In one of the harshest countries in the world, both socially and geographically, a notorious regime emerged to fill the leadership void left by years of war. At first, they were greeted as bringers of hope to a hopeless society, but soon after brought oppression and fear to all. The Taliban, or “students,” were only brought to the attention of most westerners after the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. However, they have a much deeper history rooted as far back as the Soviet Union’s invasion and occupation of the region. In order to comprehend the rise, fall and re-emergence of the Taliban, three men must be mentioned: Mohammad Omar, Ahmad Shah Massoud, and the most famous terrorist alive, Osama bin Laden.
During the last days of the Afghanistan Soviet Union conflict, it was apparent that the less equipped and heavily disadvantaged Mujahedeen, or freedom fighter, were going to be victorious. This was due mainly to the convert help that they were given by the United Stated of America in the form of money and arms. One anonymous prayer leader became a legend on the battlefield for his bravery and tenacity against his Russian foes. Mohammad Omar or Mullah Omar, left his madrassa, took up arms, declared Jihad on the invading Soviet Union, and even lost his right eye in a legendary battle with the Soviets. Also, there were many volunteers from all over the Islamic world arriving in Pakistan to join the Mujahedeen in their quest for freedom. Among them was a wealthy Saudi named Osama bin Laden who brought much needed money and construction techniques that aided the Afghanis greatly. Also emerging in the conflict was a military genius named Ahmad Shah Massoud. His strategies and battle prowess earn him the nickname “Lion of Panjshir” and the post of defense minister in 1992. Now all three major players are in line to bring about events that will ultimately bring about attacks and wars that will affect the entire world.
The beginning of the meteoric rise of Mullah Omar began sometime in the spring of 1994 when a local warlord kidnapped two teenage girls and brought them back to his headquarters. There, they were repeatedly raped and humiliated by the warlord commander, who controlled the area with fear and intimidation. There was nothing the residents could do but request the aid of the prayer leader in the local Madrassa, the one-eyed Soviet war veteran, Mullah Omar. Mullah Omar organized 30 Taliban members armed with only 16 rifles and stormed the stronghold in a tank they had commandeered. Eventually, the girls were freed and the warlord killed and hung from the barrel of the tank for all to see. According to the Pakistani journalist Rahimullah Yusufzai, Mohammad Omar had a vision from Allah, to pick up arms and fight the various warlords oppressing the citizens of Afghanistan. Thus begins his quest for leadership of this unstable country. Momentum quickly picked up for the Taliban as they began systematically taking parts of Afghanistan that were outside the reach of the government situated in Kabul. Within a three month period, Omar and his small army of Islamic students overtook twelve of the thirty four provinces not controlled by the central government. Upon each conquest, the Taliban imposed Wahhabism on the residents of that area. Wahhabism is a radical interpretation of Sharia law that follows the teachings of Muhammad ibn Abd-al-Wahhab, which promotes the purging of all things considered “impure” within the Islamic faith. Women were restricted severely under the Taliban. They were not allowed to work, wear revealing clothing, take a taxi without a close male relative, not allowed to have an education, not allowed to receive any kind of health care, and they were not allowed to laugh loudly enough for others to hear. They were also required to wear a burqa, a dress covering the entire body except for the eyes at all times. Beheading and other forms of execution were common place in a public...
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