The Taliban (Pashto: طالبان‎ ṭālibān "students"), alternative spelling Taleban, is an Islamic fundamentalist militant movement mostly of Pashtun tribesmen. It ruled large parts of Afghanistan and its capital, Kabul, as the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan from September 1996 until October 2001. It gained diplomatic recognition from three states: Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. The main leader of the Taliban movement was at one time considered Mullah Mohammed Omar, and Kandahar is considered the birthplace of the Taliban. However, the true co-founders of the Taliban are Sami ul Haq and Fazal-ur-Rehman

While in power, it enforced its strict interpretation of Sharia law, and leading Muslims have been highly critical of the Taliban's interpretations of Islamic law. The Taliban were condemned internationally for their brutal repression of women. The majority of their leaders were influenced by Deobandi fundamentalism, and many also strictly follow the social and cultural norm called Pashtunwali.

From 1995-2001, the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence and military are widely alleged by the international community to have provided support to the Taliban. Their connections are possibly through Harkat-ul-Mujahideen, a terrorist group founded by Sami ul Haq. Pakistan has been accused by many international officials of continuing to support the Taliban today, but Pakistan claims to have dropped all support for the group since 9/11. Al Qaeda also supported the Taliban with regiments of imported fighters from Arab countries and Central Asia. Saudi Arabia provided financial support. The Taliban and their allies committed massacres against Afghan civilians, denied UN food supplies to 160,000 starving civilians and conducted a policy of scorched earth burning vast areas of fertile land and destroying tens of thousands of homes during their rule from 1996-2001. Hundreds of thousands of people were forced to flee to United Front-controlled territory, Pakistan and Iran.

After the attacks of September 11, 2001 the Taliban were overthrown by the American-led invasion of Afghanistan. Later it regrouped as an insurgency movement to fight the American-backed Islamic Republic of Afghanistan (established in late 2001) and the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). The Taliban have been accused of using terrorism as a specific tactic to further their ideological and political goals. According to the United Nations, the Taliban and their allies were responsible for 75% of Afghan civilian casualties in 2010 and 80% in 2011. Today the Taliban operate in Afghanistan and northwest Pakistan. It is believed one of their current major headquarters is near Quetta in Pakistan.

Read more about Taliban:  Etymology, Economy, International Relations, Media

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