Historica Wiki


The Mujahideen ("Holy Warriors") are an Islamist organization founded in 1975 in Pakistan to prevent the modernization of Afghanistan after the 1973 Afghan Revolution. They united to fight the Soviet Union in the 1980s, but after taking power in 1992 they divided into many groups, among them the Taliban and Northern Alliance.


US President Ronald Reagan meeting with Mujahideen leaders in the White House.

Mujahideen crossing from Pakistan to Afghanistan

The Mujahideen were founded in 1975 in Pakistan by Islamic leaders opposed to the modernization of the Daoud Republic of Afghanistan, many of the leaders in Pakistan actually being Afghan sheikhs in exile. With the seizure of power in Afghanistan of the People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA) communists in 1978, the Mujahideen found a new enemy, but also a new ally; the United States, fearful of a spread of communism in the Middle East, sent weapons and training to the Mujahideen.

Mujahideen in Khost in 1986

In 1979, the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan to aid the government against the rebels. China, having split with the Soviets in 1969, sent their aid to the Mujahideen to stop the spread of Soviet influence so close to home. Colonel Tian Zhao was sent by China to train the Mujahideen, making contact with American trainers Jason Hudson, Frank Woods, and Alex Mason in Khost in 1986. The Mujahideen, given American and Chinese arms, were reinforced daily by followers from around the Muslim world, mainly Pakistan. These foreign fighters proved to be useful in spreading the notion that the Soviet-Afghan War was a struggle by the Muslims against the infidel.

By 1985 the mujahideen waged war in every province, and although the Soviets had control of all the major cities and sufffered less losses, the Mujahideen were all inspired by the jihad and were constantly reinforced. In 1989, the Soviets withdrew from Afghanistan to cut their losses, and the Mujahideen took control of the country in 1992. 

Mohammed Omar

Unification against the Soviets was the only factor that kept the mujahideen united under the jihad flag. After the fall of the communist Afghan government, the Mujahideen warlords fought each other for supremacy in the 1990s. Abdul Rashid Dostum and Ahmad Shah Massoud formed the Northern Alliance of Hazaras, Tajiks, and Uzbeks, among others, to fight the Taliban Islamic fundamentalists, who were aided by the Al-Qaeda terrorist network.

By 2001, Afghanistan was in Taliban hands, but that year, the United States invaded Afghanistan after Al-Qaeda massacred 3,000 civilians in the 9/11 attacks. The USA took control and the Northern Alliance leaders became the new government, made up now not only of Pashtuns, but other ethnic groups. However, in 2002 the opium harvest gave the Taliban a new source of income, and they launched a new offensive. The Taliban continued an insurgency, led by Mullah Mohammed Omar