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(tälēbän`, –lə–), Islamic fundamentalist militia of Afghanistan and later Pakistan, originally consisting mainly of Sunni Pashtun religious students from Afghanistan who were educated and trained in Pakistan. The Taliban emerged as a significant force in Afghanistan in 1994 when they were assigned by Pakistan to protect a convoy in Afghanistan, which marked the beginning of a long-term alliance between the group and Pakistani security forces. The Taliban subsequently won control of Kandahar, and by 1996 they had gained control over much of Afghanistan, including Kabul, either by force or through forming alliances with other mujahidin.

The Taliban established a government headed by Mullah Muhammad OmarOmar, Mohammad,
1960?–2013?, Afghan religious and political leader popularly known as Mullah Omar. From a rural Pashtun family, he became a Muslim cleric. In the 1980s he joined the mujahidin fighting the Soviet occupation and lost his right eye in battle.
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, the group's spiritual leader (and a military leader as well) until his death c.2013. Although the civil war continued, mainly with the Northern Alliance in N Afghanistan, Taliban rule ended much of the factional fighting and corrupt rule that had afflicted Afghanistan after the collapse in 1992 of the Soviet-aligned government. The Taliban also rigidly enforced puritannical laws that were influenced by WahhabiWahhabi
or Wahabi
, reform movement in Islam, originating in Arabia; adherents of the movement usually refer to themselves as Muwahhidun [unitarians]. It was founded by Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahab (c.
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 Islam and Afghan tribal customs, and provided a refuge for Osama bin Ladenbin Laden, Osama or Usama
, 1957?–2011, Saudi-born leader of Al Qaeda, a terrorist organization devoted to uniting all Muslims and establishing a transnational, strict-fundamentalist Islamic state.
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's Al Qaeda and similar Islamic militant groups. Following the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks that Al Qaeda launched against the United States, the United States retaliated against Al Qaeda and the Taliban, providing support for a Northern Alliance offensive against the Taliban that led to their collapse and the entry of U.S. forces into Afghanistan. By Dec., 2001, the Taliban had surrendered their last urban stronghold, Kandahar, and they and Al Qaeda retreated into the mountains along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border or dispersed among the Pashtuns in Afghanistan and neighboring Pakistan.

The Taliban subsequently survived several U.S. and NATO campaigns intended to eliminate them as a significant guerrilla force. Aided by the renewed warlordism and corruption, by tribal Pashtun ties, and by a largely moribund Afghan economy, they reestablished training camps in Pakistan, mainly in North and South Waziristan and Baluchistan, and continued to draw students from religious schools there; they also were widely believed to receive support from Pakistan's security forces, despite denials by Pakistan.

By 2003 the Taliban were again mounting ongoing guerrilla attacks in Afghanistan, mainly against government supporters and forces, school teachers, and foreign troops and aid workers; they used suicide-bomber attacks. Several times the Taliban have gained control of S Afghanistan districts and towns in larger operations, though by 2014 the Taliban were less successful in battle and controlled only a few districts. They had greater success against Afghan forces after the withdrawal in 2014 of foreign combat troops, mounting a number of successful attacks, most notably at Kunduz in N Afghanistan in 2015, but could not always hold territory they had won. Since 2010 the Taliban have increasingly come to resemble a criminal organization in their dependence and focus on extortion, opium trafficking, illegal mining, and the like.

The Taliban's presence in Pakistan has led to the growth of a so-called Pakistani Taliban as well. Drawn mainly from Pakistan's ethnic Pashtuns and consisting of a number of loosely allied militias who also have split into factions at times, they have become an important militant force based primarily in Waziristan but with operations in other areas, seeking to establish a rigid, extremely conservative form of Islamic law and fighting at times with government troops. The Pakistani government has accused members of the Pakistani Taliban of assassinating (2007) Benazir BhuttoBhutto, Benazir
, 1953–2007, prime minister of Pakistan (1988–90; 1993–96), daughter of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. Educated at Radcliffe and Oxford, she returned to Pakistan shortly before her father was overthrown by General Zia ul-Haq in 1977.
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. In 2009 the Pakistani military conducted major offensives again the Taliban in Swat and South Waziristan. The Pakistani Taliban are believed to have been involved in plotting the 2010 attempted bombing of Times Square, New York City, and have trained foreign Islamists. A Pakistani government offense was mounted again the group in North Waziristan in 2014, leading to murderous revenge attack against a Peshawar school. Also in Pakistan are the groups known as Punjabi Taliban; these draw their membership mainly from the Sunnis of Punjab prov.


See studies by A. Rashid (rev. ed. 2010) and P. Bergen and K. Tiedemann (2013).

References in periodicals archive ?
It has imposed itself as the most powerful subversive movement one that has been tremendously successful at accomplishing what it set out to do and that is posing a serious challenge to other militant organisations from the Taleban to Hamas, says Fawaz Gerges, a professor of contemporary Middle Eastern studies at the London School of Economics and Political Science.
The Pakistani society has resolved that since the Taleban has removed their mask by killing dozens of innocent school children, there is no need for more evidence.
Firefights often last around 15 or 20 minutes as the Taleban know how long it takes for troops to call in helicopter gun ships or mortar barrages.
In recent weeks, the Iranian media has been filled with denunciations of the talks with the Taleban.
The more the US and Nato forces kill and destroy Taleban, the more they seem to grow, multiplying like those zombie soldiers in the Hollywood productions, The Mummy II and III.
The Taleban do however want the Ariana aircraft returned and have sent USD40,000 to Britain in order to have the aircraft repaired so that it can be flown back to Afghanistan.
The Taleban militia, which controls 90 per cent of Afghanistan, admitted killing eight diplomats on September 10 and a journalist for the Islamic Republic News Agency after its forces captured the northern city of Mazar- e-Sharif.
The British contingent as part of the US-led military coalition in the war on terror in Afghanistan was deployed in 2001 and the Bastion Camp, constructed in 2006, had been used to house some 10,000 troops to fight Taleban and Al-Qaeda operatives.
Summary: An Afghan peace process meeting was held here, as Qatar moves to open a Taleban office in Doha.
Claims from Afghanistan's Taleban leadership that the movement is trying to minimise civilian casualties do not match the group's actions, Amnesty International said today.
30 (ANI): Afghanistan former spymaster has warned that the country risks fracturing along bloody ethnic lines if President Hamid Karzai continues misguided efforts to reach out to the Taleban.
In the hours before Prince Harry was pulled out of Afghanistan, self-proclaimed al-Qaeda supporters were urging the Taleban in internet postings to hunt down and kill him.