Reaping the Whirlwind: The Taliban Movement in Afghanistan

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From My Bookshelf

Crisis in Global Security: The Middle East

Many books have been written within the last few years warning of impending crises in global security in the Middle East. The following books are ones I find to be especially interesting in light of current events.

REAPING THE WHIRLWIND: The Taliban Movement in Afghan-istan, Michael Griffin, Pluto Books, Sterling, VA, 2001, 283 pages, $27.50. In this book, Michael Griffin details the evolution of the Taliban, who practice a brand of Diobandi-Wahabi Islam foreign to most Muslims. Griffin spent time in Afghanistan as a consultant for UNICEF and is a well-traveled freelance writer.

The first mention of the word talib in the vocabulary of the Mujahidin surfaced during the Soviet-Afghanistan War. Of the dozen factions fighting the Soviets, a few actively solicited the aid of the talib-students of Islamic schools based in Pakistan and southern Afghanistan. The talibs, soon to be known as the Taliban, were a breed apart from the rest of the fighters because the talibs saw the battle as being a "holy war."

The war offered fighters a chance for revenge and, through plundering and looting, a way to feed their families. Some Mujahidin joined the fight then returned to their homes; others fought for profit. The talibs fought and were willing to die for their fellow Afghans and were not averse to losing their own lives in order to kill as many Soviets as they could or to change the course of battle. The most widely recognized equivalent to the talibs' attitudes can be found in the actions of the Japanese kamikaze during World War II. In 1989, the Soviets withdrew from Afghanistan, and the majority of talibs returned to their schools. …