The Taliban (1994- ), or Taleban, ruled Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001. They brought peace and clean government, but their rule was hard and cruel. The Americans overthrew them in 2001 after 9/11 for harbouring Osama bin Laden and his deadly training camps.
In 2006 the Taliban started fighting in Afghanistan again. By 2007 they controlled most of the roads in the south most of the time. Both the West and now Pakistan are trying to destroy them, by uprooting their bases in Pakistan and killing their top men.
The Taliban had made peace with Pakistan in September 2006, but after the fall of the Red Mosque in July 2007, that peace fell apart. A week later the Taliban took 23 South Korean Christians prisoner.
The Koreans were going down the main road in the east without an armed guard. Extremely foolish. The Taliban wants to exchange them for Taliban fighters that the government holds. They have already shot two of the Koreans dead to show they mean business.
After 1989, when Russia pulled out, Afghanistan sank into civil war. By 1995 the Taliban had gained control of the south and the west. In 1996 they took over Kabul. By 1998 they brought peace to almost the whole country. Just a bit of the north was still ruled by the Northern Alliance.
“Taliban” means “students”, because they studied at the madrasas in Pakistan during the war against Russia. It seems they were secretly backed by Pakistan, especially the ISI, its secret service. Pakistan denies it.
The Taliban has another tie to Pakistan: most are Pashtuns. Nearly half the people in Afghanistan are Pashtuns and yet there are twice as many Pashtuns in Pakistan. This makes it easy for the Taliban to strike and then disappear into Pakistan. Perfect for a guerrilla war.
The Taliban are religious madmen. Not just in the eyes of the morally loose West, but even in the eyes of history. They completely destroyed the Bamiyan Buddhas. The Buddhas were giant figures cut into the rock along the Silk Road, long ago when the people were still Buddhists. The country has been Muslim for over a thousand years, yet the Buddhas still stood. Till now.
The Taliban stopped the trade in heroin when they were in power. That is how amazingly clean and strong their government was. But they also did not let girls over the age of ten go to school and did not let women work outside the home. Women were not allowed to go out in public unless they wore burkas that covered them from head to toe. Men had to grow beards.
Afghanistan under the Taliban was a place without songs, where murderers were shot dead for all to see at the nearby sports field. Where pictures of animals had their heads cut out. Where you could watch television only in secret.
The Taliban are not Wahhabis, like Al Qaeda and the rulers of Saudi Arabia. They are worse.