The Taliban

Just who are the“Taliban”?  The word “Taliban” is the Arabic (and Pashto) plural form of “student.”  The singular form is talib. 

The Taliban is a militant Islamic fundamentalist movement which operates in and is composed primarily of fundamentalist Sunni tribesmen from Northern Pakistan and Afghanistan.  The Taliban favor a strict interpretation of Sharia law (the moral code and religious law of Islam).  “Sharia” means “pathway to be followed” in Arabic.  

The Taliban got its start in Afghanistan in the early 1990’s with the power vacuum left by the withdrawal of Soviet forces in 1989.  Through 2001, the Taliban were actually supported by the Pakistani ISI (Inter-Services Intelligence) and some speculate that this support may actually be ongoing.  The Taliban is a political and military force to be reckoned with in these desperately poor areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan.  The Taliban are violent — accounting for three quarters of all casualties in Afghanistan since the U.S. became involved in that country.  They are especially known for cruelty and brutality toward women.  Religious police beat women on the streets if an ankle shows beneath their full burqa.  Women receive limited medical attention, and schools and work for women are forbidden.  And on and on. . . .  The Taliban has banned music and theaters and has destroyed priceless cultural artifacts which “offend.” 

Al-Qaeda, which also pushes violent jihad, fundamentalism and Sharia law, is distinct – and should not be confused with the Taliban (except perhaps in deserving universal condemnation).  Al-Qaeda, the Taliban and Pakistan’s armed forces teamed up in the mid-90’s against the Northern Alliance (mainly Tajiks) who waged a sectarian war over the new political establishment in Afghanistan.       

As I write about these characters, I (and I’m sure many) get angry . . . .  What do you/we do about these characters?  Should we do anything?  Hmmm?  What would you do — if anything?   It occurred to me that Mitch Rapp may be the ideal solution to the Taliban problem (see post of August 25, 2011).

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