Sunday, September 20, 2009

Taliban Twitter

The Taliban (Pashto: طالبان ṭālibān, meaning "students"), also Taleban, is a Sunni Islamist, predominantly Pashtun fundamentalist religious and political movement that governed Afghanistan from 1996 until 2001, when its leaders were removed from power by NATO forces. It has regrouped and since 2004 revived as a strong insurgency movement governing at the local level and fighting a guerrilla war against the governments of Afghanistan, Pakistan, allied NATO forces participating in Operation Enduring Freedom, and the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). It operates in Afghanistan and the Frontier Tribal Areas of Pakistan.

The Taliban movement is headed by Mullah Mohammed Omar. Mullah Omar's original commanders were "a mixture of former small-unit military commanders and madrasah teachers," and the rank and file made up mostly of Afghan refugees who had studied at Islamic religious schools in Pakistan. The overwhelming majority of the Taliban movement were ethnic Pashtuns from southern Afghanistan and western Pakistan[7], along with a smaller number of volunteers from Islamic countries. The Taliban received valuable training, supplies and arms from the Pakistani government, particularly the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), and many recruits from madrasahs for Afghan refugees in Pakistan, primarily ones established by the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI).

Although in control of Afghanistan's capital (Kabul) and much or most of the country for five years, the Taliban regime, which called itself the "Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan", gained diplomatic recognition from only three states: Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. It has gained some amount of political control and acceptance in Pakistan's border region, but recently lost one of its key leaders, Baitullah Mehsud, in a CIA assassination.

The Taliban is today classified by security analysts as an "alternative government" in Afghanistan. It operates fifteen Sharia law courts in the country's southern provinces handling civil and commercial cases and collects taxes on harvests in farming areas. Reflecting its persistent power to intimidate the populace, the Taliban implemented one of the "strictest interpretation of Sharia law ever seen in the Muslim world", yet still occasionally updates its code of conduct. In mid-2009, it established an ombudsman office in northern Kandahar, which has been described as a "direct challenge" to the ISAF

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