|War:||the Civil war in Afghanistan, the War in Afghanistan (2001-present) and the Waziristan War|
|Leaders:||Mullah Mohammed Omar|
Mullah Obaidullah Akhund (captured)
|Ideology:||Islamic fundamentalism and |
|Active:||since September 1994|
|Area:||Afghanistan and Pakistan|
|Strength:||7,000 to 11,000 (2008 est.)|
|Previous:||Mujahideen groups in the Soviet war in Afghanistan|
Islamic Emirate of Waziristan
Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan
Inter Services Intelligence Pakistan
|International:||Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, United Arab Emirates (before 11 September attacks)|
|Opponents:||United States Armed Forces|
British Armed Forces
Military of Afghanistan
Military of Pakistan
ISAF (led by NATO)
Operation Enduring Freedom Allies
The Taliban (Pushto; Pashto: '''طالبان''' , also anglicised as Taleban; translation: "students") is a Sunni Islamist, predominately Pashtun Islamic terrorist movement that governed Afghanistan from 1996 until 2001, when its leaders were removed from power by Northern Alliance and NATO forces.It has regrouped and since 2004 revived as a strong insurgency movement  fighting a guerrilla war against the current government of Afghanistan, allied NATO forces participating in Operation Enduring Freedom, and the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). It operates in Afghanistan and the Frontier Tribal Areas of Pakistan.
The Taliban movement is headed by Mullah Mohammed Omar. Mullah Omar's original commanders were "a mixture of former small-unit military commanders and Madrasah teachers," and the rank and file made up mostly of Afghan refugees who had studied at Islamic religious schools in Pakistan. The overwhelming majority of the Taliban movement were ethnic Pashtuns from southern Afghanistan and western Pakistan, along with a smaller number of volunteers from Islamic countries or regions in North Africa, the Middle East and the former Soviet Union. The Taliban received valuable training, supplies and arms from the Pakistani government, particularly the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), and many recruits from Madrasahs for Afghan refugees in Pakistan, primarily ones established by the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam JUI.
Although in control of Afghanistan's capital (Kabul) and much or most of the country for five years, the Taliban regime, or "Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan," gained diplomatic recognition from only three states: Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.
The Taliban implements the "strictest interpretation of Sharia law ever seen in the Muslim world"  including the complete ban of education for girls   and is widely criticized internationally for its treatment of women. .
The word Taliban is derived from talib, in turn from the Pashto Pushto; Pashto: طالبان , " students," loaned from Arabic Arabic: طالب , plus the Indo-Iranian plural ending -an Pushto; Pashto: ان (the Arabic plural being Arabic: طلاب , Arabic: طالبان being a dual form with the incongruous meaning, to Arabic speakers, of 'two students'). Since becoming a loanword in English, Taliban, besides a plural noun referring to the group, has also been used as a singular noun referring to an individual. For example, John Walker Lindh has been referred to as "an American Taliban" rather than "an American Talib."
The Taliban initially enjoyed enormous good will from Afghans weary of the corruption, brutality, and incessant fighting of Mujahideen warlords. Two contrasting narratives explain the beginnings of the Taliban. One is that the rape and murder of boys and girls from a family traveling to Kandahar or a similar outrage by Mujahideen bandits sparked Mullah Omar and his students to vow to rid Afghanistan of these criminals. The other is that the Pakistan-based truck shipping mafia known as the "Afghanistan Transit Trade" and their allies in the Pakistan government, trained, armed, and financed the Taliban to clear the southern road across Afghanistan to the Central Asian Republics of extortionate bandit gangs.
Alhough there is no evidence that the CIA directly supported the Taliban or Al Qaeda, some basis for military support of the Taliban was provided when, in the early 1980s, the CIA and the ISI (Pakistan's Interservices Intelligence Agency) provided arms to Afghans resisting the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, and the ISI assisted the process of gathering radical Muslims from around the world to fight against the Soviets. Osama Bin Laden was one of the key players in organizing training camps for the foreign Muslim volunteers. The U.S. poured funds and arms into Afghanistan, and "by 1987, 65,000 tons of U.S.-made weapons and ammunition a year were entering the war."
The first major military activity of the Taliban was in October-November 1994 when they marched from Maiwand in southern Afghanistan to capture Kandahar City and the surrounding provinces, losing only a few dozen men. Starting with the capture of a border crossing and a huge ammunition dump from warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, a few weeks later they freed "a convoy trying to open a trade route from Pakistan to Central Asia" from another group of warlords attempting to extort money. In the next three months this hitherto "unknown force" took control of twelve of Afghanistan's 34 provinces, with Mujahideen warlords often surrendering to them without a fight and the "heavily armed population" giving up their weapons. By September 1996 they had captured Afghanistan's capital, Kabul.
The Taliban's extremely strict and "anti-modern" ideology has been described as an "innovative form of sharia combining Pashtun tribal codes," or Pashtunwali, with radical Deobandi interpretations of Islam favored by members of the Pakistani fundamentalist Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI) organization and its splinter groups. Also contributing to the admixture was the Wahhabism of their Saudi financial benefactors, and the jihadism and pan-Islamism of sometime comrade-in-arms Osama bin Laden. Their ideology was a departure from the Islamism of the anti-Soviet mujahideen rulers they replaced who tended to be mystical Sufis, traditionalists, or radical Islamicists inspired by the Ikhwan.Rashid,Taliban, (2000), p.87
Sharia law was interpreted to ban a wide variety of activities hitherto lawful in Afghanistan, see below. Critics complained that most Afghans were non-Pashtuns who followed a different, less strict and less intrusive interpretation of Islam. Despite their similarity to the Wahhabis, the Taliban did not eschew all traditional popular practices. They did not destroy the graves of pirs (holy men) and emphasized dreams as a means of revelation.
Taliban have been described as both anti-nationalist and Pushtun nationalist. According to journalist Ahmed Rashid, at least in the first years of their rule, they followed Deobandi and Islamist anti-nationalist belief and opposed "tribal and feudal structures," eliminating traditional tribal or feudal leaders from "leadership roles." According to Ali A. Jalali and Mr. Lester W. Grau, the Taliban "received extensive support from Pashtuns across the country who thought that the movement might restore their national dominance. Even Pashtun intellectuals in the West, who seriously differ with the Taliban on many issues, expressed support for the movement on purely ethnic grounds."
In any case, the Taliban were very reluctant to share power, and since their ranks were overwhelmingly Pashtun the spread of their rule to non-Pashtun areas of Afghanistan meant Pashtun rule over non-Pashtuns. At the national level, "all senior Tajik, Uzbek and Hazara bureaucrats" were replaced "with Pashtuns, whether qualified or not. As a result of this loss of expertise, the ministries by and large ceased to function." In local units of government like city councils of Kabul or Herat, Taliban loyalists, not locals, dominated, even when the Pashto-speaking Taliban could not communicate with the local Persian-speaking Afghans (roughly half of the population of Afghanistan spoke Dari or other non-Pashtun tongues.) Critics complained this "lack of local representation in urban administration made the Taliban appear as an occupying force."
Like Wahhabi and other Deobandis, the Taliban strongly opposed the Shia branch of Islam. The Taliban declared the Hazara ethnic group, which totaled almost 10% of Afghanistan's population, "not Muslims."
Along with being very strict, the Taliban were adverse to debate on doctrine with other Muslims. "The Taliban did not allow even Muslim reporters to question [their] edicts or to discuss interpretations of the Qur'an."
As they established their power the Taliban created a new form of Islamic radicalism that spread beyond the borders of Afghanistan, mostly to Pakistan. By 1998-1999 Taliban-style groups in the Pashtun belt, and to an extent in Pakistan-administered Kashmir, "were banning TV and videos ... and forcing people, particularly women to adapt to the Taliban dress code and way of life."
The Sharia does not allow politics or political parties. That is why we give no salaries to officials or soldiers, just food, clothes, shoes and weapons. We want to live a life like the Prophet lived 1400 years ago and jihad is our right. We want to recreate the time of the Prophet and we are only carrying out what the Afghan people have wanted for the past 14 years.
Instead of an election, their leader's legitimacy came from "Bay'ah" or oath of allegiance in imitation of the Prophet and early Muslims. On 4 April 1996, Mullah Omar had the "the Cloak of the Prophet Mohammed," taken from its shrine "for the first time in 60 years." Wrapping himself in the relic, he appeared on the roof of a building in the center of Kandahar while hundreds of Pashtun mullahs below shouted "Amir al-Mu'minin!" (Commander of the Faithful), in a de facto pledge of support.
Also in keeping with the governance of early Muslims was a lack of state institutions or "a methodology for command and control" standard today internationally even among non-Westernized states. The Taliban didn't issue "press releases, policy statements or hold regular press conferences," and of course the outside world and most Afghans didn't even know what they looked like, since photography was banned. Their regular army resembled "a lashkar or traditional tribal militia force" with only 25,000 to 30,000 men, these being added to as the need arose. Cabinet ministers and deputies were mullahs with a "madrassa education." Several of them, such as the Minister of Health and Governor of the State bank, were primarily military commanders who left their administrative posts to fight when needed. If and when military reverses trapped them behind lines or led to their deaths, this created "even greater chaos" in the national administration. In the Ministry of Finance there was no budget or "qualified economist or banker." Cash to finance Taliban war effort was collected and dispersed by Mullah Omar without book-keeping.
In 1997, the Taliban and Unocal had meetings in Texas to negotiate arrangements for CentGas to build a gas pipeline from Turkmenistan to Pakistan. Reportedly, a deal was struck but later failed. The cause of the failure was rumored to be competing negotiations with Bridas, an Argentinian company.
The Taliban ideology was not static. Before its capture of Kabul, members of the Taliban talked about stepping aside once a government of "good Muslims" took power and law and order were restored. The decision making process of the Taliban in Kandahar was modeled on the Pashtun tribal council (jirga), together with what was believed to be the early Islamic model. Discussion was followed by a building of a consensus by the believers.
However, as the Taliban's power grew, decisions were made by Mullah Omar without consulting the jirga and without Omar's visiting other parts of the country. He visited the capital, Kabul, only twice while in power. Taliban spokesman Mullah Wakil explained:
Decisions are based on the advice of the Amir-ul Momineen. For us consultation is not necessary. We believe that this is in line with the Sharia. We abide by the Amir's view even if he alone takes this view. There will not be a head of state. Instead there will be an Amir al-Mu'minin. Mullah Omar will be the highest authority and the government will not be able to implement any decision to which he does not agree. General elections are incompatible with Sharia and therefore we reject them.
In 1999, Omar issued a decree stating the Buddha statues at Bamyan would be protected because Afghanistan had no Buddhists, implying idolatry would not be a problem. But in March 2001 they were destroyed after the previous decision was reversed with a decree stating that "all the statues around Afghanistan must be destroyed."
The Taliban were criticized for their strictness toward those who disobeyed the (Bid‘ah) rule. Some Muslims complained that many Taliban prohibitions - such as bans on clapping during sports events; kite flying; beard trimming; or sports for women - had no validity in the Qur'an or sharia. Another source of objection was that the Taliban called their 20% tax on truckloads of opium "zakat," when zakat is limited to 2.5% of the zakat-payers' disposable income.
The bestowing of the title of Amir al-Mu'minin on Muhammad Omar was criticized on the grounds that he lacked scholarly learning, tribal pedigree, or connections to the Prophet's family. Sanction for the title required the support of all of the country's ulema, whereas only some 1200 Pashtun Taliban-supporting Mullahs had declared Omar the Amir. "No Afghan had adopted the title since 1834, when King Dost Mohammed Khan assumed the title before he declared jihad against the Sikh kingdom in Peshawar. But Dost Mohammed was fighting foreigners, while Omar had declared jihad against other Afghans."
Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI) was important to the Taliban because the "vast majority" of its rank and file and most of the leadership, (though not Mullah Omar), were Koranic students who had studied at madrassas set up for Afghan refugees, usually by the JUI. The leader of JUI, Maulana Fazal-ur-Rehman, was a political ally of Benazir Bhutto. After Bhutto became prime minister, Rehman "had access to the government, the army and the ISI," whom he influenced to help the Taliban.
Journalist Ahmed Rashid suggests that the devastation and hardship of the war against the Soviet Union and the civil war that followed was another factor influencing the ideology of the Taliban. The young rank and file Taliban were Koranic students in Afghan refugee camps whose teachers were often "barely literate," and did not include scholars learned in the finer points of Islamic law and history. The refugee students, brought up in a totally male society, not only had no education in mathematics, science, history or geography, but also had no traditional skills of farming, herding, or handicraft-making, nor even knowledge of their tribal and clan lineages.
In such an environment, war meant employment, peace unemployment. Domination of women was an affirmation of manhood. For their leadership rigid fundamentalism was a matter not merely of principle, but of political survival. Taliban leaders "repeatedly told" Rashid "that if they gave women greater freedom or a chance to go to school, they would lose the support of their rank and file."
Sharia law was interpreted to ban a wide variety of activities hitherto lawful in Afghanistan: employment, education and sports for women, movies, television, videos, music, dancing, hanging pictures in homes, clapping during sports events, kite flying, and beard trimming. One Taliban list of prohibitions included:
pork, pig, pig oil, anything made from human hair, satellite dishes, cinematography, and equipment that produces the joy of music, pool tables, chess, masks, alcohol, tapes, computers, VCRs, television, anything that propagates sex and is full of music, wine, lobster, nail polish, firecrackers, statues, sewing catalogs, pictures, Christmas cards.Amy Waldman, `No TV, no Chess, No Kites: Taliban's Code, from A to Z,` New York Times, 22 November 2001
Men were required to have a beard extending farther than a fist clamped at the base of the chin. On the other hand, they had to wear their head hair short. Men were also required to wear a head covering.
Possession was forbidden of depictions of living things, including photographs of them, stuffed animals, and dolls. These rules were issued by the Ministry for the Promotion of Virtue and Suppression of Vice (PVSV) and enforced by its "religious police," a concept thought to be borrowed from the Wahhabis. In newly conquered towns hundreds of religious police beat offenders — typically men who shaved and women who were not wearing their burqa properly — with long sticks.
Theft was punished by the amputation of a hand, rape and murder by public execution. Married adulterers were stoned to death. In Kabul, punishments were carried out in front of crowds in the city's former soccer stadium.
See main article: Taliban treatment of women. Women in particular were targets of the Taliban's restrictions. They were prohibited from working; from wearing clothing regarded as "stimulating and attractive," including the "Iranian chador," (viewed as insufficiently complete in its covering); from taking a taxi without a "close male relative"; washing clothes in streams; or having their measurements taken by tailors.
Employment for women was restricted to the medical sector, since male medical personnel were not allowed to examine women. One result of the banning of employment of women by the Taliban was the closing down in places like Kabul of primary schools not only for girls but for boys, because almost all the teachers there were women.
Women were also not permitted to attend co-educational schools; in practice, this prevented the vast majority of young women and girls in Afghanistan from receiving even a primary education.
Women were made to wear the burqa, a traditional dress covering the entire body except for a small screen to see out of. Taliban restrictions became more severe after they took control of the capital. In February 1998, religious police forced all women off the streets of Kabul and issued new regulations ordering "householders to blacken their windows, so women would not be visible from the outside." Home schools for girls, which had been allowed to continue, were forbidden. In June 1998, the Taliban stopped all women from attending general hospitals, leaving the use of one all-women hospital in Kabul. There were many reports of Muslim women being beaten by the Taliban for violating their version of the Sharia.
Movie theaters were closed and music banned. Hundreds of cultural artifacts that were deemed polytheistic were also destroyed including major museum and countless private art collections. At the Kabul zoo most animals were killed or left to starve.
A sample Taliban edict issued after their capture of Kabul is one decreed in December 1996 by the "General Presidency of Amr Bil Maruf and Nahi Anil Munkar" (or Religious Police) banning a variety of things and activities: music, shaving of beards, keeping of pigeons, flying kites, displaying of pictures or portraits, western hairstyles, music and dancing at weddings, gambling, "sorcery," and not praying at prayer times. In February 2001, Taliban used sledgehammers to destroy representational works of art at the National Museum of Afghanistan.
Non-Western festivities were not exempt from bannings. The Taliban banned the traditional Afghan New Year's celebration of Nowruz as anti-Islamic, and "for a time they also banned Ashura, the Shia Islamic month of mourning and even restricted any show of festivity at Eid." The Afghan people were not allowed to have any cultural celebrations if the women were there. If there were only men at the celebration it would be allowed to go forth, so long as it did not go over the curfew time of 9:00 pm.
Taliban official Mullah Mohammed Hassan explained that "of course we realize that people need some entertainment but they can go to the parks and see the flowers, and from this they will learn about Islam." The Education Minister Mullahs Abdul Hanifi told questioners that the Taliban "oppose music because it creates a strain in the mind and hampers study of Islam."
See main article: Buddhas of Bamiyan.
In March 2001, the Taliban ordered the demolition of two statues of Buddhas carved into cliffsides at Bamiyan, one 38 metres (125 ft) tall and built in CE 507, the other 53 metres (174 ft) tall and built in CE 554. The act was condemned by UNESCO and many countries around the world.
The intentions of the destruction remain unclear. Mullah Omar initially supported the preservation of Afghanistan's heritage, and Japan linked financial aid to the preservation of the statues. However, after a few years, a decree was issued claiming all representations of humans and idols, including those in museums, must be destroyed in accordance with Islamic law which prohibits any form of idol worship.
The government of Pakistan (itself host to one of the richest and most ancient collections of Buddhist art) implored the Taliban to spare the statues. Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates later denounced the act as savage.
Sayed Rahmatullah Hashemi, a senior representative of the Taliban designated as the roving Ambassador visited the US in March, 2001. He represented the Taliban's action not as an act of irrationality, but as an act of rage over UNESCO and some western governments denying the Taliban use of the funds intended for the repairs of the war-damaged statues of the Buddha. He contended that the Taliban intended to use the money for drought relief.
The worst attack on civilians came in summer of 1998 when the Taliban swept north from Herat to the predominantly Hazara and Uzbek city of Mazar-i-Sharif, the largest city in the north. Entering at 10 am on 8 August 1998, for the next two days the Taliban drove their pickup trucks "up and down the narrow streets of Mazar-i-Sharif shooting to the left and right and killing everything that moved — shop owners, cart pullers, women and children shoppers and even goats and donkeys." More than 8000 noncombatants were reported killed in Mazar-i-Sharif and later in Bamiyan. Contrary to the injunctions of Islam, which demands immediate burial, the Taliban forbade anyone to bury the corpses for the first six days while they rotted in the summer heat and were eaten by dogs. In addition to this indiscriminate slaughter, the Taliban sought out and massacred members of the Hazara, a mostly Shia ethnic group, while in control of Mazar.
While the slaughter can be attributed to several factors — ethnic difference, suspicion of Hazara loyalty to their co-religionists in Iran, fury at the loss of life suffered in an earlier unsuccessful Taliban takeover of Mazar — the belief by some Sunni Taliban that the Shia Hazaras were guilty of takfir (apostasy) may have been the principal motivation. It was expressed by Mullah Niazi, the commander of the attack and governor of Mazar after the attack, in his declaration from Mazar's central mosque:
"Last year you rebelled against us and killed us. From all your homes you shot at us. Now we are here to deal with you. The Hazaras are not Muslims and now have to kill Hazaras. You either accept to be Muslims or leave Afghanistan. Wherever you go we will catch you. If you go up we will pull you down by your feet; if you hide below, we will pull you up by your hair."
Hazara also suffered a siege by the Taliban of their Hazarajat homeland in central Afghanistan and the refusal by the Taliban to allow the UN to supply food to Hazara in the provinces of Bamiyan, Ghor, Wardak and Ghazni. A month after the Mazar slaughter, Taliban broke through Hazar lines and took over Hazarajat. The number of civilians killed was not as great as in Mazar, but occurred nevertheless.
Peace did not bring economic development to Afghanistan. The so-called "transportation mafia" operating out of Pakistan "cut down millions of acres of timber in Afghanistan for the Pakistani market, denuding the countryside as there was no reforestation. They stripped down rusting factories, ... even electricity and telephone poles for their steel and sold the scrap to steel mills in Lahore."
The Taliban have provided an Islamic sanction for farmers ... to grow even more opium, even though the Koran forbids Muslims from producing or imbibing intoxicants. Abdul Rashid, the head of the Taliban's anti-drugs control force in Kandahar, spelled out the nature of his unique job. He is authorized to impose a strict ban on the growing of hashish, "because it is consumed by Afghans and Muslims." But, Rashid told me without a hint of sarcasm, "Opium is permissible because it is consumed by kafirs in the West and not by Muslims or Afghans."
But in 2000 the Taliban banned opium production, a first in Afghan history. In 2000, Afghanistan's opium production still accounted for 75% of the world's supply. On 27 July 2000, the Taliban again issued a decree banning opium poppy cultivation. According to opioids.com, by February 2001, production had been reduced from 12600acres to only 17 acres. When the Taliban entered north Waziristan in 2003 they immediately banned poppy cultivation and punished those who sold it.
Another source claims opium production was cut back by the Taliban not to prevent its use but to shore up its price, and thus increase the income of poppy farmers and revenue of Afghan tax collectors.
The official verdict of the Taliban however was otherwise. Mullah Amir Mohammed Haqqani, the Taliban's top drug official in Nangarhar, said the ban would remain regardless of whether the Taliban received aid or international recognition. "It is our decree that there will be no poppy cultivation. It is banned forever in this country," he said. "Whether we get assistance or not, poppy growing will never be allowed again in our country."
However, with the 2001 US/Northern Alliance expulsion of the Taliban, opium cultivation has increased in the southern provinces liberated from the Taliban control, and by 2005 production was 87% of the world's opium supply, rising to 90% in 2006.
Hashemi also detailed this in his March 2001 lecture in California.
See main article: Taliban conscription. According to the testimony of Guantanamo captives before their Combatant Status Review Tribunals, the Taliban, in addition to conscripting men to serve as soldiers, also conscripted men to staff its civil service.
See main article: Afghan Civil War (1996-2001). Taliban's strict policies and condescending behavior toward their local allied troops caused an uprising in which thousands of the Taliban's best troops were killed.
In 1997, Ahmad Shah Massoud devised a plan to utilize guerrilla tactics in the Shamali plains to defeat the Taliban advances. In collaboration with the locals, Masoud had deployed his forces to be stationed at civilian dwellings and other hidden places. Upon the arrival of the Taliban, some locals, who had vowed pacts of peace with the Taliban, as well as Masoud's forces came out of hiding and in a surprise attack captured the north of Kabul. Soon after, the Taliban put a major effort into taking control of the Shamali plains, indiscriminately killing young men, uprooting and expelling the population. Kamal Hossein, a special reporter for the UN, had written a full report on these and other war crimes that further insinuated and inflamed the issue of ethnicity.
In 8 August 1998 the Taliban again took Mazar-i-Sharif this time avenging their earlier defeat and creating more international controversy with mass killings of thousands of civilians and several Iranian diplomats. This offensive left the Northern Alliance in control of only a small part of Afghanistan (10-15%) in the north. The Taliban retained control of most of the country until the 2001 9/11 attacks. On 9 September 2001, a suicide bomber, posing as an interviewer and widely thought to be connected to Al-Qaeda, assassinated the Northern Alliance mujahideen military leader Ahmad Shah Massoud. Despite his removal, the Taliban were driven from most of Afghanistan by American bombing and Northern Alliance ground troops a couple of months later in the 2001 War.
During its time in power, the Taliban regime, or "Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan," gained diplomatic recognition from only three states: the United Arab Emirates, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia all of whom also provided aid. Most states in the world, including Russia, Iran, India, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan, and later the USA, opposed the Taliban and aided their enemy the Northern Alliance.
Officially Pakistan denied it was supporting the Taliban, but its support was substantial -- one year's aid (1997/1998) was an estimated US$30 million in wheat, diesel, petroleum and kerosene fuel, and other supplies.
In early August 1998 the Taliban's difficulties in relations with foreign groups became much more serious. After attacking the city of Mazar, Taliban forces killed several thousand civilians and 10 Iranian diplomats and intelligence officers in the Iranian consulate. Alleged radio intercepts indicate Mullah Omar personally approved the killings. The Iranian government was incensed and a "full-blown regional crisis" ensued with Iran mobilizing 200,000 regular troops, though war was averted.
A day before the capture of Mazar, affiliates of Taliban guest Osama bin Laden bombed two U.S. embassies in Africa killing 224 and wounding 4500 mostly African victims. The United States responded by launching cruise missiles attacks on suspected terrorists camps in Afghanistan killing over 20 though failing to kill bin Laden or even many al-Qaeda. Mullah Omar condemned the missile attack and American President Bill Clinton. Saudi Arabia expelled the Taliban envoy in Saudi Arabia in protest over the Taliban's refusal to turn over bin Laden and after Mullah Omar allegedly insulted the Saudi royal family. In mid-October the UN Security Council voted unanimously to ban commercial aircraft flights to and from Afghanistan and freeze its bank accounts world wide.
India was one of the most outspoken critics of the Taliban-regime in Afghanistan. Ahmad Shah Masood, who led the operations of the Northern Alliance against Taliban, was particularly noted for his closeness to India. In December 1999, Indian Airlines Flight 814 enroute from Kathmandu to Delhi was hijacked and taken to Kandahar, Afghanistan. The Taliban moved in its troops near the hijacked aircraft supposedly to prevent Indian special forces from storming the aircraft and also stalled the negotiations between India and the hijackers for days. The New York Times later reported of credible links between the hijackers and the Taliban. As a part of the deal between the hijackers and the Indian government, India released three Islamist militants so as to secure the release of all the hostages on-board the Indian Airlines plane. The Taliban gave a safe passage to the hijackers and the three released militants. The links between Osama bin Laden, the hijackers and the militants released was also reported in Indian media. Following the hijacking, India drastically increased its efforts to help the Northern Alliance in its operations against the Taliban. An arms depot for the Northern Alliance was setup by India in Dushanbe, Turkmenistan. India also provided Northern Alliance a wide range of high-altitude warfare equipment, helicopter technicians, medical services and tactical advice.
The regime's isolation grew in March 2001 with the destruction of Afghanistan's most significant archeological treasures, the 1500-year-old giant Buddha statues, (the two largest were 55 and 37 meters high) in Bamiyan. That month the Taliban also issued a decree ordering non-Muslims to wear distinctive yellow patches.
A major issue during the Taliban's reign was its relations with the United Nations (UN) and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Twenty years of continuous warfare, first with the Soviets and then between mujahideen, had devastated Afghanistan's infrastructure and economy. There was no running water, little electricity, few telephones, motorable roads or regular energy supplies. Basic necessities like water, food and housing and others were in desperately short supply. In addition, the clan and family structure that provided Afghans with a social/economic safety net was also badly damaged. Afghanistan's infant mortality was the highest in the world. A full quarter of all children died before they reached their fifth birthday, a rate several times higher than most other developing countries.
Consequently international charitable and/or development organisations (NGOs) were extremely important to the supply of food, employment, reconstruction, and other services in Afghanistan. With one million plus deaths during the years of war, the number of families headed by widows had reached 98,000 by 1998. Thus Taliban restrictions on women were sometime a matter not only of human rights, but of life and death. In Kabul, where vast portions of the city had been devastated from rocket attacks, more than half of its 1.2 million people benefited in some way from NGO charity, even for water to drink. The civil war and its refugee-creation processes continued during the entire time the Taliban were in power. During that time, more than three-quarters of a million civilians were displaced by new Taliban offensives in the north around Mazar, on the Herat front, and in the fertile Shomali valley around Kabul. The offensives used "scorched-earth" tactics to prevent civilians from supplying the enemy with aid.
Despite the receipt of UN and NGO aid, the Taliban's attitude toward the UN and NGOs was often one of suspicion, not gratitude or even tolerance. The UN operates on the basis of international law, not Islamic Sharia, and the UN did not recognize the Taliban as the legitimate government of Afghanistan. Additionally, most of the foreign donors and aid workers, who had tried to persuade the Taliban to change its strict policies and allow women more freedom, were non-Muslims.
As the Taliban's Attorney General Maulvi Jalil-ullah Maulvizada expressed it:
Let us state what sort of education the UN wants. This is a big infidel policy which gives such obscene freedom to women which would lead to adultery and herald the destruction of Islam. In any Islamic country where adultery becomes common, that country is destroyed and enters the domination of the infidels because their men become like women and women cannot defend themselves. Anyone who talks to us should do so within Islam's framework. The Holy Koran cannot adjust itself to other people's requirements, people should adjust themselves to the requirements of the Holy Koran.
Frustrations of aid agencies were numerous. Taliban decision-makers, particularly Mullah Omar, seldom if ever talked directly to non-Muslim foreigners, so aid providers had to deal with intermediaries whose approvals and agreements were often reversed by Taliban higher-ups. In September 1997, the European Commissioner for Humanitarian Affairs, Emma Bonino, and 19 Western journalists and aid workers were arrested and held for three hours by the Taliban religious police in Kabul when photographs were taken of women patients. Around the same time the heads of three UN agencies in Kandahar were expelled from the country after protesting that a female lawyer for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) was forced to talk to Taliban officials from behind a curtain so her face would not be visible.
When the UN increased the number of Muslim women staff to satisfy Taliban demands for Muslim staff, the Taliban then insisted "all female Muslim UN staff traveling to Afghanistan to be chaperoned by a mahram or a blood relative." In 20 July 1998, the Taliban closed "down all NGO offices by force" after those organization refused to move to a bombed out former Polytechnic College as ordered. One month later the UN offices were also shut down.
As food prices rose and conditions deteriorated, the Taliban Planning Minister Qari Din Mohammed explained the Taliban's indifference to the loss of humanitarian aid:
We Muslims believe God the Almighty will feed everybody one way or another. If the foreign NGOs leave then it is their decision. We have not expelled them.
In 1996, Osama bin Laden moved to Afghanistan from Sudan. He came without any invitation from the Taliban, and sometimes irritated Mullah Omar with his declaration of war and fatwa to murder citizens of third-party countries, and follow-up interviews, but relations between the two groups became closer over time, and eventually bonded to the point where Mullah Omar rebuffed its patron Saudi Arabia, insulting Saudi minister Prince Turki and refusing to turn over bin Laden to the Saudis as Omar had reportedly promised to earlier.
Bin Laden was able to forge an alliance between the Taliban and his Al-Qaeda organization. It is understood that al-Qaeda-trained fighters known as the 055 Brigade were integrated with the Taliban army between 1997 and 2001. Several hundred Arab Afghan fighters sent by bin Laden assisted the Taliban in the slaughter at Mazar-e-Sharif. Taliban-al-Qaeda connections, were also strengthened by the reported marriage of one of bin Laden's sons to Omar's daughter. During Osama bin Laden's stay in Afghanistan, he may have helped finance the Taliban.  Perhaps the biggest favor al-Qaeda did for the Taliban was the assassination by suicide bombing of the Taliban's most effective military opponent mujahideen commander and Northern Alliance leader Ahmad Shah Massoud shortly before 9 September 2001. This came at a time when Taliban human rights violations and extremism seemed likely to create international support for Massoud's group as the legitimate representatives of Afghanistan. The killing, reportedly handled by Ayman Zawahiri and the Egyptian Islamic Jihad wing of al-Qaeda, left the Northern Alliance leaderless, and removed "the last obstacle to the Taliban’s total control of the country ..." After the 1998 U.S. embassy bombings in Africa, Osama bin Laden and several al Qaeda members were indicted in U.S. criminal court. The Taliban protected Osama bin Laden from extradition requests by the U.S., variously claiming that bin Laden had "gone missing" in Afghanistan, or that Washington "cannot provide any evidence or any proof" that bin Laden is involved in terrorist activities and that "without any evidence, bin Laden is a man without sin... he is a free man."  Evidence against bin Laden included courtroom testimony and satellite phone records.  Bin Laden in turn, praised the Taliban as the "only Islamic government" in existence, and lauded Mullah Omar for his destruction of idols like the Buddhas of Bamiyan.
See main article: Islamic Emirate of Waziristan.
See also: War in North-West Pakistan and Wana conflict. Closely tied with JUI party in Pakistan, the Taliban received manpower from Madrasahs in Pakistan’s border region. After a request for help from Mullah Omar in 1997, Maulana Samiul Haq shut down his 2500+ student madrassa and "sent his entire student" body hundreds of miles away to fight alongside the Taliban. The next year, the same religious leader helped persuade 12 madrassas in Pakistan's North-West Frontier Province to shut down for one month and send 8000 students to provide reinforcements for the Taliban army in Afghanistan.
The Taliban returned the favor, helping spread its ideology to parts of Pakistan. By 1998 some groups "along the Pashtun belt" were banning TV and videos, imposing Sharia punishments "such as stoning and amputation in defiance of the legal system, killing Pakistani Shia and forcing people, particularly women to adapt to the Taliban dress code and way of life." In December 1998 the Tehrik-i-Tuleba or Movement of Taliban in the Orakzai Agency ignored Pakistan’s legal process and publicly executed a murderer in front of 2000 spectators Taliban-style. They also promised to implement Taliban-style justice and ban TV, music and videos. In Quetta, Pashtun pro-Taliban groups "burned down cinema houses, shot video shop owners, smashed satellite dishes and drove women off the streets". In Kashmir Afghan Arabs from Afghanistan attempted to impose a "Wahhabi style dress code" banning jeans and jackets. "On 15 February 1999, they shot and wounded three Kashmiri cable television operators for relaying Western satellite broadcasts."
As of early 2007, Taliban influence in Pakistan continues in conjunction with the Taliban insurgency. Citing a suicide bombing of a restaurant in Peshwar in retaliation for the arrest of a relative of Taliban commander Mullah Dadullah, the Associated Press states "... in Pakistan's frontier regions, ... scores of people have been executed over the past two or three years apparently for being too aligned with the Pakistani government or America — allies in the U.S.-led war on terrorism."
See main article: War in Afghanistan (2001–present).
- Deliver to the US all of the leaders of Al Qaeda;
- Release all imprisoned foreign nationals;
- Close immediately every terrorist training camp;
- Hand over every terrorist and their supporters to appropriate authorities;
- Give the United States full access to terrorist training camps for inspection.
On 21 September 2001, the Taliban responded that if the United States could bring evidence that bin Laden was guilty, they would hand him over, stating there was no evidence in their possession linking him to the 11 September attacks.
On 22 September 2001, the United Arab Emirates, and later Saudi Arabia, withdrew recognition of the Taliban as the legal government of Afghanistan, leaving neighboring Pakistan as the only remaining country with diplomatic ties. On 4 October 2001, it is believed that the Taliban covertly offered to turn bin Laden over to Pakistan for trial in an international tribunal that operated according to Islamic Sharia law, but Pakistan refused the offer.  On 7 October 2001, before the onset of military operations, the Taliban ambassador to Pakistan offered to "detain bin Laden and try him under Islamic law" if the United States made a formal request and presented the Taliban with evidence. This counter offer was immediately rejected by the U.S. as insufficient.
Shortly afterward, on 7 October 2001, the United States, aided by the United Kingdom, Canada, and supported by a coalition of other countries including several from the NATO alliance, initiated military actions in Afghanistan, and bombed Taliban and Al Qaeda related camps.  CIA's elite Special Activities Division (SAD) units were the first US forces to enter Afghanistan. Their efforts organized the Afghan Northern Alliance for the subsequent arrival of US Special Operations forces. SAD, US Army Special Forces and the Northern Alliance combined to overthrow the Taliban in Afghanistan with minimal loss to Americans lives. They did this without the need for US military conventional forces. 
The Washington Post stated in an editorial by John Lehman in 2006:
What made the Afghan campaign a landmark in the U.S. Military's history is that it was prosecuted by Special Operations forces from all the services, along with Navy and Air Force tactical power, operations by the Afghan Northern Alliance and the CIA were equally important and fully integrated. No large Army or Marine force was employed. 
[The stated intent of military operations was to remove the Taliban from power because of the Taliban's refusal to hand over [[Osama bin Laden]] for his alleged involvement in the 11 September attacks, and disrupt the use of Afghanistan as a terrorist base of operations. On 14 October the Taliban offered to discuss handing over Osama bin Laden to a neutral country if the US halted bombing, but only if the Taliban were given evidence of Bin Laden's involvement in 9/11. The U.S. rejected this offer as an insufficient public relations ploy and continued military operations.
The ground war was fought mainly by the Northern Alliance, the remaining elements of the anti-Taliban forces which the Taliban had routed over the previous years but had never been able to entirely destroy. Mazari Sharif fell to U.S.-Northern Alliance forces on 9 November, leading to a cascade of provinces falling with minimal resistance, and many local forces switching loyalties from the Taliban to the Northern Alliance. On the night of 12 November, the Taliban retreated south from Kabul. On 15 November, they released eight Western aid workers after three months in captivity (see Attacks on humanitarian workers). By 13 November the Taliban had withdrawn from both Kabul and Jalalabad. Finally, in early December, the Taliban gave up their last city stronghold of Kandahar and dispersed in various directions.
See main article: Taliban insurgency.
As of 2008, the insurgency, in the form of a Taliban guerrilla war, continues. However, the Pashtun tribal group, with over 40 million members, has a long history of resistance to occupation forces in the region so the Taliban themselves may comprise only a part of the insurgency. Most of the post-invasion Taliban fighters are new recruits, drawn again from that region's madrassas. The more traditional village schools are the primary source of the new fighters. Before the summer 2006 offensive began, indications existed that Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan had lost influence and power to other groups, including potentially the Taliban. The most notable sign was the rioting in May after a street accident in the city of Kabul. The continued support from tribal and other groups in Pakistan, the drug trade and the small number of NATO forces, combined with the long history of resistance and isolation, led to the observation that Taliban forces and leaders are surviving and will have some influence over the future of Afghanistan. A new introduction is suicide attacks and terrorist methods not used in 2001. Observers have suggested that poppy eradication policies, which destroy the livelihoods of rural Afghans, and civilian deaths caused by the bombing campaigns of international troops, are linked to the resurgence of the Taliban. These observers maintain that counter-insurgency policy should focus on the battle for the hearts and minds of the Afghan people and on the reconstruction of the Afghan economy, which could profit from the licensing of poppies to make medicine rather than their eradication. In September 2006, the Islamic Emirate of Waziristan, an association of Waziristani chieftains with close ties to the Taliban, were recognized by the Government of Pakistan as the de facto security force in charge of North and South Waziristan. This recognition was part of the agreement to end the Waziristan War which had extracted a heavy toll on the Pakistan Army since early 2004. Some commentators viewed Islamabad's shift from war to diplomacy as implicit recognition of the growing power of the resurgent Taliban relative to American influence, with the US distracted by the threat of looming crises in Iraq, Lebanon, and Iran.
Other commentators view Islamabad's shift from war to diplomacy as a means to appease growing discontent in Pakistan. Because of its leadership structure, the assassination of Mullah Dadullah in May 2007 will not significantly affect the Taliban, but it may set-back the incipient relations with Pakistan.
According to Human Rights Watch, bombings and other attacks which have led to civilian casualties are reported to have "sharply escalated in 2006" with "at least 669 Afghan civilians were killed in at least 350 armed attacks, most of which appear to have been intentionally launched at non-combatants."  By 2008 the Taliban had increased its attacks using suicide bombers and the targeted killing of unarmed civilian aid workers such as Gayle Williams.