The Taliban

Formed1994
DisbandedGroup is active.
First AttackAugust 1994: Taliban militia marched northward from Maiwand and captured the city of Kandahar losing only a couple dozen men. Shortly thereafter, Kandahar became the capital of the Taliban government. Over the course of the following year, 12 of the 34 Afghan provinces fell under Taliban control. [1]
Last AttackApril 19, 2016: Armed militants in Afghanistan stormed a key government security agency in Kabul as part of a coordinated assault, killing at least 28 people and wounding more than 320. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, which included a suicide car bombing. [2]
UpdatedJuly 13, 2016

Narrative Summary

The Taliban, not to be confused with the Tehreek-e-Taliban in Pakistan (TTP), emerged as a far-right Islamist militant organization in 1994 under the spiritual leadership of Mullah Mohammad Omar. A large majority of Taliban supporters hail from Afghanistan and Pakistan and are educated at Islamic religious schools referred to as ‘madrasas,’ and the direct Pashto translation of “Taliban” is “students.” Although the Taliban was officially formed in 1994, its roots lie in the mujahedeen, forces that fought the Soviet Union in Afghanistan from 1969 to 1989, covertly supported by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency and its Pakistani counterpart, the Inter-Services Intelligence directorate (ISI). [3] [4]    

It is widely believed that the Taliban leaders emerged from the many Afghan refugees studying at religious schools in Pakistan.  These schools were funded by Pakistani and Arab philanthropists hoping to influence the interpretation of Islam practiced in the region.  It was at these madrassas that the future Taliban members developed a belief in the strict Islamic law they would later impose in Afghanistan. They were motivated by the suffering among the Afghan people which they believed resulted from power struggles between Afghan groups who did not adhere to the moral code of Islam. [5] 

In September of 2004, Mullah Mohammad Omar, the future leader of the Taliban, left Sang-i-Hisar Madrassa in Maiwand, where he had been studying since the end of the Soviet occupation.  Disappointed that Islamic law had not been put in place following the ousting of communist rule, Mullah Omar gathered a small group of students and pledged to rid Afghanistan of warlords and criminals. [6]   With just 50 students supporting his campaign, Mullah Omar founded the group that would later become known as the Taliban. Within months, the Taliban grew to 15,000 as students from madrassas in Pakistan joined the movement.  Along with these new recruits came financial and military support from Pakistan.  Through this support, the Taliban was able to seize the important border town of Spin Boldak. [7]

On November 3, 2004, the Taliban took control of Kandahar City in a surprise attack, losing only a dozen men in the fight. [8] . The Taliban’s early popularity was largely due to their success in stamping out corruption, curbing lawlessness and making the roads and the areas under their control safe for commerce to flourish. [9] Over the next two months, the Taliban took control of 12 provinces and by February 1995, its numbers had grown to 25,000 fighters.  [10] 

Following its initial mobilization, the Taliban received heavy support from Pakistan’s Inter-Service Intelligence agency (ISI). [11]  The ISI utilized the Taliban to mount an offensive stance against the Afghan government in hopes of instilling a new ruling power favorable to Pakistan as well as to secure routes to open trade to the newly independent Central Asian states. [12] [13]

In 1996, the Taliban successfully took control of Kabul and established the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan with Mullah Omar as the head of state. Under the Taliban, strict Shariah law was enforced, which led to large criticism around the world for its treatment of women and children, as well as its denial of food and aid to underserved citizens. The group used various conventional and unconventional warfare techniques to achieve their goal of establishing a strictly Shariah-governed Afghan state. [14] 

By 1998, the Taliban had come to control 90 percent of the country. Taliban-governed Afghanistan became an international pariah for its human rights abuses and refusal to surrender bin Laden and other internationally wanted criminals. Only three foreign governments recognized the Taliban government between 1997 and 2001: Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. The Northern Alliance, led by Ahmed Shah Massoud, became the Taliban government’s main military and political opposition, and maintained Afghanistan's seat at the United Nations. [15] 

Following the August 7, 1998 bombing of US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania by Al Qaeda, the US launched air strikes in Afghanistan, targeting sites believed to be part of Al Qaeda’s network. [16] The Taliban announced that Osama Bin Laden had not been killed in the attacks. On December 19, 2000, after more than a year of attempts to apprehend Osama Bin Laden through negotiations, the United Nations imposed wide sanctions and an air embargo on the Taliban government. [17] [18]

The Taliban remained Afghanistan’s ruling entity until 2001, when, following the September 11th attacks, it again refused to turn over Osama Bin Laden.  U.S.-led coalition forces with the help of the Northern Alliance, a U.S.-supported group of minorities in northern Afghanistan opposed to Taliban rule, invaded Afghanistan and quickly routed the Taliban. [19].  Mullah Omar and much of the Taliban leadership fled across the Pakistani border, where they were able to regroup and gain new followers. [20]  Much of the Taliban lay dormant in these Afghan and Pakistani hideouts for the next several years. [21]

In the interim, the United Nations convened the Bonn Conference to establish Afghanistan’s post-Taliban government. Afghan representatives from across the country were invited to elect a transitional administration.  A new constitution was ratified in December 2003, and in October the following year, acting president Hamid Karzai was elected president of Afghanistan. The Taliban was not invited to participate. [22] 

In May of 2003, U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld declared an end to major combat in Afghanistan, and NATO took charge of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) coalition, three months later. By 2004, the U.S. was fully at war in Iraq, which pulled resources and attention away from Afghanistan. [23] Capitalizing on the opportunity, the Taliban reasserted itself with new tactics including suicide attacks.  Before 2004, suicide bombings were rare in Afghanistan. In 2004, there were just six such attacks committed by the Taliban.  In 2005 the number more than tripled to 21, and in 2006, Afghanistan saw 141 suicide attacks, causing 1,166 casualties. [24]

The U.S. responded to the rise in attacks by sending an additional 4,500 U.S. troops to Afghanistan in September 2008. Just a few months later in February 2009, the new Obama administration in the U.S. sent an additional 17,000 troops to Afghanistan to fight the resurgent Taliban. In December of the same year, President Obama announced a “surge” which sent an additional 30,000 troops, raising the total U.S. troops in Afghanistan to 100,000. [25] 

The results of the surge against a resurgent Taliban were mixed.  The additional manpower was successful in clearing the Taliban from power from its stronghold in Kandahar City and the surrounding districts such as Arghandab, Panwai, and Maiwand. The group, however, was still operationally functional and able to carry out suicide assaults, assassinations, and even a massive prison break.  Most of Helmand province was also cleared of Taliban, which dealt a blow to the lucrative narcotics trade they had been operating from the province.  The surge was less effective in Afghanistan’s southeastern provinces Khost, Paktia, and Paktika, the Taliban’s access point to their safe havens in Pakistan. The area is also of importance to the Haqqani Network, an Al Qaeda and Taliban-linked group, considered one of the most dangerous and effective Taliban allies. [26] With U.S. and coalition forces focused on regaining control of Southern Afghanistan, the Taliban was able to take control in Kunar and Nuristan.  [27]

On September 20, 2011, Former Afghan president Burhanuddin Rabbani was assassinated, allegedly by Haqqani Network operatives. Rabbani was head of the High Peace Council and the government’s chief negotiator with the Taliban. [28] In January 2012, the Taliban opened an office in Qatar to begin political settlement talks on the future of Afghanistan with the U.S. but the preliminary talks fell apart just two months later. [29]

In 2014, Mullah Abdul Qayum Zaker, a Taliban leader for thirteen years, stepped down in hopes that U.S. military and Taliban peace talks would resume. In September 2015, the Taliban seized control of Kunduz, the first provincial capital to fall under Taliban control since their defeat in 2001. [30] Despite heavy international and U.S. interest and involvement in eliminating the Taliban and their continued success, the group has never been classified, designated, or listed as a terrorist organization, but rather as armed insurgents. [31] [32]

The international community increasingly appears to view the Taliban as part of Afghanistan’s future. In July 2015, Afghan government officials and Taliban leaders met for the first round of talks in a new peace process. [33]  In December of the same year, Zamir Kabulov, President Vladimir Putin’s special envoy to Afghanistan stated that Russia is coordinating with the Taliban to hinder the spread of ISIS in Afghanistan. [34]


Amid July 2015 negotiations with the Government of Afghanistan, the Taliban made the surprise announcement of the death of leader Mullah Omar.  Analysts believe the announcement was the result of a divide in the Taliban over the negotiations. Mullah Mansoor was selected as Mullah Omar's successor, and was believed to be close to Pakistan’s intelligence service, and therefore had supported the Pakistan-backed talks. The Taliban's political bureau opposed the negotiations, believing any negotiations should be conducted from its Doha office to avoid Pakistani influence. Other factions opposed negotiations altogether as the Taliban had achieved significant success on the battlefield. [35]  One of these factions, lead by Mullah Mohammad Rasool, formed an official splinter group that did not recognize Mullah Mansoor’s leadership.  [36]

Pakistan, Afghanistan, the United States, and China came to an agreement in late February 2016 on a road map to end the Afghan war through negotiations between Kabul and the Taliban. Taliban representatives were expected to join Afghan officials in the first round of peace talks in Pakistan in the Spring of 2016 but the death of Mullah Mansoor by a U.S. drone strike in in May, 2016 has derailed Taliban cooperation. [37] [38] [39] [40] 

The security situation appears to be deteriorating.  According to a United Nations report, 2015 was the deadliest year for Afghan civilians with more than 11,000 killed and wounded - the highest number recorded since the U.S.-led invasion in 2001. The report documented 3,545 civilian deaths, a 4% increase from 2014, and 7,457 injuries, a 9% rise. [41].  A recent report cited in the Long War Journal counted 35 of Afghanistan’s 398 districts under Taliban control, with another 35 being contested. [42]

Leadership

The current leadership structure, known as the Quetta Shura, is composed of the leaders of the Afghan Taliban, and has been based in Quetta, Pakistan since the collapse of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan in 2001. [43] [44]

  1. Mullah Mohammad Fazl (Unknown to November 2001): Mullah Mohammad Fazl commanded the main Taliban force fighting the U.S.-backed Northern Alliance in 2001, and served as chief of army staff for the Taliban. Fazl was detained after surrendering to Abdul Rashid Dostam, the leader of Afghanistan's Uzbek community, in November 2001 and was transferred to U.S. custody in December 2001. He was one of the first arrivals at the U.S. detention site in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where he was held until his release on May 31, 2014 in a prisoner swap for U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl. He is alleged to have association with several militant Islamist groups, including Al Qaeda.[45]
  2. Mullah Dadullah (Unknown to May 13, 2007): Mullah Dadullah sat on the Taliban Shura Majlis (executive council) and was the Taliban’s most senior military commander. Dadullah is reported to have been one of Mullah Omar’s most trusted advisors since he came to Taliban leadership in the mid 1990s. He escaped the siege of Kunduz in November 2001 and is linked to several Shi’a massacres in Afghanistan. He held his position until May 13, 2007 when he was killed while fighting NATO ISAF and Afghan forces.[46]
  3. Mullah Dadullah (Unknown to May 13, 2007): Mullah Dadullah sat on the Taliban Shura Majlis (executive council) and was the Taliban’s most senior military commander. Dadullah is reported to have been one of Mullah Omar’s most trusted advisors since he came to Taliban leadership in the mid 1990s. He escaped the siege of Kunduz in November 2001 and is linked to several Shi’a massacres in Afghanistan. He held his position until May 13, 2007 when he was killed while fighting NATO ISAF and Afghan forces.[47]
  4. Abdul Ghani Baradar (1994 to February 8, 2010): Abdul Ghani Baradar was the deputy of Mullah Mohammad Omar, and was the leader of the Quetta Shura militant organization from 2007-2010. He is seen as a somewhat moderate leader within the Taliban, and is credited with attempting to engage in peace talks in 2004 and 2009. He is a member of the same Pashtun tribe as Afghan President Hamid Karzai. The U.S. placed a $10m bounty on his head. Baradar was perceived as the "de facto" leader of the Taliban beginning in early 2009 and was captured on February 8, 2010.[48]
  5. Mullah Mohammad Omar (1994 to April 23, 2013): Mullah Mohammad Omar was the founder and leader of the Taliban until his death in 2013. In April 1996, he was named "Commander of the Faithful" by his supporters, an important title in both Afghan and Islamic history. From this point forward, his official title was "Chairman of the Supreme Council of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan". Edicts from Mullah Omar included the death sentence for anyone converting to another religion, as well as the orders to destroy Afghanistan’s ancient Buddha statues at Bamiyan. Omar was wanted by the U.S. State Department for sheltering Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda operatives leading up to and following the September 11, 2001 attacks, and a $10m bounty was put on his head. Mullah Omar’s death was announced by the Taliban in July, 2015, however several sources including the Afghan government have confirmed that Omar actually died on April 23, 2013 in a Pakistani hospital.[49]
  6. Mullah Obaidullah Akhund (1996 to February 2008): Mullah Obaidullah Akhund served as Defense Minister for the Taliban’s Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan from 1996-2001. As a member of the Mujahideen Shura Council since 2003, Akhund was the third highest-ranking commander in the Taliban insurgency and had direct access to Mullah Omar. He was initially captured in 2002 and was released as part of an amnesty agreement shortly after. In February 2007, Akhund was detained again. He was subsequently released in November 2007 in exchange for the release of 200 prisoners held by the Taliban in Pakistan. Following his re-arrest in 2008, he died of a heart disease in a Karachi prison in 2010. To date, Akhund is the highest-ranking Taliban member to have been arrested. [50]
  7. Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansoor (1996 to May 23, 2016): Mullah Manor was the deputy leader of the Taliban and de-facto leader between Mullah Omar’s death in 2013 and the public announcement two years later. Mansoor was the Minister of Civil Aviation during Taliban rule in Afghanistan. The Taliban officially announced Mansoor as Chief commander of the Taliban in July 2015. He was killed by a U.S. drone strike in Pakistan in May, 2016. [51]
  8. Arsala Rahmani (1998 to May 13, 2012): Arsala Rahmani was elected to serve as the Deputy Minister for Higher Education in the Taliban government in 1998 and was listed as a Taliban member in UNSC Resolution 1267 (requesting terrorist suspects/convicted terrorists assets frozen). He was Deputy Leader of political affairs for Khuddamul Furqan, the first Islamic political party in Afghanistan, and later served in the Meshrano Jirga, the highest house of the Afghan National Assembly, from 2005 to 2010. President Hamid Karzai asked Rahmani to serve in the Afghan High Peace Council in September 2010, which attempted to bring the Taliban into the negotiation process. Just a year after his removal from the UNSC Resolution 1267 designation list, Rahmani was found shot dead in his car in Kabul on May 13, 2012.[52]
  9. Mullah Abdul Qayum Zakir (2001 to April 27, 2014): Mullah Abdul Qayum Zakir was a Chief Taliban Military Commander for 13 years until he stepped down in 2014. Zakir was held at the U.S. detention site in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba for an unknown duration until 2007 when he was released after he persuaded prison authorities that he was a farmer who was mistakenly arrested. Although the Taliban announced Zakir’s health as the reason for his resignation, sources agree that he was forced out due to disagreements with other Taliban leaders.[53]
  10. Sirajuddin (Siraj) Haqqani (2015 to Present): Sirajuddin Haqqani is a leader of the Haqqani Network (HN) and the son of HN founder, Jalaluddin Haqqani. He was appointed Mansoor’s deputy after the new Taliban commander was announced in July 2015.[54]
  11. Moulavi Haibatullah Akhunzada (2015 to Present): Moulavi Haibatullah Akhunzada is a former judiciary chief of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan and a religious scholar. He was appointed Mansoor’s deputy after the new Taliban commander was announced in July 2015.[55]

Ideology & Goals

The Taliban’s main goal is to establish a Taliban controlled government in Afghanistan and implement Sharia law.  Overall the ideology of the Taliban is considered a shift from traditional Islamist views held by anti-Soviet Mujahedeen fighters in the 1980s and early 1990s to a combination of strict anti-modern Pashtun tribal ideology mixed with radicalized Deobandi interpretations of Islam. Osama Bin Laden's jihadist and pan-Islamist views also penetrated the ideological foundations of the Taliban governance and insurgency. The Taliban has an ideological commitment to a strict interpretation and enforcement of Shariah law. [56]

Size Estimates

While core leadership is estimated to be between 200-1,000 individuals, the estimates of active members in the Taliban range dramatically in each year. Most current estimates place active membership at more than 35,000 (2010).[57]

Designated/Listed

The Afghan Taliban is not designated as a terrorist group by the United States Department of State or any other U.S. government entity, United Nations, or European Union. The Taliban is classified as an armed insurgent group. [64] [65] The only country that has designated the Taliban as a terrorist organization is Russia. [66]

Resources

The Taliban procured many of its weapons through CIA programs that equipped Mujahedeen fighters against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in the 1980s. [67]

Much of the Taliban’s finances come from poppy production and drug trade. Between 1996 and 1999, the Taliban controlled 96% of the Afghan poppy fields. The group taxed the poppy agriculture, which funded the majority of the Taliban’s activity. [68] Even after U.S. forces entered the region in 2001, poppy seed agriculture and the heroin drug trade continued to fund more than 60% of the Taliban’s activity. In August 2007, a UN report estimated that Afghanistan was producing 93% of the world’s heroin. Taliban control over poppy fields eventually decreased as NATO Coalition Forces secured more areas of the country. In 2008 a report estimated that opium trade had dropped to only funding 40% of the Taliban’s operations.  [69] [70] 

The Taliban has been known to supplement opium revenue with illegal timber trading, extortion, and lucrative mining operations.  [71] [72]  Some reports indicate the Taliban also solicit donations from local mosques and businessmen in dire times.   [73]

The Taliban also receives financial contributions from Islamic charities and other institutions outside Afghanistan. These tend to come from countries in the Gulf region and neighboring Pakistan. With the recent dip in oil revenues, however, the flow of money from Gulf Cooperation Council nations has declined.  The Taliban is widely believed to receive financial and logistical support from Pakistan, particularly from Pakistan’s ISI.  Although Pakistan has denied these claims and there has been no explicit evidence of financial support, Sartaj Aziz, Adviser to the Prime Minister on foreign affairs admitted that Pakistan is in fact sheltering Taliban leaders and has been doing so for decades. [74]  [75]

External Influences

The Taliban was publically supported and funded by the Pakistani government from 1994 to 2001 during its rule of Afghanistan. [76] Pakistan withdrew public support for the Taliban government after the U.S. invaded Afghanistan in 2001, but the ISI continue to support the Taliban covertly. Pakistan has denied claims that the ISI supports the Taliban, U.S. intelligence reports from the raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound in Abottabad, Pakistan indicate evidence that the ISI never cut relations with the Taliban. [77] In December 2015, Zamir Kabulov, President Vladimir Putin’s special envoy to Afghanistan stated that Russia is coordinating with the Taliban to hinder the spread of ISIS in Afghanistan. [78]

Geographical Locations

The Taliban has camps in Afghanistan’s southern provinces of Helmand, Zabul, and Kandahar. These areas make up the majority of Taliban operations in Afghanistan.  [79]  The executive leadership, known as the Quetta Shura Taliban (QST), reportedly moved operations to the Pakistani city of Quetta after the U.S.-led invasion in 2001. [80]

Targets & Tactics

The central targets of Taliban violence are coalition troops and Afghan government forces. The Taliban utilizes suicide bombings, IED’s conventional warfare, unconventional warfare, rocket attacks, assassinations, guerilla warfare, massacres, kidnappings, targeting of civilians, and targeting of NGOs. [81] Civilian aid workers have increasingly been the targets of Taliban attacks and suicide bombings. [82] 

Following the surge of U.S. troops in 2009, Taliban forces increased attacks against civilians in Afghanistan. A 2011 UN report identifies Taliban forces as responsible for 76 percent of civilian deaths in 2009, 75 percent in 2010, and 80 percent in 2011. [83]

Since the U.S. coalition invasion of Afghanistan, the Taliban has placed explosives in public gathering locations, suicide bombers in public markets, and female suicide bombers have been used to target international forces. The Taliban has been known to use civilians to draw coalition forces into an area and subsequently detonate an explosive device or carry out an attack against these forces. These attacks often kill more civilians than coalition forces.  In addition, since 2007, the Taliban has placed IEDs in more than 15 girls' schools. [84]

Political Activities

The Taliban established the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan on September 27, 1996 and officially ruled the nation until October 2001; however, its rule was only recognized by Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and the United Arab Emirates. [85]  [86]


Since the Taliban was removed from power in 2001, more moderate members have pushed for the organization to join peace processes. Mullah Omar consistently opposed any negotiations throughout his life and authorized the assassination of political opponents.  After his death in 2013, and further since the news was made public in 2015, the Taliban leadership has indicated interest in, and at times participated in, preliminary negotiations for a political solution in Afghanistan.  [87] 

The Taliban coordinates, is supported by, and shelters a number of militant groups. Al Qaeda members, Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) members, and thousands of Pakistani Islamic militants have fought for the Taliban. [98]  


As recently as 2013, ISAF forces have found evidence of a high level of cooperation between the Taliban and the IMU. The IMU is known to have integrated its operations with the Taliban in northern Afghanistan and maintains its base of support across the border in Pakistan.  [99] IMU leaders have also served in the Taliban’s shadow government. It was reported that more than 600 IMU militants were provided to the Taliban to aid in fighting against ethnic-Tajik leader Massoud in 2000 and 2001. The Taliban and Al Qaeda are both accused of providing financial and logistical assistance to the IMU. [100]


Osama bin Laden and his followers who formed Al Qaeda returned to Afghanistan in May 1996 after being expelled from Sudan.  At the time, bin Laden and Mullah Omar were not associated, but when the Taliban took control of Jalalabad, where bin Laden was living, Al Qaeda operatives fell under custody of the Taliban. The relationship between Al Qaeda and the Taliban during the second half of the 1990s was often tense. The two groups had little interaction and bin Laden pursued an independent agenda, often to the detriment of the Taliban. Mullah Omar and bin Laden eventually developed relationship although the extent and details of their association remain unclear during these years.  Al Qaeda and the Afghan Taliban remain two distinct groups, with different membership, agendas, ideologies, and objectives. The interaction and contacts between the two groups are found in three main forms: individual ties, a shared religious motivation, and a shared location.  Following the September 11th, 2001 attacks, Mullah Omar refused to apprehend bin Laden for foreign authorities.  The Taliban did, however, release a statement condemning the attacks. [101]  Throughout their relationship, the Taliban has rarely made mention of the connection.  In contrast, Al Qaeda has regularly confirmed its loyalty to the Taliban.  [102]


In August 2015, Al Qaeda leader Ayman al Zawahiri pledged his support to the Afghan Taliban. [103] Mansour acknowledged and accepted the pledge of loyalty in a public message, an unusual open acknowledgement by the Taliban of its continued alliance with Al Qaeda and a blatant violation of the rules against any political reconciliation process in Afghanistan. [104] 


The Haqqani Network (HN) is closely tied to the Taliban as well. Led by Jalaluddin Haqqani and his son, Sirajuddin, who was named a deputy head of the Taliban in 2015, the HN has been providing weapons and training to Taliban members since the mid-1990s and remains one of the largest militant organizations in the region, commanding more than 15,000 fighters throughout the FATA in Pakistan and Southern Afghanistan. Though a separate entity, militants are often tied to both groups and take part in Taliban operations throughout Afghanistan and Northwestern Pakistan. Founder Jalaluddin Haqqani pledged the loyalty of his group to Mullah Omar. Omar’s death put the relationship between the Taliban and Haqqani network in turmoil but the appointment of two Haqqani leaders to Taliban leadership in July 2015 signals the two groups are more intertwined than ever. [105] [106]     

 

The Taliban is a separate organization from the Tehrik-e-Taliban (TTP) in Pakistan though there is some overlap between the two. The TTP and Taliban are both Pashtun-dominated and have similar Deobandi interpretations of Islam but differ in their targets. [107] Prior to the inception of the TTP in 2007, it is estimated that between 20-40% of Taliban forces fighting in the war in Afghanistan were of Pakistani origin. [108] 

The Taliban leadership has voiced strong opposition to Islamic State (IS) presence in Afghanistan. In June 2015 the Taliban’s deputy leader Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansoor wrote a public letter warning IS to stay out of Afghanistan. [109] 

Community Relationships

During the Taliban's leadership of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, only Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and the United Arab Emirates recognized their government as legitimate. Though they received funding and weapons as part of the anti-Communist resistance from the CIA during the 1980s, support now comes largely from the tribal regions where the Taliban operates, as well as from the Pakistani ISI. [110] During the Taliban's leadership of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, only Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and the United Arab Emirates recognized their government as legitimate. Though they received funding and weapons as part of the anti-Communist resistance from the CIA during the 1980s, support now comes largely from the tribal regions where the Taliban operates, as well as from the Pakistani ISI. [111]  

The Taliban composed largely of ethnic Pashtun tribes. Accordingly, a significant portion of Taliban members follow Pashtunwali, a strict moral and cultural code of conduct for Pashtun tribesmen. [112] 

During the Taliban’s rule of Afghanistan, the government was known for poor treatment of its citizens, particularly women and minorities. Food was often denied to the population when provided by United Nations or foreign assistance. Women were punished severely for crimes, denied access to health care, education, and were forced to follow strict dress codes and curfews. [113]    


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