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When the word “Taliban” is ever mentioned most people immediately associate them with September 11th 2001 and the war in Afghanistan that occurred shortly after. However the Taliban are much more than just terrorists that destroyed the twin towers.
The Taliban or “Students of Islamic Knowledge Movement” have a larger history than most people would assume (Hayes, http://www.infoplease.com/spot/taliban.html). In reality the Taliban are a militia that has been controlling Afghanistan since 1996. Their goal at first was to end factional warfare which took place after the Soviet War in Afghanistan. The war between these different factions claimed thousands of lives.
Although the Taliban are considered loose networks of over a dozen terrorist organizations, they are all led by Mullah Muhammad Omar and are united by Osama bin Laden’s pan-Islamic vision. Osama bin Laden’s terrorist organization, al-Qaeda is organized very similar to a business. The structure of the Taliban is a hierarchy that clearly shows Osama bin Laden at the top, as the Emir General (McDougall Littell. Pg US10). Under bin Laden are his two top lieutenants, but from that point the structure of the Taliban is unclear. There are various groups of terrorist belonging to Islamic, Jihad, or Hamas that carry out operations for the Taliban.
It is important to learn the history of Afghanistan to understand how the Taliban formed. The first events that led to the creation of the Taliban began almost a century ago. In 1933 the last king, Muhammad Zahir Shah rose to power. In 1953 Dauod Khan a cousin of Zahir Shah was appointed prime minister but was later dismissed in 1963. In 1973 Muhammad Zahir Shah was overthrown by Daoud Khan in a bloodless coup. In 1978 though, it was Dauod’s turn to lose power. He was assassinated in a coup while he was trying to crackdown on political foes (Ali 28)
After the death of Khan, leaders of the communist People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA) took control of the country. Nur Mohammed Taraki became the president of the president of the council and also prime minister of Afghanistan. Babrak Karmal was picked to be deputy Prime Minister (Ali 28). The PDPA was then separated into two different factions. The Khalq was led by Taraki and Hafizullah Amin. The Parcham was led by Karmal. Past conflicts between the two factions emerged and violence erupted. Thousands of people were captured or killed. Radical land reforms and social reforms were also greatly changing Afghanistan lifestyles (Ali 28).
In 1978 Soviet troops conflicted with Afghan guerrillas (mujahidin) after the coup that overthrew president Daoud Khan. The Soviet Union was provoked again to invade Afghanistan after Taraki was ordered to be killed by Hafizullah Amin in 1979. The Afghanistan War which was fought between the Soviet Union and Afghanistan lasted between 1979 until 1992. Since the Soviet Union had the advantage in strength and technologically wise the Afghans were forced to fight a guerilla war. With the aid of the United States, Britain and China the Afghans were able to force the Soviet troops’ to withdraw by February 1989.
In April of 1992 the communist regime was overthrown by the mujahidin. After the takeover of the country rival mujahidin leaders fought each other for supremacy (Ali 30). During this period thousands of civilians were killed in this struggle for power. Around the early 1990’s among all the fighting and killing emerged the Taliban. The Taliban at first were a group of students that followed Mullah Muhammad Omar. Their aim was to restore order to this war torn land and enforce their interpretation of Islamic law. The Taliban spread their influence by attacking local warlords and soon grew a reputation for their military ability.
Although many Americans consider the Taliban to be evil and maniacal they had quite the humble beginning. They had many supporters at first for several reasons. The Taliban were mostly Pashtuns, so a large part of their support came from Afghanistan’s Pashtun community. However ethnicity was not the only factor, many Afghans were tired of the constant fighting between the warring factions. These battles for power had claimed many lives already; the Taliban brought the people hope and joy by quelling the violence and stamping out corruption in the government. The Taliban had begun their quest for Afghanistan.
Although the Taliban may have been popular at first they soon lost many followers due to their harsh interpretation of the Islamic law. Their policies stripped many privileges from women. These policies prohibited women from working outside the home in activities other than health care. Women were also prohibited from attending universities and all girls’ schools in Kabul were closed and in some other cities as well. Primary schools for girls continued to operate in many other areas of the country under Taliban control. The Taliban also enforced a strict dress code for women. Those convicted of certain crimes would be faced with corporal punishment.
Women that we caught breaking any of laws were severely punished. In one incident a woman was publicly executed for the killing of her husband by the Taliban. The woman was first brought to a stadium where thousands of spectators came to watch the brutal killing. Then she was shot in three times by a Taliban soldier. Islamic law allowed the family of the murdered to forgive the murderer. Even though the family of the husband did forgive the women the Taliban paid no attention to the pleas and killed the women anyway.
Aside from women the Taliban also targeted different factions or ethnicities in their conquest of Afghanistan. One group in particular the Hazaras were targeted by the Taliban multiple times. In the month of January of 2001 a slaughter of about 300 unarmed Hazaras took place. However, the most devastating mass killings occurred in 1997 when Taliban members killed over 2,000 civilians most of which were Hazara.
In modern times the Taliban are considered an infamous organization that circulates around the terror and destruction of others. It was supposedly a group that sought religious knowledge, but now a society that is a pinnacle of military and political power. It is run by multiple notorious leaders that order followers to kill, destroy and betray fellow Afghan people by demolishing cities, murdering by the hundreds and uprising in unjust power. The minds behind the Taliban are the ones who control the power, the leaders that influence the terror.
Osama Bin Laden from the Saudi Arabia is an important fugitive of the Taliban. He supposedly linked to the planning on the attack on the World Trade Centers more than three years ago after the incident with the same buildings in 1994. Also he was the one who bombed the U.S. embassies in Nairobi, Kenya and Dar es Salaam killing 224 people. His main goals are to kill all Americans and their allies, civilians and military. He is currently on the run and there are doubts that he is dead. Many believe he is still alive, around the borders of Afghanistan and Pakistan and has rumored to have disguised himself.
Many would believe that Osama is the true mastermind of the Taliban, but Mullah Mohammed Omar is the important leader of the organization. A descendant of scholars, Mullah Mohammed Omar believed in the judgment from God and religion is the key. Born in a poor family, he led a simple life and later became a fighter in war alongside Osama Bin Laden against the Soviet Union. He enforced women to never leave the house, denied them work and school and forced them to fully cover themselves. A famous attack he had ordered was to destroy the Buddha statues in a discontent of the religion.
Ayman al-Zawahiri is second in command next to Osama Bin Laden, having known him since the 1980’s. Zawahiri helped found Islamic Jihad, the group that assassinated Egyptian President Anwar Sadat in 1981. Then he was blamed for the 1995 assassination attempt on President Hosni Mubarak and the massacre of foreign tourists in 1997. He was sentenced to death in court in Egypt.
Osama Bin Laden’s other top commander is Mohammad Atef born in Egypt. Atef and al-Zawahiri are credited with bringing the most violent and most carefully planned terrorist operations into the Al Qaeda movement. He gives the military commands in Pakistan, Europe and other places throughout the globe. He has encouraged attacks on U.S. troops in Somalia in 1993. He had kept in satellite phone and fax with Bin Laden, discussing orders for new attacks.
Abdul Salam Zaeef is the Taliban ambassador and spoke in the behalf of Osama Bin Laden, and is a member of the Taliban’s inner circle and committed crimes against humanity, in the world and in Afghanistan. He has highly influenced the region and attacks and involved with the media and news. Rumors are that he is dead, tortured to death, but proved that he has been connected to the Taliban and still very much alive.
One of the main goals of the Taliban is to drive off anything that corrupted and stood in their way to establish a pure Islamic state. Many of these things included what we use in the western part of the world. Sources of entertainment like television, music, and movies do not exist in Afghanistan. The Taliban would go through severe measurements to keep their county as far away from the influences of the outside world. Terrible actions were performed to express their ideas on what their idea of the world should be. Their methods included public executions, following the Islamic law, or attacks on important locations. Not only they targeted on their own people but they also aimed at opposing forces outside Afghanistan too. Important attacks by the Taliban included attacks on United States Embassies, the bombings on the Khobar Towers, the attack on the World Trade Center in 1993 and 2001, and the hijacking of TWA flight 847 .
The United States embassies in Nairobi, Kenya and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, were a key target for the Taliban. On August 7, 1998, these two embassies were attacked precisely at 10:30 am through the use of car bombs. The attack in Kenya brought down the Ufundi Cooperative building which collapsed on top of the embassy. The attack in Tanzania resulted when a bomb was detonated next a petrol-tanker in front of the embassy. The bomb created a crater and completely destroyed the front of the building. The aftermath of the bombings resulted in a total of 258 casualties and 5000 wounded.
The most recent attack may be the most surreal of all. On September 11, 2001, the second attack on the world trade center occurred. This time, instead of just damaging it, it brought down both towers. At 8:45 am and 9:03 am, two hijacked airliners struck each tower. Soon afterwards, at 10:05 am and 10:28, the towers collapsed leaving the buildings of the world trade center in ruins. Also on this day, the pentagon in Washington DC was also struck by an airliner. The aftermath of the attacks left about 3200 dead and even more injured (McDougal Littell World History Patterns of Interaction. Eyewitnesses to the attacks recounted the attacks as a “holy war”, and some recalled it as sheer terror ). On this day the Taliban became a household name. America was not ready for this even though the Taliban clearly showed what they have done in the past. The attacks sent America into a chaos.
After the attacks on the world trade center and the pentagon, America got a wake up call and started to plan on how they should prevent future attacks. This marks the beginning of the war on terrorism. On October 7, 2001, the United States launched their first air strikes in Afghanistan. This was the beginning of the end for the Taliban. After constant battles, the Taliban had finally agreed to surrender Kandahar and were forced out of rule.
The Taliban were driven out of rule of Afghanistan and the process of rebuilding begins. A new leader and government had been elected to rule over Afghanistan. Hamid Karzai was sworn in as the new leader and he begins the healing of Afghanistan. Under the new government, the people of Afghanistan could do activities they would have not normally done under Taliban rule. Women could now go to school, receive healthcare, be less strict on the burqa, and get jobs. The weddings in Afghanistan now have more meaning since they are allowed to celebrate and have parties which were not allowed by the Taliban. The people of Afghanistan could now go to school. During the rule of the Taliban, education was not important, but now everybody wants to go to school. Entertainment is now allowed in the country as well. Sources of amusement like music or dancing can be performed without being feared of getting killed. Also the men could now shave off their beards. Even though the Taliban was not in rule anymore, their soldiers and leaders still hide in Afghanistan. To this day, the search for the remaining members of the Taliban continues but is certainly working. Afghanistan is moving away from savagery and becoming once again normal.
The holocaust was a horrible period of time that a group of people targeted and killed other people just because of their race or their character. The Nazis attacked the Jews, Homosexuals, Jehovah’s witnesses, the handicapped, and many more. Those times has come and go, but the concept of this hate still lives today. The Taliban also is an organization that targeted groups of people that don’t share the same ideas as them. There were many similarities and some differences between the Nazis and the Taliban. Osama Bin Laden can be compared to Adolf Hitler and the people of Afghanistan can be compared to the Jews in the concentration camps. Both these groups of victims were forced against their will to follow the orders of evil cults and were the first victims of their society.
The people of Afghanistan had to endure years of suffering very much like the victims of the holocaust. They each were usually starved, the people of Afghanistan by their own government, and the Jews by the Nazis. Also both had to wear something that indicated who they are. During the reign of the Taliban, women were forced to wear burqa which covered almost their whole body from head to toes. The victims of the Holocaust had to wear triangular badges that had colors that stated their group. Also both could not have any sort of entertainment. The people of Afghanistan were prevented from being exposed to any kind of music, movies, or dances. The holocaust victims had to work all day without any time for fun.
Even though these two problems were very similar, they also had their differences. The people of Afghanistan had to strictly follow the laws of their religion while the Jews were not allowed to express their religion. The goals of the Taliban were to make a pure Islamic state while the goals of the Nazis were to eliminate anybody that was inferior to them.
The Taliban and the Holocaust occurred almost fifty years apart and still it is shocking that they can be so similar. Both the Taliban and the Nazis killed tortured and killed people to satisfy their ids. The rule of the Taliban was fueled by their religion, but many things they did negates it. The Nazis claimed they were doing this for the better of the people but that was not true either. This shows that the world have learn very little of what could happen if people could be so devoted to their own desires that it blocks their true judgment. The concept of hate still lives in mankind in the past, the present, and if we don’t stop now, the future.
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