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The term Taliban comes from Pashto, which is the native language of an estimated 55% of Afghanistan's people, according to Unesco, and it literally means "students." Today, the term "Taliban" refers to a feared Islamic group that is reclaiming control of Afghanistan. Mullah Mohammad Omar is the Taliban's one-eyed founder. 

The ‘movement,' which began with 50 students in September 1994 and gradually grew in size, was founded by Mullah Mohammad Umar. The number of fighters in the group is currently estimated to be around 200,000.

A US-led military coalition started strikes in Afghanistan on October 7, 2001, and the Taliban administration fell apart by the first week of December. Despite one of the world's biggest manhunts, the group's then-leader, Mullah Mohammad Omar, and other top leaders, including Bin Laden, escaped arrest.

Many top Taliban officials are said to have sought sanctuary in Quetta, Pakistan, from whence they led the Taliban. Islamabad, on the other hand, disputed the existence of the "Quetta Shura."

Despite increased foreign military numbers, the Taliban steadily recovered and then expanded their power in Afghanistan, leaving large swaths of the nation unstable and bloodshed returning to levels not seen before 2001.

There have been many Taliban attacks in Kabul, including a high-profile raid on Nato's Camp Bastion stronghold in September 2012.

In 2013, the Taliban announced plans to build an office in Qatar, raising hopes for a negotiated settlement. However, mistrust remained strong on both sides, and the bloodshed continued.

Following the overthrow of the Soviet-backed government in Afghanistan, the Taliban rose to prominence as a result of their strongly religious principles, recruiting followers from madrasas both within the country and in neighboring countries.

The Taliban wants to implement Sharia law in Afghanistan, based on the Hanafi school of Islamic jurisprudence. Until the American military struck in 2001, the militia controlled the majority of Afghanistan between 1996 and 2001.

Following the 9/11 attacks in the United States, the Taliban faced international condemnation, with most countries - except Pakistan - withdrawing recognition of the Afghan government. A month later, American troops entered the country and began bombing Taliban and Al-Qaeda camps, kicking off a war that has lasted until now.

With American troops leaving the country in 2021, the Taliban flooded back into the streets, capturing the majority of the country, with President Ashraf Ghani fleeing the country on August 15, leaving the militia in charge by default.

The Taliban confessed in August 2015 that they had covered up Mullah Omar's death for more than two years, allegedly due to health issues at a Pakistani hospital. The following month, the organization said that it had put weeks of infighting behind them and united around Mullah Mansour, who had previously served as Mullah Omar's deputy.

The Taliban appeared to alter their tactics from sophisticated strikes in cities and on military outposts to a wave of targeted killings that terrorized Afghan people in the year following the US-Taliban peace accord of February 2020, which was the culmination of a protracted period of direct negotiations.

The Taliban's targets - journalists, judges, peace advocates, and powerful women - showed that the Taliban's extreme philosophy had not altered, only their method.

Despite grave concerns from Afghan officials about the government's vulnerability to the Taliban without international support, Joe Biden, the new US president, announced in April 2021 that all American forces would leave the country by September 11th, exactly two decades after the World Trade Center was attacked.

Written By: Olivium's Editor


  • Edwards, D. B. (2002). Before Taliban. University of California Press.
  • Johnson, R. (2021). The Taliban and the modern history of Afghanistan. In Routledge Handbook of US Counterterrorism and Irregular Warfare Operations (pp. 134-147). Routledge.
  • Akbarzadeh, S., & Ibrahimi, N. (2020). The Taliban: a new proxy for Iran in Afghanistan?. Third World Quarterly, 41(5), 764-782.
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