Today We Learn About: Taliban & al-Qaeda

Taliban refers to a fundamentalist muslim political group that ruled Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001. The group’s name literally means, “students” and grew as a response to the area’s turbulent times under Russian rule. The Taliban are known for the strict code of conduct that was required of their citizens, and for their protection of al-Qaeda leader Usama bin Laden. Both groups have undertaken acts of terrorism against western targets, and have sought to unite Muslims under the banner of jihad over the years. Taliban had initially posed itself as a political group, with al-Qaeda serving as a sort of military wing.

While there have been close ties between the two groups, the Taliban and al-Qaeda are separate extremist groups operating within the Middle East. The Taliban came to power through financing and encouragement from the Pakistan security force, Inter-Services Intelligence Agency. Pakistan supported the group because they sought to have a stable ally on their western border, and funding and cultivating the Taliban was an easy way to achieve this aim.

Al-Qaeda was created by Usama bin Laden during the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, and mainly concerned itself in the training of fighters for the resistance. The group would later come to train fighters for the Taliban, setting up operations across Afghanistan.

The main aim of the Taliban government was to bring the area of Afghanistan under the rule of Islamic Law, or Sharia. In doing so, the government won the approval of many citizens as crime dropped. At the same time, harsh social codes were enforced including a ban on the education of women. Al-Qaeda’s initial aims differed significantly, as the group seeks to create Muslim states, ridding countries of western influence.

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