Taliban

Taliban or 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 Omar, the group's spiritual leader (and a military leader as well). 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 Wahhabi Islam and Afghan tribal customs, and provided a refuge for Osama bin Laden'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 have gained control of S Afghan districts and towns in larger operations. By 2014, however, the Taliban were less successful in battle and controlled only a few districts; they had increasingly come to resemble a criminal organization in their dependence and focus on extortion, opium trafficking, illegal mining, and the like.

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, 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 Bhutto. 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. Also in Pakistan are the groups known as Punjabi Taliban; these draw their membership mainly from the Sunnis of Punjab prov.

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

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2014, The Columbia University Press.

Taliban: Selected full-text books and articles

The Taliban and the Crisis of Afghanistan
Robert D. Crews; Amin Tarzi.
Harvard University Press, 2008
The Afghan Way of War: How and Why They Fight
Rob Johnson.
Oxford University Press, 2011
Librarian’s tip: Chp. 7 "The Civil War, the Taliban and the Insurgency, 1990–2011"
Understanding and Influencing Public Support for Insurgency and Terrorism
Paul K. Davis; Eric V. Larson; Zachary Haldeman; Mustafa Oguz; Yashodhara Rana.
Rand, 2012
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 4 "Public Support for the Taliban Insurgency in Afghanistan"
The Taliban: An Organizational Analysis
Afsar, Shahid; Samples, Chris; Wood, Thomas.
Military Review, Vol. 88, No. 3, May/June 2008
Military Adaptation in Afghanistan
Theo Farrell; Frans Osinga; James A. Russell.
Stanford University Press, 2013
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 10 "Military Adaptation by the Taliban, 2001–201"
Modern Islamist Movements: History, Religion, and Politics
Jon Armajani.
Wiley-Blackwell, 2012
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 6 "Afghanistan"
Hearts, Minds, and the Barrel of a Gun: The Taliban's Shadow Government
Giustozzi, Antonio.
Prism : a Journal of the Center for Complex Operations, Vol. 3, No. 2, March 2012
Afghanistan: From Here to Eternity?
Maloney, Sean M.
Parameters, Vol. 34, No. 1, Spring 2004
PEER-REVIEWED PERIODICAL
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
The Characteristic Traits of Terrorism and Interpretation of Jihad by Al-Qaeda and the Taliban in the Pak-Afghan Society
Soherwordi, Syed Hussain Shaheed; Ashraf, Syed Irfan; Khattak, Shahid Ali.
South Asian Studies, Vol. 27, No. 2, July-December 2012
PEER-REVIEWED PERIODICAL
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
Global Responses to Terrorism: 9/11, Afghanistan and Beyond
Mary Buckley; Rick Fawn.
Routledge, 2003
Librarian’s tip: "Start of War in Afghanistan" begins on p. 15 and Chap. 16 "Unexpectedly at Center Stage: Pakistan"
Women of the Afghan War
Deborah Ellis.
Praeger Publishers, 2000
Librarian’s tip: "The Taliban" begins on p. 60
Before Taliban: Genealogies of the Afghan Jihad
David B. Edwards.
University of California Press, 2002
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 8 "Topakan and Taliban"
Civil War in Afghanistan. (Reflections in a Time of Crisis)(Cover Story)
Mertz, Gayle.
Social Education, Vol. 65, No. 7, November-December 2001
The Women of Afghanistan. (in Focus)
Tell, Carol.
Social Education, Vol. 66, No. 1, January-February 2002
The Taliban's Life of Luxury
Moreau, Ron.
Newsweek, Vol. 161, No. 22, June 12, 2013
Looking for a topic idea? Use Questia's Topic Generator