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Taliban Origins

     The Taliban is an organization that was mainly formed by Pashtun
nationalism, with the intent of maintaining justice. As an Islamic group, the
rules that they live by are defined by Sharia, the source of Islamic law. This
cause is founded by the belief of Jihad, the Islamic holy war, as defined in the
Quran. The Taliban still is active to this day, trying to bring what they see as
justice to the Middle East.

The Mujahideen:

    Although a group first went under the name of Taliban in the
90’s, the mujahideen (people involved in jihad) movement began at the time of the
Soviet-Afghan war, which although not directly related to the Taliban, fought
for a similar cause which led to the group’s emergence. During the war, the
president of Pakistan, Zia ul-Haq, selected seven mujahideen parties to receive
military supplies from various countries. In 1985, a few years after the
beginning of the war, the US supplied these groups with even more weapons. As
more and more soviet casualties took place, Gorbachev put in place a 10 month
plan to withdraw troops from Afghanistan. After this, there was little action
from the mujahideen until 1992, when fighting started between different factions
in Kabul, the country’s capital. 

Student Soldiers:

    With the country full of warring mujahedin groups in 1994,
Pakistan’s premier Intelligence agency, ISI, supported an unknown student
movement in an attempt to gain some power over the land. This movement was a
group of religious students known as the Taliban, and they were led by Mullah
Mohammad Omar to invade Kandahar, a province in southern Afghanistan. Mullah
Mohammed Omar (also referred to as simply Mullah Omar) led the students, but it
is the two men who ran the seminary that are seen as the fathers of the Taliban.
Their names are Maulana Sami ul Haq and Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam. This obscure
militia received their weapons from the warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, who was a
former military commander and a key figure in the Afghan civil war. This help
allowed the group to become powerful enough to only lose only a few dozen men in
the invasion, and later on this would aid Hekmatyar in rising to the position of
Prime Minister. This is recognized as the first major military action of the

The Taliban’s Invasion:

    Over the next three months after the October invasion of
Kandahar in 1994, this group of religious students took over 12 of Afghanistan’s
34 provinces. Pakistan continued to support the Taliban at this time as an
attempt to conquer Afghanistan in the 90’s. This partnership was helpful to the
Taliban, and in 1996, the Taliban took total control over Kabul, hanged Mohammed
Najibullah (a former president of Afghanistan), and declared Afghanistan to be a
totally Islamic state. 

After the Capture of Kabul:

     Although the Taliban was causing quite an uproar in the mid
90’s, it wasn’t until later on that a much larger impact was made on America and
other western countries. It was in 1998 that Osama bin-Laden, a very influential
leader with connections to the Taliban, called on his fellow Muslims to “kill
the Americans and their allies – civilian and military” (Griffin, XV). This
caught western attention, and after failed peace talks later that year the US
posted a $5 million reward in exchange for any information that could lead to
the capture of bin-Laden. The Taliban responded by announcing that they would
put bin-Laden on trial themselves in Afghanistan. Needless to say, Osama
bin-Laden was found innocent by the end of the month. The Taliban continued to
conquer more provinces in Afghanistan and grow stronger until the attack on the
World Trade Center on September 11th, 2001, which has become
infamous. The Taliban in Afghanistan was taken over in Operation Enduring
Freedom which followed the 9/11 attacks, and slowly built up again in
neighboring Pakistan. The Taliban now operate in Afghanistan again as well as
northwest Pakistan, with most of their attacks comprising of attacks against the
civilian population.


Gohari, M. J. The Taliban: Ascent to Power. Oxford: Oxford UP,
2002. Print.

Griffin, Michael.
Reaping the Whirlwind: the Taliban Movement in 
. London: Pluto, 2001. Print.

Rashid, Ahmed.
Taliban: Militant Islam, Oil, and Fundamentalism in 
Central Asia
. New Haven: Yale UP, 2000. Print.