The Taliban is an Islamist movement and political organization in Afghanistan which was founded in 1994 by Mohammed Omar. Omar was one of 90,000 Afghan Mujahideen who were trained by Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence during the Soviet-Afghan War in the 1980s, and, after the Soviet withdrawal and the collapse of the communist Democratic Republic of Afghanistan in 1992, the country fell into a state of civil war as warlords vied for power. In 1994, Omar formed the Taliban to liberate Afghanistan from the corrupt Islamic State of Afghanistan government, overthrow the warlords, and establish an Islamic government in Kabul governed by Pashtun customs and a strict interpretation of Islamic sharia law. The Taliban ("students") movement drew its name from its origins as a movement of students educated at conservative madrassas in Pakistan, and its membership was predominantly Pashtun. Based in Kandahar, Omar and his Taliban movement - with support from the Pakistani military and intelligence services - seized control of Kabul in 1996 and established the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, which was granted diplomatic recognition by several Persian Gulf kingdoms. The Taliban soon found themselves facing a Northern Alliance of Uzbeks, Hazaras, Tajiks, and other ethnic minorities (as well as moderate Pashtuns), and, by 2001, they controlled the vast majority of the country, bar its northernmost provinces. The Taliban banned music, televisions, CDs, and education for women, and they even regulated the wearing of beards. Omar's hardline Islamist regime allowed for jihadist groups such as al-Qaeda and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan to use Afghanistan as a safe haven, and it was from Afghanistan that the 9/11 attacks against the United States on 11 September 2001 were planned. In retaliation, the United States launched an invasion of Afghanistan in the fall of 2001 to deny al-Qaeda a safe haven in Afghanistan and to overthrow the allied Taliban regime in Kabul. By then, 30,000 Pakistani nationals, 15,000 Afghans, and 3,000 al-Qaeda foreign fighters were fighting for the Taliban; from 1994 to 1999, up to 100,000 Pakistanis had fought for the Taliban regime, and Pakistanis made up 40% of the Taliban by 1998. While the US and Northern Alliance forces quickly liberated much of Afghanistan, the Pakistani military airlifted several key al-Qaeda and Taliban leaders (including Osama Bin Laden) across the Pakistani border and to safety, and the Taliban waited until the opium harvest of 2002 enabled them to launch a new offensive into Afghanistan from Pakistan. The Taliban and their allies proceeded to engage in an insurgency against the internationally-backed Afghan government and its US-led ISAF coalition allies, funded by the sale of opium and by private donors from Saudi Arabia, trained by Pakistan's ISI intelligence wing, and based in both Afghanistan and in the tribal belt on both sides of the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. The partial withdrawal of international troops in 2011-2014 enabled a resurgence in Taliban activity and the group's brief recapture of Kunduz in 2015; the Taliban continued to grow in strength due to the increasingly sectarian nature of the conflict, as the Afghan government was dominated by warlords from the Tajik, Uzbek, and Hazara communities in addition to moderate Pashtuns, and the warlords' militias also carried out atrocities against Pashtun communities. The United States' withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2021 led to the Taliban's most significant and successful offensive in years, with the Taliban coming to own or contest 70% of Afghanistan's territory as the Afghan National Army launched a series of strategic withdrawals or fled across the border and into Tajikistan.
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