Pashtun, Islamic fundamentalist group that ruled Afghanistan from 1996 until 2001 he Taliban is a predominantly , when a U.S.-led invasion toppled the regime for providing refuge to al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden. The Taliban regrouped across the border in Pakistan and has led an insurgency against the U.S.-backed government in Kabul for more than eighteen years.
History and Rise of Taliban
- The Taliban was formed in the early 1990s by Afghan mujahideen, or Islamic guerilla fighters, who had resisted the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan (1979–89) with the covert backing of the CIA and its Pakistani counterpart, the Inter-Services Intelligence directorate (ISI).
- They were joined by younger Pashtun tribesmen who studied in Pakistani madrassas, or seminaries; taliban is Pashto for “students.”
- Pashtuns comprise a plurality in Afghanistan and are the predominant ethnic group in much of the country’s south and east. They are also a major ethnic group in Pakistan’s north and west.
- The Taliban entered Kandahar in November 1994 to pacify the crime-ridden southern city, and by September 1996 seized the capital, Kabul, from President Burhanuddin Rabbani, an ethnic Tajik whom it viewed as anti-Pashtun and corrupt.
- That year, the Taliban declared Afghanistan an Islamic emirate, with Mullah Mohammed Omar, a cleric and veteran of the anti-Soviet resistance, leading as amir al-mu’minin, or “commander of the faithful.”
- The regime controlled some 90% of the country before its 2001 overthrow.
- The Taliban imposed a harsh brand of justice as it consolidated territorial control.
- Taliban jurisprudence was drawn from the Pashtuns’ pre-Islamic tribal code and interpretations of sharia influenced by the Wahhabi doctrine.
- The regime was internationally isolated from its inception. Only Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Pakistan recognized the government.
- Two UN Security Council resolutions passed in 1998 urged the Taliban to end its abusive treatment of women. The following year the council imposed sanctions on the regime for harboring al-Qaeda.
- After al-Qaeda operatives attacked the United States on September 11, 2001, Omar rejected U.S. demands that he give up bin Laden.
- U.S. forces invaded Afghanistan in October 2001, and the Taliban was quickly overthrown.
- The Taliban waged an insurgency against the U.S.-backed Afghan government. The group is now under investigation in the International Criminal Court for alleged abuses of Afghan civilians, including crimes against humanity.