Modern Terrorism Roots in the Afghan Civil War From the mujahideen to the taliban

Operation Cyclone

Following the assassination of US ambassador to Afghanistan Adolph Dubs, the United States retracted its support for the DRA, and began a secret CIA program known as Operation Cyclone. This program armed and financed the Mujahideen with many weapons and over 1 billion dollars. Overall, Operation Cyclone was the United States's attempt to fight the Soviet's communist influence in Afghanistan without getting directly involved.

The Mujahideen relied heavily on the United States' support of weapons and money.

As you've learned, the Afghan communist party known as the Democratic Party of Afghanistan sided with the Soviet Union, obviously because of their shared communist agenda, which was outlined by the Brezhnev Doctrine. Additionally, Operation Cyclone marked the beginning of the United States' opposition to the communist Afghan government, and its support for the Mujahideen. The problem, however, was that the Mujahideen and the United States were not fighting the DRA for the same reasons. The Mujahideen was only fighting for Islamic representation in the Afghan government, whereas the United States was fighting in an attempt to prevent the spawning of a communist government in Afghanistan. These mixed religious and political motives lead to conflicting goals later down the road.

The Mujahideen and the United States both shared the short term goal to overthrow the DRA, but their reasons for having this goal were vastly different.
City of Kabul during the transition time period as Soviet forces withdrew from Afghanistan and beginning of their civil war began.
The body of a young girl, who was killed by the powerful blast of a bomb, is carried by Afghan firefighters. The powerful bomb shattered rows of homes, along with shops, on May 14, 1988 in downtown Kabul. The explosion was believed to be planted in a truck on the eve of the Soviet Union’s withdrawal from Afghanistan.
February of 1984, in the village of Omarz, wrecked Soviet vehicles are rammed onto the street of Panchir Valley.
Aftermath of a village located in Salang Highway destroyed in the fight between the Islamic fundamentalists, Mujahideen Guerilla fighters, and the Afghan soldiers supported by the Soviet Union.
Physical damage on already minimal infrastructure after twenty-five years of war in Afghanistan. Once a safeguard home, was partly destroyed into nothing more than rubble and dust.
Afghan village wiped out and destroyed by Soviet forces.

The Rise of The Taliban

The Taliban first emerged in the early 1990’s in Pakistan following the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Afghanistan. After spawning in Pakistan, the Taliban quickly migrated to the power vacuum in Afghanistan and became a prominent group. The Taliban were originally Islamic vigilantes, or self-appointed crime punishers, that protected Afghan residents from the banditry while spreading Islamic ideals.

The Rise of Al-Qaeda

In the late 1990’s, the Taliban began harboring another Islamic fundamentalist group known as Al-Qaeda. Al-Qaeda emerged from the network of Islamist fighters who traveled to Afghanistan to join the Mujahideen in their fight against the communists. Al-Qaeda’s long-term goal was to establish a caliphate, or an Islamic state. To achieve this goal, Al-Qaeda perpetrated many terrorist attacks including the events on September 11th, 2001 in an attempt to instill fear in the world. Despite their efforts, Al-Qaeda was not able to achieve an Islamic state..

The Rise of ISIS

ISIS arose from the remains of Al-Qaeda in Iraq but quickly cut off all affiliation with Al-Qaeda in 2014. Likewise, Al-Qaeda had also declared they were not associated with ISIS and could not be held accountable for their words or actions. ISIS consistently attempted to gain territory which Al-Qaeda had never prioritized. Al-Qaeda had not seen territorial gains as being helpful to their ultimate goal of establishing a caliphate. Many Jihadist groups in surrounding countries announced their loyalty to ISIS when they disbanded from Al-Qaeda. Even some of Al-Qaeda’s strongest supporters in the Arabian Peninsula committed themselves to ISIS. ISIS recently has risen to power, to an extent, with an estimated 31,500 fighters compared to Al-Qaeda’s estimated 15,000.

Ultimately, a simple Afghan group’s fight for Islamic representation led to the formation of many more radical groups willing to perpetrate massive attacks for the spreading of Islamic ideals. As a result, the United States’ aid to the Mujahideen in their fight against an unaccepting communist government was a catalyst for the spreading of radical Jihadist Islam that ended up having devastating effects for the United States.

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