Who are the Talibans?


Several weeks of offensive, the departure of US troops from the country, the abandonment of the president, Ashraf Ghani, and, shortly after, the taking of KabulThe Taliban advance has been unstoppable and just a few days ago the Afghan government almost gave up the country. They did not expect it to be a matter of months, but of weeks, and it has finally been a matter of days . The takeover of Afghanistan leaves an uncertain and dangerous scenario for a country that has lived before under the control of the Taliban militias, before what later became the longest war in the United States, which ended without victory, with a sour crisis for the country and giving way to what could be one of the greatest humanitarian crises of our time.


Who is behind all this are the Taliban. Transliterated as 'Taliban' (طالبان), their name literally means the 'students'. It is a fundamentalist political-paramilitary movement of Sunni Islam, whose first action dates back to 1994, two years before leading Afghanistan. Born in the early 1990s in northern Pakistan, they were the result of the departure of Soviet soldiers from Afghanistan , and their growth is believed to have been financially supported by hardline Sunni supporter Saudi Arabia. His promise then was to restore peace and security and enforce his strict and austere version of 'sharia' or Islamic law.

1994: the birth of the Taliban

It was Mullah Mohamed Omar, a member of the Pashtun tribe and the first Afghan 'mujahideen' commander , who promoted the organization of a group that sought to expel the USSR from the country. Mohamed Omar is believed to have lived until 2013 in the south of the country, near a US base; in July 2015 it was his own son who, according to a former Taliban minister who had been a member of the governing body of the fundamentalist movement, identified the body of his father, who had died of tuberculosis. After the defeat of the United States in Vietnam and the possibility of an intervention by Washington in Iran in times of the Islamic revolution, the USSR tried to extend its influence to a country that, already then, was immersed in an internal conflict between the Government and the tribes contrary to the secular norms of Kabul.

placeholderMullah Mohamed Omar, founder of the Afghan Taliban
Mullah Mohamed Omar, founder of the Afghan Taliban

It was here that the Mujahideen insurgency emerged, to curb corruption and crime unleashed in post-Soviet Afghanistan . In 1994, with few members among their ranks, they took control of Kandahar and a year later they took Herat, on the border with Iran. It was exactly one year later, in 1996, when they took the capital,putting an end to the government of the then president, Burhanuddin Rabbani, the first president of post-Soviet Islamic Afghanistan. From this moment on the Taliban imposed their strict rules: they banned television and music, they banned the schooling of girls and the burqa became compulsory clothing for all women. It was also the Taliban Afghanistan that gave refuge to Osama Bin Laden while he prepared what was the largest terrorist attack in history, the 9/11 attack in New York, which left almost 3,000 dead.


In 1998, the Taliban controlled almost the entire country - the rest, less than 10% of the country, was controlled by the so-called Northern Alliance or United Islamic Front for the Salvation of Afghanistan - and after the socialist era, in the In the early days of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, the Afghan population did not reject his presence or leadership . In its beginnings. Only three countries in the world recognized the Emirate as a state: Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates; all others recognized Rabbani as president in exile. There were five years of compulsory beard - long, also compulsory - for men, burqa for women and very strict physical punishment: whipping in public, stoning ...

2001: fall of the Taliban government

After the 9/11 attacks, the United States Government demanded that Afghanistan, still an Emirate, immediately hand over the "brain" of the operation. The one who was the most wanted terrorist for several years, Bin Laden, was killed in an operation of which many details are still unknown, when he was hidden in Abbotabad (Pakistan): it was an operation that was hatched for a long time but that culminated in eight hours, and which ended with the corpse of the terrorist being thrown into the sea . But all this happened in 2011, ten years after the US invasion of Afghanistan, ten years before the withdrawal of US troops from the country; ten years after the fall of the Taliban, ten years before their return to power .


At that time, after 9/11 (2001), George Bush ordered the attack: he began the bombardment of Kabul, Kandahar and Herat, the three provinces that first fell into the hands of the Taliban. While the Northern Alliance took control of Kunduz and the Taliban left the capital, Hamiz Karzai assumed the position of interim president; It is at this time that Bin Laden flees to Pakistan . In December 2001 the last positions of the Taliban in the country fell, although the insurgency remained. In January 2002 the first American soldier on the ground died; As of April 2021, many more did so, nearly 2,500, as well as 1,100 other allies, 66,000 Afghan police and soldiers, nearly 50,000 civilians, nearly 500 humanitarian workers and 72 journalists.102 Spanish soldiers lost their lives during the conflict - including the victims of the Yak-42 accident. This has been the cost of the war in Afghanistan .

Who is your leader?

Since the end of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, the Taliban leader survived - and not a few attacks - by hiding between Afghanistan and Pakistan. Although it was confirmed that Omar had died in 2013 due to tuberculosis, there is no official information about his death. The second Taliban leader was Mullah Akhtar Mohamed Mansour . He was publicly named when the death of Omar was known, in July 2015, although part of his relatives did not recognize the new leader, assuming that in this way they would be confirming the death of Omar. The family of the first mullah came to believe that Mansour was behind a possible poisoning of the hitherto leader of the Afghan Taliban.


Omar's family refused to acknowledge the new leader: it meant acknowledging Omar's death


During the Afghan Taliban regime Mansour had been Minister of Aviation. Like Omar, Mansour was also the target of multiple attacks, and in an attack in Quetta, Pakistan, several media reported the Taliban leader for dead . However, his death was not real until May 2016: a CIA operative took advantage of a trip from Mansour to his family in Iran to finish off the Taliban leader . US intelligence managed to track their target and when Mansour crossed the border through the Pakistani region of Baluchistan they sent 'drones' that hit Mullah MansourIt was a critical moment in the foreign policy of the Barack Obama administration, as it had considered taking a step towards peace talks, but it also sent a message to Pakistan: The United States would take action on its ground if necessary, without warning.

placeholderThe death of Mullah Mansour, in the Pakistani press (Reuters)
The death of Mullah Mansour, in the Pakistani press (Reuters)

After Mansour's death, the Ulema Haibatulá Ajundzada was elevated to the position of Taliban leader , who during the regime had been Chief Justice, the main person in charge of the application of the 'sharia' in Afghanistan.In 2019 the brother of the Taliban leader died in a explosion in a mosque near Quetta (Pakistan), carried out by means of a device with a timer placed under the chair of the prayer leader. The current structure of the Taliban is deeply irregular: Mullah Mohamed Yaqub, son of the founder of the Taliban, Mohamed Omar, is the military leader of the organization and, unlike the leader, is committed to some liberalization in social policies and a negotiated solution, according to the expert from the Royal Institute of United Services of London, Antonio Giustozzi. At the top of the Taliban is another "moderate", the chief negotiator of the peace talks with Doha (Qatar), Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar.

How are the Taliban financed?

The Taliban movement is largely dependent on drugs . In the past, the Taliban were accused of being involved in the trafficking of human organs, extracted mainly from children without resources and without names, as denounced in 2001 by the Revolutionary Organization of Women of Afghanistan (Rawa). Even then, the coffers of the Taliban were being filled at the expense of the tax on the traffic of opium, a raw material for the manufacture of heroin , and although before the war the militiamen banned the cultivation of poppies, after the end of the Taliban regime it was reestablished: The United States and NATO considered that 60% of the financing of the Taliban movement in Afghanistan came from drug trafficking, thanks to an area of ​​crops equivalent to 30 times the size of Barcelona.


In addition, the Taliban tax companies, profit from the fuel trade in border areas under their control, and operate illegal mines within the country. In addition, the Taliban receive external funds from sympathizers, mainly from Pakistan and the Gulf countries. According to NATO researchers, the Taliban raise about $ 1.6 billion each year .

Publicar un comentario

Artículo Anterior Artículo Siguiente