The Taliban was formed in the early 1990s by an Afghan faction of mujahideen, Islamic fighters who had resisted the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan (1979–89) with the covert backing of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency and its Pakistani counterpart, the Inter-Services Intelligence directorate (ISI).
The Taliban is a predominantly Pashtun, Islamic fundamentalist group that ruled Afghanistan from 1996 until 2001, when a U.S.-led invasion toppled the regime for providing refuge to al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden.
Mullah Omar, a cleric and veteran of the anti-Soviet resistance, led Taliban-ruled Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001 as amir al-mu'minin, or "commander of the faithful."
The Taliban’s declared aims included the restoration of peace, rigid enforcement of Islamic law, disarming the population, and defending the Islamic character of Afghanistan.
- The Taliban is a religious dictatorship. Those under Taliban rule are not free to practice their own religion, nor can they criticize the regime’s governing policies.
- The Taliban applies a severe interpretation of Islam and the Koran; the group believes that Islamic law must be strictly followed.
- The group’s ideological foundation revolves around the strict interpretation and enforcement of Sharia Law, which does not honor politics or political parties.
- The Taliban believes that the world is divided into infidels and believers or followers of the Islamic faith. They use this ideology and their radical religious interpretations to justify their barbaric attacks and suicide bombings. They believe that such attacks are part of their jihad, or holy war, and a fundamental component of their beliefs.
- The Taliban supports and implements severe Islamic punishments, including public executions of convicted adulterers and murders and amputations of those convicted of theft.
- Under Taliban rule, men are required to grow beards and women are forced to wear burkas to refrain from showing any skin. Television, cinema and music are also banned by the Taliban.
- The Taliban bans music, other than religious song, unaccompanied by instruments. Television, movies and videos are banned. So is kite-flying, seen as a distraction from a life of prayer.
- Taliban rules are meticulously enforced by religious police patrols from the Ministry of Virtue and Vice. The "virtue" squads coordinate Islamic education, while "vice" squads stamp out forbidden evils and enforce the movement's conception of "pure" Islam
- The Taliban espouses a harsh brand of Islam that bars women from working, girls from attending school, forces women to wear the all-encompassing burqa, which covers them from head to toe, and requires them to travel with a male relative.
- Men are forced to grow beards, pray at mosques and cannot wear short pants.