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Taliban

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Taleban

(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 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, as at Kunduz in N Afghanistan in 2015, but could not always hold (or did not always choose to hold) territory they had won. Nonetheless, additional successes led by mid-2017 to effective Taliban control of roughly half the country. Since 2010 the Taliban have increasingly come to resemble a criminal organization in their dependence and focus on extortion, opium, morphine, and heroin production and trafficking, illegal mining, and the like. Most of the Taliban's funding now comes from the illegal drug trade.

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.

Bibliography

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

References in periodicals archive ?
Shortly after Iran announced the new war games, the Taleban said yesterday it had found the bodies of nine Iranian diplomats whose disappearance last month after a Taleban offensive in northern Afghanistan triggered an angry response from Tehran.
Neither has the meetings of senior-level officials from Afghanistan, Pakistan, China and the US been thrown open as yet to the Taleban.
As long as Taleban sympathizers, ideological masters and financiers are in the society who feel no shame in calling dead Taleban martyrs, who call them their "misguided brothers," who prevent governments from taking action against those sectarian seminaries providing recruits for suicide bombings, nothing will change in Pakistan.
The first is to stay the course: to spend the next year attacking the Taleban and training the Afghan Army and police, and to begin reducing the number of US troops in July 2011 only to the extent that conditions on the ground allow.
Implicit in such threats is the allegation that Pakistan's Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) agency, which created the Afghan Taleban, has been sheltering its leaders, either out of sympathy or for a day when foreign forces leave Afghanistan.
There is also talk that the Taleban has put a watch on Bin Laden to ensure he does not engage in any embarrassing actions.
According to local authorities, Iran is seeking to stop the influence of Islamic State (ISIS), and support to the Taleban has increased as a result in recent months.
Despite spending several billions of rupees on defense capabilities, Pakistan has struggled to cope up with the challenges presented by local Taleban militants.
Hours later, the Al Qaeda-linked Taleban took responsibility for the attack, saying it was revenge for killings of radical clerics by Shiites.
The first dismantling of the Taleban was a cakewalk.
Lindh, the so-called ``American Taleban'', will be sentenced for supplying services to the Taleban and carrying an explosive during commission of a felony.
Dozens of non-combatants have lost their lives in the Taleban bombings".