages were the norm.

Suppression of women's rights: Women lacked equality with men, faced segregation and were banned from public life.

Suppression of women's rights: Women lacked equality with men and were banned from public life and females over the age of eight were denied access to education, than than studying the Quran.

Suppression of women's rights: Women were banned on radio, television or at public gatherings. Freedom of movement or travel was limited. A male chaperone, called a Mahram (non-marriageable man), was required accompany and guard women outside the home.

In 1996 Mullah Muhammad Omar offered backing and refuge for Al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden that led to the US-led campaign to oust the Taliban.

In 1998 Osama Bin Laden published a Fatwah against American civilians, and United States embassies in Kenya and Tanzania were bombed. Osama Bin Laden also made the chilling declaration that it was his Islamic duty to acquire weapons of mass destruction (WDM's) - nuclear, biological and chemical weapons - to overthrow apostate regimes throughout the Islamic world and to launch attacks on the United States and its allies in the western world.  Following the declarations and US embassy attacks, President Bill Clinton ordered cruise missile attacks against Osama Bin Ladenís training camps in Afghanistan.

In 2000 the United States demanded that Osama bin Laden be extradited from Afghanistan to stand trial for the US embassy bombings. The Taliban refuse the extradition request and the United Nations (UN) punished Afghanistan with sanctions restricting trade and economic development.

On September 11, 2001 members of Al Qaeda hijack four planes and flew them into the World Trade Center in New York, the Pentagon in Washington, and a field in Pennsylvania killing over 3000 people.

Days after the 9/11 terrorist attacks U.S. officials state that Osama bin Laden, believed to be hiding in Afghanistan, was the prime suspect in the attack and once again demand the extradition of Osama bin Laden.

The Taliban ignore the request and on October 7, 2001 combined U.S. and British forces launch air strikes against targets in Afghanistan and the War in Afghanistan begins. Kabul is captured on November 13, 2001 and the retreating Taliban fled south towards Kandahar.

On December 9, 2001, Taliban leaders surrender the province of Zabul, the groupís final territory in Afghanistan.

The Taliban insurgency, that had been promised during the Taliban's last days in power, began shortly after the group's fall from power following the 2001 War in Afghanistan.

The International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) was established and deployed in 2001, on the request for assistance by the Afghan authorities, and a United Nations (UN) Security Council issues a mandate to assist the Afghan government in the maintenance of security.

The Taliban immediately started to raise finances obtained from opium revenues. Before 2001 the Taliban suppressed opium production and Afghanistan produced only 11% of the world's opium. The insurgency encouraged the production of opium and Afghanistan now produces 93% of the global opium crop.

In 2002 the movement spread south into the neighboring country of Pakistan. However, the Pakistani Taliban is distinct, and not directly affiliated with the Afghan Taliban, having different history, structure and strategic goals, targeting elements of the Pakistani state. On occasions the two movements provide support for each other.

The Taliban insurgency,  joined by smaller Al Qaeda groups, uses terrorist attacks in which their victims are usually Afghan civilians who support the Afghan central government. Major bases of insurgents were created in the mountainous tribal areas of Pakistan by the summer of 2003.

The ISAF military mission in Afghanistan was a partnership between the 49 nations. On 11 August 2003 North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) assumed leadership of ISAF directing offensive operations and supporting the Afghan National Drug Control Strategy.

State-Sponsored Terrorists: Countries, particularly Pakistan and Iran, have been accused of funding and supporting the insurgent groups, secretly providing the Taliban with safe havens, money, training and weapons.

In 2009 President Barack Obama announced a new strategy for the Afghanistan war dispatching more US military to the country, in addition to the 17,000 more combat troops he had previously authorized.

On May 2, 2011 U.S. forces overtook a compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan and Al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden was killed - refer to the Death of Osama bin Laden.

After 13 years of conflict during the War in Afghanistan the United States and Britain officially ended their combat operation in Afghanistan on October 26, 2014 and NATO ended combat operations on December 28, 2014.

The unexpected resilience of the Taliban left insurgents in control of much of Afghanistan and President Obama announced that the US would delay its troop withdrawal and the 2015 war in Afghanistan began.

The Taliban and its affiliated insurgent groups are still deeply entrenched in Afghanistan and northwest Pakistan. New international jihadi groups, such as the Islamic State (IS) are also be trying to establish themselves in Afghanistan.

In 2016 the Taliban controls more territory in 2016 than when it was ousted from power in 2001.

US American History
1990 - Present: The Modern Era
War in Afghanistan
Islamic State (IS)

ⓒ 2017 Siteseen Limited

First Published

Cookies Policy


Updated 2018-01-01

Publisher Siteseen Limited

Privacy Statement