Also Known As:
The Taliban (Pashto for “students”) are the predominant umbrella group for the Afghan insurgency, including the semi-autonomous Haqqani network. (The Taliban’s offspring across the border, the Pakistani Taliban, share the ideology and objectives of its namesake but operate independently and focus on overthrowing the Pakistani government.) In 2014, the “core Taliban” were estimated to include over 60,000 fighters with varying degrees of loyalty.“Despite Massive Taliban Death Toll, No Drop in Insurgency,” Voice of America, March 6, 2014, http://www.voanews.com/content/despite-massive-taliban-death-toll-no-drop-in-insurgency/1866009.html. These forces have allowed the Taliban to remain a credible fighting force with the ability to win and hold territory. According to a U.N. report released in September 2015, the Taliban had reclaimed more territory in Afghanistan by that time than at any point since the 2001 U.S.-led coalition invaded in response to the September 11 attacks.Rod Nordland and Joseph Goldstein, “Afghan Taliban’s Reach Is Widest since 2001, U.N. Says,” CNBC, October 11, 2015, http://www.cnbc.com/2015/10/11/new-york-times-digital-afghan-talibanas-reach-is-widest-since-2001-un-says.html. By September 2017, the Taliban reportedly controlled or contested up to 45 percent of Afghanistan.Bill Roggio and Alexandra Gutowski, “LWJ Map Assessment: Taliban controls or contests 45% of Afghan districts,” Long War Journal, September 26, 2017, https://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2017/09/lwj-map-assessment-taliban-controls-or-contests-45-of-afghan-districts.php.
The Taliban’s current leader, announced in May 2016, is Haibatullah Akhundzada.Shereena Qazi, “Afghan Taliban: Haibatullah Akhunzada Named New Leader,” Al Jazeera, May 25, 2016, http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2016/05/afghan-taliban-haibatullah-akhunzada-leader-160525045301080.html;
“Profile: New Taliban Chief Mawlawi Hibatullah Akhundzada,” BBC News, May 26, 2016, http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-36377008;
Mushtaq Yusufzai, Fazul Rahim, and Wajahat S. Khan, “ Haibatullah Akhundzada Named New Leader of Afghan Taliban,” NBC News, May 25, 2016, http://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/taliban-confirm-death-leader-u-s-strike-announce-replacement-n579921;
Sune Engel Rasmussen and Jon Boone, “Afghan Taliban appoint Mullah Haibatullah Akhundzada as new leader,” Guardian (London), May 25, 2016, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/may/25/taliban-new-leader-death-confirm-mullah-mansoor-haibatullah-akhundzada. The Taliban were founded in 1994 by Mullah Mohammed Omar in Kandahar to impose a puritanical Islamic order on Afghanistan. The Taliban’s roots can be traced to the Pakistani-trained mujahideen who fought against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. The predominantly Pashtun tribesmen that comprised the Taliban quickly consolidated power by force throughout Afghanistan and, in 1996, seized control of the capital, Kabul. The “Emirate of Afghanistan,” as the Taliban refer to their domain, was born. With generous financial support from Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, especially the latter’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency, the Taliban enforced a strict code of sharia (Islamic law) and harbored al-Qaeda and other jihadist organizations. The Taliban-run government in Afghanistan was recognized by only three countries: Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
While the Taliban hosted al-Qaeda, Osama bin Laden’s group ran training camps and planned and executed numerous terrorist attacks, including the multiple airplane hijackings and strikes against the United States on September 11, 2001. In the aftermath of 9/11, the Taliban rejected a U.S. ultimatum to turn over bin Laden and kick out al-Qaeda. In response, the U.S. and allied countries invaded Afghanistan and swiftly deposed the Taliban government.
Since being driven out of Kabul, the Taliban have operated as an insurgent force in both Afghanistan and Pakistan, attempting to expel NATO forces from Afghanistan and defeat the democratically-elected Afghan government. Attacks on Afghanistan’s security forces have increased as Western forces have begun to withdraw from the country in recent years. As government authority has weakened, Taliban forces have filled the vacuum. By December 2015, vast swathes of Helmand Province had fallen to the Taliban. U.S. Special Operations forces responded by taking aggressive steps to halt this advance.David Jolly and Taimoor Shahdec, “Afghan Province, Teetering to the Taliban, Draws In Extra U.S. Forces,” New York Times, December 13, 2015, http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/14/world/asia/afghan-province-teetering-to-the-taliban-draws-in-extra-us-forces.html. One year later, according to the Pentagon, the Taliban retained control of less than 10 percent of the Afghan population, while another roughly 26 percent remained contested.Jamie McIntyre, “US general Says Afghan forces ‘Prevailing’ in Fight against Taliban,” Washington Examiner, December 2, 2016, http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/us-general-says-afghan-forces-prevailing-in-fight-against-taliban/article/2608731. As of April 2017, though, Taliban forces reportedly controlled or contested up to 43 percent of Afghanistan.Josh Smith and Hamid Shalizi, “Afghan Taliban's brazen attack eclipses Trump’s ‘mother of all bombs,’” Reuters, April 23, 2017, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-afghanistan-taliban-analysis-idUSKBN17P0RJ.
The Taliban’s wing in Pakistan has repeatedly attacked the Pakistani government and the country’s civilians. Such attacks include the October 2012 shooting of 15-year-old education activist Malala Yousafzai as well as the December 2014 massacre of 132 children at an army-run school in Peshawar. On January 20, 2016, the Taliban claimed responsibility for two attacks that together claimed over 20 lives: one targeting a university near Peshawar, and the other on a news crew in Kabul.David Jolly and Jawad Sukhanyar, “Taliban Suicide Bomber Strikes Packed Bus in Kabul,” New York Times, January 20, 2016, https://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/21/world/asia/afghanistan-kabul-suicide-bombing.html?mcubz=0&_r=0;
Declan Walsh, Ihsanullah Tipu Mehsud, and Ismail Khan, “Taliban Attack at Bacha Khan University in Pakistan Renews Fears,” New York Times, January 20, 2016, https://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/21/world/asia/bacha-khan-university-attack-charsadda.html?mcubz=0. In August 2016, the Taliban forged a ceasefire with ISIS after more than a year of intense combat between the radical Islamist groups.Jessica Donati and Habib Khan Totakhil, “Taliban, Islamic State Forge Informal Alliance in Eastern Afghanistan,” Wall Street Journal, August 7, 2016, http://www.wsj.com/articles/taliban-islamic-state-forge-informal-alliance-in-eastern-afghanistan-1470611849.
Russia was recently accused by senior American generals of arming the Taliban. General Curtis Scaparrotti, NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander, Europe and the commander of U.S. European Command, warned in March 2017 that “I've seen the influence of Russia of late—increased influence in terms of association and perhaps even supply to the Taliban.”Phil Stewart and Idrees Ali, “Russia May Be Helping Supply Taliban Insurgents: U.S. General,” Reuters, March 23, 2017, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-afghanistan-russia-idUSKBN16U234. Likewise, the top American commander in Afghanistan, General John Nicholson, said in April 2017 that Russia is providing weapons to the Taliban.“U.S. General Suggests Russia Arming Taliban,” Associated Press, April 24, 2017, https://apnews.com/75ea46b808e7448ebf3b54a681243011/The-Latest:-US-general-suggests-Russia-arming-Taliban. Taliban officials claim that the group has had prominent contacts with Russia since at least 2007, but that Russia’s role with respect to the Taliban does not go beyond “moral and political support.”Phil Stewart and Idrees Ali, “Russia May Be Helping Supply Taliban Insurgents: U.S. General,” Reuters, March 23, 2017, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-afghanistan-russia-idUSKBN16U234. Russia denies that it is aiding the Taliban, claiming that Moscow is simply trying to get the group to engage in diplomatic negotiations.Phil Stewart and Idrees Ali, “Russia May Be Helping Supply Taliban Insurgents: U.S. General,” Reuters, March 23, 2017, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-afghanistan-russia-idUSKBN16U234.
The Taliban are an Islamist movement that seeks to establish a caliphate under sharia (Islamic law). Islamists of this mold embrace Salafism, an austere and radical interpretation of Islam, holding that Muslims should emulate the actions of the first generation of Muslim leaders, who are known as the righteous. The Taliban repudiate more than 1,000 years of Islamic jurisprudence and instead impose a strict code of Islamic law.Michael Semple, Rhetoric, Ideology and Organizational Structure of the Taliban Movement (Washington, DC: United States Institute of Peace, 2014), http://www.usip.org/publications/rhetoric-ideology-and-organizational-structure-of-the-taliban-movement. Under Taliban rule, a religious police force was officially established under the guise of “the Ministry for the Suppression of Vice and the Promotion of Virtue.”Ahmed Rashid, Taliban (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2010), 90.
This fundamentalist ideology was evident in the name they adopted. They called themselves Taliban (students) and embraced the strict Deobandi interpretation of the faith.Ahmed Rashid, Taliban (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2010), 88. This school was a branch of Sunni Hanafi Islam that developed in the late nineteenth century in the madrassas (religious schools) of British India.“Deobandis,” Oxford Islamic Studies Online, accessed May 1, 2015, http://www.oxfordislamicstudies.com/article/opr/t125/e522?_hi=1&_pos=2. The Deobandis emphasized Islamic learning, and aimed to raise a new generation of pious Muslims who would learn the Quran as well as the lived experience of Islam’s prophet Muhammad. The Deobandis’ vision consigned women and Shiite Muslims to the margins of society, and flattened all forms of hierarchy in the ummah (community of believers).Ahmed Rashid, Taliban (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2010), 88.
The Taliban’s fundamentalist ideology is overlaid with a strong Pashtun tribal affiliation. In addition to stoking rivalries between Afghanistan’s non-Pashtun ethnic groups, the Taliban’s tribal emphasis on being a good host dictated that it maintain good relations with al-Qaeda despite doctrinal disputes.Lawrence Wright, The Looming Tower (New York: Vintage Books, 2006), 325. One of the fiercest disputes between the Taliban and al-Qaeda regarded the Saudi royal family, which simultaneously opposed al-Qaeda’s brand of radicalism while financing the madrassas (Muslim schools) in Pakistan that helped foster and maintain the Taliban’s influence.Emran Qureshi, “Taliban,” Oxford Islamic Studies Online, accessed May 8, 2015, http://www.oxfordislamicstudies.com/article/opr/t236/e08954.
After seizing power in Kabul in 1996, the Taliban announced its aims to impose order, disarm the Afghan population (especially rival ethnic groups), enforce sharia, and defend the Islamic character of the “Emirate of Afghanistan.”Ahmed Rashid, Taliban (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2010), 22. The Taliban banned most sporting events and forms of entertainment, from poetry and music to kites. They closed all girls’ schools and prohibited women from appearing in public except under strict supervision by a male relative. Even when women were in their respective homes, the windows were painted black to prevent passersby from glimpsing women in their private quarters.Ahmed Rashid, Taliban (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2010), 90.
The Taliban promotes jihad as a “divine obligation,” while failure to support jihad is a sin, according to a June 2017 propaganda video.Bill Roggio and Caleb Weiss, “Taliban promotes 4 previously unidentified training camps in Afghanistan,” Long War Journal, June 26, 2017, http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2017/06/taliban-promotes-4-previously-unidentified-training-camps-in-afghanistan.php. Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid has particularly encouraged jihad during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, as the heavenly reward is multiplied during that time.Bill Roggio, “Jihad during Ramadan is ‘obligatory,’ Taliban spokesman says,” Long War Journal, May 30, 2017, http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2017/05/jihad-during-ramadan-is-obligatory-taliban-spokesman-says.php.
Since the rise of ISIS, the Taliban have emphasized preserving pan-Islamic unity. Following al-Qaeda’s example, the Taliban have advised ISIS to “avoid extremism” that risks splintering the violent Islamist movement across the broader Middle East.Greg Pollowitz, “The Taliban Warns ISIS of Being Too Extreme,” National Review, July 13, 2014, http://www.nationalreview.com/feed/382615/taliban-warns-isis-being-too-extreme-greg-pollowitz. Mullah Omar in particular reaffirmed the Taliban’s priority of establishing a unified Islamist movement to expel the “far enemy” (the Western powers). Omar referred to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi as a “fake caliph,” asserting, “Baghdadi just wanted to dominate what has so far been achieved by the real jihadists of Islam after three decades of jihad. A pledge of allegiance to him is ‘haram.’”“Taliban leader: allegiance to ISIS ‘haram,’” Rudaw, April 13, 2015, http://rudaw.net/english/middleeast/130420151. Despite these warnings, hundreds of Taliban members have joined ISIS’s Pakistani branch.Mushtaq Yusufzai, “ISIS in Pakistan and Afghanistan: Taliban Fighters Sign up, Commanders Say,” NBC News, January 31, 2015, http://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/isis-pakistan-afghanistan-taliban-fighters-sign-commanders-say-n296707.
For most of their existence, the Taliban were led by their founder, Mullah Mohammed Omar, a.k.a. the Emir ul-Momineen (commander of the faithful). In July 2015, an Afghan government spokesman reported that Omar had died in April 2013. The Taliban confirmed the leader’s death, and reportedly appointed Deputy Emir Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansour as Omar’s successor. On May 25, 2016, four days after Mansour was killed in a U.S. drone strike, the Taliban’s senior leadership announced that Mullah Haibatullah Akhundzada would succeed Mansour as emir of the Taliban.Mujib Mashal and Taimoor Shah, “Taliban’s New Leader, More Scholar Than Fighter, Is Slow to Impose Himself,” New York Times, July 11, 2016, http://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/12/world/asia/taliban-afghanistan-pakistan-mawlawi-haibatullah-akhundzada.html?ref=asia&smid=tw-nytimesworld&smtyp=cur.
As the emir of the Taliban, Akhundzada is responsible for overseeing the courts and judges.Abubakar Siddique, “The Quetta Shura: Understanding the Afghan Taliban’s Leadership,” Terrorism Monitor 12, no. 4 (February 21, 2014), http://www.jamestown.org/programs/tm/single/?tx_ttnews%5Btt_news%5D=42006&cHash=7af7678306a23ff6734f35e261b15b90#.VTVCgyHBzGc. He also oversees the 11 Taliban commissions, which deal with the military, politics, culture, economics, health, education, outreach and guidance, prisoners, non-governmental organizations, martyrs and disabled persons, and civilian casualties.“Fifth report of the Analytical Support and Sanctions Monitoring Team, submitted pursuant to resolution 2160 (2014) concerning the Taliban and other associated individuals and entities constituting a threat to the peace, stability and security of Afghanistan,” United Nations Security Council, December 11, 2014, http://www.un.org/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=S/2014/888. In August 2016, Maulvi Ibrahim Sadar was appointed the military commander of the Taliban.Kathy Gannon, “Taliban Appoint Military Chief As The New Leader Settles In,” Associated Press, August 30, 2016, http://bigstory.ap.org/article/fd49b393c9fc4f2a9aa988382f3af3cf/taliban-appoints-new-military-chief-new-leader-settles.
The group’s ruling council, called the Quetta Shura, is responsible for much of the Taliban’s operations in southern and western Afghanistan.Abubakar Siddique, “The Quetta Shura: Understanding the Afghan Taliban’s Leadership,” Terrorism Monitor 12, no. 4 (February 21, 2014), http://www.jamestown.org/programs/tm/single/?tx_ttnews%5Btt_news%5D=42006&cHash=7af7678306a23ff6734f35e261b15b90#.VTVCgyHBzGc;
Jeffrey A. Dressler, “Securing Helmand,” Institute for the Study of War, September 2009, http://www.understandingwar.org/sites/default/files/SecuringHelmandPDF.pdf. The Shura consists of an estimated 23 to 46 members. It was founded in the winter of 2002, when Omar allegedly relocated the Taliban organization to Quetta, Pakistan.Jeffrey A. Dressler, “Securing Helmand,” Institute for the Study of War, September 2009, http://www.understandingwar.org/sites/default/files/SecuringHelmandPDF.pdf. In November 2016, the Shura reportedly relocated to Afghanistan’s southern Helmand province.Haider Ali Sindhu, “Taliban’s Infamous ‘Quetta Shura’ Has Been Relocated to Afghanistan to Establish ‘Permenant Residence,’” Daily Pakistan, November 28, 2016, https://en.dailypakistan.com.pk/headline/talibans-infamous-quetta-shura-has-been-relocated-to-afghanistan-to-establish-permenant-residence/.
Below the emir sits the deputy emir, reported to be Sirajuddin Haqqani.Ahmad Murid Partaw, “The Haqqanization of the Afghan Taliban,” Foreign Policy Journal, July 15, 2016, http://www.foreignpolicyjournal.com/2016/07/15/the-haqqanization-of-the-afghan-taliban/. The deputy emir oversees the leadership and consultative councils, responsible for determining the “political and military affairs of the Emirate,” according to the United Nations.“Fifth report of the Analytical Support and Sanctions Monitoring Team, submitted pursuant to resolution 2160 (2014) concerning the Taliban and other associated individuals and entities constituting a threat to the peace, stability and security of Afghanistan,” United Nations Security Council, December 11, 2014, http://www.un.org/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=S/2014/888. Below the councils sit the judges, who reportedly run courts inside Afghanistan at the supreme, provincial, and district levels.“Fifth report of the Analytical Support and Sanctions Monitoring Team, submitted pursuant to resolution 2160 (2014) concerning the Taliban and other associated individuals and entities constituting a threat to the peace, stability and security of Afghanistan,” United Nations Security Council, December 11, 2014, http://www.un.org/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=S/2014/888.
According to a report by General Stanley McChrystal, former commander of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and U.S. forces in Afghanistan, the Quetta Shura reportedly appoints a simulated government structure for Afghanistan, assigning “shadow” governors to many Afghan provinces and reviewing the performance of each governor.Thomas Joscelyn, “The Taliban’s shadow government,” Long War Journal, September 24, 2009, http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2009/09/the_talibans_shadow_government.php. In 2009, the Shura established a committee to receive complaints about the governors from Afghani locals. The Shura “[installs] ‘shari’a’ courts to deliver swift and enforced justice in contested and controlled areas. [It levies] taxes and [conscripts] fighters and laborers.” It claims “to provide security against a corrupt government, ISAF forces, criminality, and local power brokers [and] to protect Afghan and Muslim identity against foreign encroachment.”Thomas Joscelyn, “The Taliban’s shadow government,” Long War Journal, September 24, 2009, http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2009/09/the_talibans_shadow_government.php.
According to a 2009 Institute for the Study of War report, “[the Quetta Shura continues] to refer to [itself] as the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, despite being removed from power in 2001…the Taliban see themselves as the legitimate government of Afghanistan and aim to extend their control over the entirety of the country.”
While the Quetta Shura runs the Taliban’s insurgency in southern and western Afghanistan, a Taliban military commission in Peshawar, Pakistan, reportedly directs the insurgency in Afghanistan’s north and east. The Peshawar military commission reportedly oversees a total of 20 provinces divided into six command zones, one of which falls under the Haqqani network’s purview.“The Taliban,” Council on Foreign Relations, accessed April 13, 2015, http://www.cfr.org/terrorist-organizations-and-networks/taliban/p35985?cid=marketing_use-taliban_infoguide-012115#!/.
In January 2017, Reuters reported that Akhundzada had recently replaced Taliban shadow governors in 16 of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces and appointed eight additional provincial-level officials as part of an effort “to consolidate his influence over the insurgency.” One of the shadow-gubernatorial appointments, Baz Mohammad for Wardak province, was viewed as particularly significant for Akhundzada’s position because Mohammad had been in a splinter group that had rebelled against former Taliban leader Mansour.Sami Yusufzai and Jibran Ahmad, “Afghan Taliban’s New Chief Replaces 24 ‘Shadow’ Officials,” Reuters, January 27, 2017, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-afghanistan-taliban-idUSKBN15B1PN?il=0.
The Pakistani Taliban, formally known as Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), has extensive links to the Taliban, but it remains a distinct organization with its own objectives. TTP distinguishes itself from the Taliban in its primary objective, which is to overthrow the Pakistani state and inaugurate an Islamic state. It is less an organized force than a loose coalition of tribes sympathetic to the broad mission of the Taliban but driven by its own local concerns.Ben Brumfield, “Who are the Pakistani Taliban?,” CNN, December 17, 2014, http://www.cnn.com/2014/12/17/world/asia/pakistan-taliban-explainer/.
The latest estimates of the official Taliban annual budget is roughly $500 million. Unofficially, however, the actual budget is presumed by Western intelligence agencies to be at least double that figure.Joseph Macallef, “How the Taliban Gets Its Cash,” Huffington Post, November 14, 2015, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/joseph-v-micallef/how-the-taliban-gets-its_b_8551536.html.
In its early years, the Taliban received substantial financial support from the governments of Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. The Taliban has also generated much of its revenues from opium production.Ahmed Rashid, Taliban (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2010), 226. While both the Afghan and Pakistani Taliban accrue funds from narcotics, they also profit from foreign donations, illegal gem mining, lumber trade, kidnapping, and extortion.Eric Schmitt, “Many Sources Feed Taliban’s War Chest,” New York Times, October 18, 2009, http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/19/world/asia/19taliban.html;
Matthew Rosenberg, “Taliban Run Into Trouble on Battlefield, but Money Flows Just the Same,” New York Times, June 13, 2014, http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/14/world/asia/for-the-taliban-modest-success-in-battle-but-opium-trade-and-illicit-businesses-boom.html. A 2012 U.N. report estimated that the Taliban collected $400 million in 2011 through extortion, taxes, and drugs. According to that report, the Taliban leadership received $275 million while the rest was misappropriated or spent on local levels.Michelle Nichols, “Taliban raked in $400 million from diverse sources: U.N,” Reuters, September 11, 2012, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-afghanistan-un-taliban/taliban-raked-in-400-million-from-diverse-sources-u-n-idUSBRE88A13Y20120911.
The Taliban reportedly raked in record profits in 2013, with fighters earning so much that they have had no incentive to quit the insurgency.Matthew Rosenberg, “Taliban Run Into Trouble on Battlefield, but Money Flows Just the Same,” New York Times, June 13, 2014, http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/14/world/asia/for-the-taliban-modest-success-in-battle-but-opium-trade-and-illicit-businesses-boom.html. In Pakistan, however, Tehrik e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) factions struggling for funds have turned to kidnapping “wealthy businessmen for ransom,” according to a 2014 U.N. report.Louis Charbonneau, “Taliban Changing from Religious Group to Criminal Enterprise: U.N.,” Reuters, June 13, 2014, http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/06/14/us-afghanistan-taliban-un-idUSKBN0EP02920140614.
The Taliban use hawala, a trust-based financial transfer system that predates the time of the prophet Muhammad. U.S. officials suspect that the Taliban make monthly payments to their fighters and receive hefty donations through hawala.Matthew Green, “Special Report - Stalking the Taliban in Afghan Currency Markets,” Reuters, December 23, 2012, http://uk.reuters.com/article/2012/12/23/uk-afghanistan-hawala-idUKBRE8BM00320121223.
Opium and Cigarettes
In 2009, the U.S. special representative at the time for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, said opium production was not as great an income resource for the Taliban as previously thought. “In the past there was a kind of feeling that the [Taliban’s funds] came from drugs in Afghanistan. That is simply not true.”Jean MacKenzie, “Who is Funding the Afghan Taliban? You Don’t Want to Know,” Reuters, August 13, 2009, http://blogs.reuters.com/global/2009/08/13/who-is-funding-the-afghan-taliban-you-dont-want-to-know/. Pakistan army spokesman General Athar Abbar disagreed with Holbrooke’s statement, saying, “The opium trade is still the backbone of [the TTP’s] funding.”Shahan Mufti, “Funding the Pakistani Taliban,” GlobalPost, May 30, 2010, http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/taliban/funding-the-pakistani-taliban. In 2010, the Pakistani military estimated that the Pakistani Taliban pocketed an average of $200 million every year from Afghani poppy profits.Shahan Mufti, “Funding the Pakistani Taliban,” GlobalPost, May 30, 2010, http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/taliban/funding-the-pakistani-taliban. A 2012 U.N. report estimated that the Taliban earned $100 million from the opium trade in 2011-12.Michelle Nichols, “Taliban raked in $400 million from diverse sources: U.N,” Reuters, September 11, 2012, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-afghanistan-un-taliban/taliban-raked-in-400-million-from-diverse-sources-u-n-idUSBRE88A13Y20120911.
David Cohen, then U.S. Treasury Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, said in 2009 that the Taliban profit from every step in opium production. According to Cohen, the Taliban extort “funds from those involved in the heroin trade by demanding ‘protection’ payments from poppy farmers, drug lab operators and the smugglers who transport the chemicals into, and the heroin out of, the country.”Eric Schmitt, “Many Sources Feed Taliban’s War Chest,” New York Times, October 18, 2009, http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/19/world/asia/19taliban.html. According to sources in the Afghan government, the Taliban claims one-third of the proceeds stemming from Afghanistan’s illegal-but-lucrative $2 billion heroin trade.Joseph Micallef, “How the Taliban Gets Its Cash,” Huffington Post, November 14, 2015, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/joseph-v-micallef/how-the-taliban-gets-its_b_8551536.html.
The TTP also reportedly control the Pakistani trade of counterfeit cigarettes, which may account for 20 percent of their funding. According to a private security analyst in Pakistan, “[the TTP] simply receive taxes on a regular basis from owners of illegal and legal cigarette factories and later for the safe passage they provide to the convoys.”Aamir Latif and Kate Willson, “The Taliban and Tobacco,” Center for Public Integrity, June 29, 2009, http://www.publicintegrity.org/2009/06/29/6340/taliban-and-tobacco.
In 2017, Afghanistan ranked ninth in the world for pistachio production.Khalil Noorzai, “Effort to Revive Afghan Pistachio Crop Hampered by Taliban,” Voice of America, May 4, 2017, https://www.voanews.com/a/effort-revive-afghan-pistachio-crop-hampered-taliban/3838316.html. As of 2017, the Taliban reportedly made $15 million annually from illegally harvesting Afghanistan’s pistachio trees. The Taliban favors pistachios because they do not require cultivation, like peanuts and other nuts, according to Afghanistan’s Agriculture Ministry.John Walsh, “Funding Terrorism: Taliban Earns $15M A Year From Pistachios In Afghanistan,” International Business Times, March 14, 2017, http://www.ibtimes.com/funding-terrorism-taliban-earns-15m-year-pistachios-afghanistan-2508055. The Taliban and other criminals have illegally harvested up to 40 percent of Afghanistan’s pistachio crops, which are typically ripe for picking in mid-summer.Agence France-Presse, “Pistachios, Afghans’ green gold, coveted by Taliban,” Daily Mail (London), July 20, 2016, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/afp/article-3698691/Pistachios-Afghans-green-gold-coveted-Taliban.html. In other areas under Taliban control, the group reportedly collects one-tenth of farmers’ harvests by force. Farmers accuse the Taliban of using the money for weapons, but worry they will be killed if they refuse to turn over their crops. Saad Khatabi, president of the Herat Chamber of Commerce, told Voice of America in May 2017 that the Taliban’s early harvesting of Afghan pistachio crops “damages the agriculture and economy of Afghanistan enormously.”Khalil Noorzai, “Effort to Revive Afghan Pistachio Crop Hampered by Taliban,” Voice of America, May 4, 2017, https://www.voanews.com/a/effort-revive-afghan-pistachio-crop-hampered-taliban/3838316.html.
Misappropriated foreign funds
Private Afghan security companies hired by the United States have reportedly paid off Taliban insurgents with “protection money,” according to the U.N.Michelle Nichols, “Taliban Raked In $400 Million from Diverse Sources: U.N,” Reuters, September 11, 2012, http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/09/11/us-afghanistan-un-taliban-idUSBRE88A13Y20120911. A 2010 NPR report claims that “resupply convoys navigating the hazardous Afghan highway system frequently have to hire security firms to protect them, and as often, these security firms pay off militias that control key stretches of road.”Peter Kenyon, “Exploring the Taliban’s Complex, Shadowy Finances,” National Public Radio, March 19, 2010, http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=124821049. In 2009, U.S. military officials in Kabul estimated that at least 10 percent of the Pentagon’s security contracts eventually end up in Taliban hands—amounting to hundreds of thousands of dollars.Aram Roston, “How the US Funds the Taliban,” Nation, November 11, 2009, http://www.thenation.com/article/how-us-funds-taliban#;
GlobalPost, “Who is funding the Afghan Taliban? You don’t want to know,” Reuters, August 13, 2009, http://blogs.reuters.com/global/2009/08/13/who-is-funding-the-afghan-taliban-you-dont-want-to-know/. Reuters has reported that “many Afghans” support the Taliban’s accruement of foreign funds. According to one Kabul resident, “This is international money. They are not taking it from the people, they are taking it from their enemy.”GlobalPost, “Who is funding the Afghan Taliban? You don’t want to know,” Reuters, August 13, 2009, http://blogs.reuters.com/global/2009/08/13/who-is-funding-the-afghan-taliban-you-dont-want-to-know/.
The Taliban reportedly receive donations from oil-rich Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries.Peter Kenyon, “Exploring the Taliban’s Complex, Shadowy Finances,” National Public Radio, March 19, 2010, http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=124821049. According to a 2009 New York Times report, the Taliban collect funds from anonymous citizens in “Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Iran and some Persian Gulf nations.”Eric Schmitt, “Many Sources Feed Taliban’s War Chest,” New York Times, October 18, 2009, http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/19/world/asia/19taliban.html. Haroun Mir of the Afghanistan Center for Research and Policy Studies said in 2010 that “our estimates are in Afghanistan that between $150 [million] to $200 million every year reaches directly to Taliban via this network of charities that exists in the Gulf countries.”Peter Kenyon, “Exploring the Taliban’s Complex, Shadowy Finances,” National Public Radio, March 19, 2010, http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=124821049. Former Taliban finance minister Agha Jan Motasim told the New York Times in December 2016 that he regularly traveled back and forth to Saudi Arabia to collect donations after the fall of the Taliban government.Carlotta Gall, “Saudi Bankroll Taliban, Even as King Officially Supports Afghan Government,” New York Times, December 6, 2016, https://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/06/world/asia/saudi-arabia-afghanistan.html?mcubz=0.
Taliban insurgents have been known to practice forced conscription, taxing locals if they refuse to join. Some Afghans have reportedly been forced to pay $1,000 to the Taliban for refusing to join. According to a displaced local in Lashkar Gah, Afghanistan, in 2015, “Many people join the Taliban simply because they do not have any other option.”“AFGHANISTAN: Taliban Impose Rule, Hefty Taxes in Musa Qala District,” IRIN, accessed April 20, 2015, http://www.irinnews.org/report/72979/afghanistan-taliban-impose-rule-hefty-taxes-in-musa-qala-district;
Luke Harding, “Taliban Forcing Thousands Into Army,” Guardian (London), October 3, 2001, http://www.theguardian.com/world/2001/oct/04/afghanistan.lukeharding.
TPP insurgents reportedly offer protection to locals in exchange for high sums of money. If locals refuse the protection, the insurgents threaten to kill them. The extortion has become so commonplace in Karachi, Pakistan, that locals now call it the “terror tax.”Mariya Karimjee, “Pakistan’s ‘Terror Tax’,” GlobalPost, February 5, 2013, http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/asia-pacific/pakistan/130204/pakistan-karachi-taliban-extortion-terror-tax.
In 2010, a GlobalPost report alleged that the TTP also imposed jizya (a sharia-mandated tax on non-Muslims living in Muslim lands) on the Sikh minority in areas under their control.Shahan Mufti, “Funding the Pakistani Taliban,” GlobalPost, May 30, 2010, http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/taliban/funding-the-pakistani-taliban.
In 2005, a television camera crew captured the image of locals paying tax to Taliban insurgents in Swat, Pakistan. According to a 2010 GlobalPost report, “Wooden carts with mounds of cash were parked on the street sides as women were seen dropping their jewelry into bags for masked young men carrying AK47s.”Shahan Mufti, “Funding the Pakistani Taliban,” GlobalPost, May 30, 2010, http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/taliban/funding-the-pakistani-taliban.
The New York Times reported in January 2017 that the Taliban were now collecting revenue from electricity bills, as well as taxes on “potato harvests, flour mills, teachers’ salaries, marriage ceremonies, and fuel and vegetable trucks crossing their checkpoints.”Mujib Mashal and Najim Rahim, “Taliban, Collecting Bills for Afghan Utilities, Tap New Revenue Sources,” New York Times, January 28, 2017, https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/28/world/asia/taliban-collecting-electricity-bills-afghan.html.
Most of the early Taliban were trained in the Deobandi or Saudi-funded Wahhabi madrassas of Pakistan.Ahmed Rashid, Taliban (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2010), 43. These were especially prevalent in Pakistani refugee camps near the Afghan border. Unsurprisingly, the Taliban initially preferred to build an army of faithful students rather than an army of mercenaries. This tradition has since continued, as madrassas on both sides of the Afghan-Pakistan border are the primary recruiting grounds for the Taliban.Owais Tahid, “Pakistani teen tells of his recruitment, training as suicide bomber,” Christian Science Monitor, June 16, 2011, http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/taliban/funding-the-pakistani-taliban.
After the Taliban captured Kabul in 1996, they enforced conscription among able-bodied males. Most members of the Taliban are not paid regular salaries. Most of those in its ranks are fed and clothed, and given weapons and ammunition, but actual salaries go only to the upper echelons, the older and battle-hardened Taliban fighters.Ahmed Rashid, Taliban (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2010), 100. This threadbare practice was established to encourage a way of life that mirrored that of the prophet Muhammad. By receiving only the barest necessities, Taliban recruits would find it difficult to stray from Islam.Ahmed Rashid, Taliban (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2010), 43.
A 2014 estimate by Voice of America gauged that the Taliban included 60,000 fighters.Akmal Dawi, “Despite Massive Death Toll No Drop in Insurgency,” Voice of America, March 6, 2014, http://www.voanews.com/content/despite-massive-taliban-death-toll-no-drop-in-insurgency/1866009.html. In 2009, the U.S. government estimated that the Taliban’s size was roughly 25,000 fighters of varying allegiance.“US: Taliban Has Grown Fourfold,” Al Jazeera, October 2, 2009, http://www.aljazeera.com/news/americas/2009/10/20091091814483962.html. The quality of these recruits may have diminished over time. The Taliban have even resorted to luring children into their ranks with sweets and then training them to become suicide bombers.“Taliban recruit children with sweets, trains them into suicide bombers,” YNet News, July 21, 2013, http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4407709,00.html.
The Taliban have earned a reputation for secrecy, and some analysts believe this has inhibited the group’s recruiting potential. With such an opaque governing structure, in addition to the brutality of their administration, the Taliban failed to engender popular confidence and support.Ahmed Rashid, Taliban (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2010), 94.
To create a new generation of fighters, the Taliban have employed the practice of forced marriages, taking Afghan girls as young as 13 as brides. Though child and forced marriages are illegal in Afghanistan, many poor families reportedly volunteer in order to gain dowries. According to Reuters, half of all Afghan girls are married by age 15. In August 2017, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid estimated that several hundred women married to Taliban fighters become widows each year. Many of these women are forced to become sex slaves at the hands of other Taliban commanders. Their former in-laws will keep them hostage while grooming their male children to become Taliban fighters.Bahaar Joya, “Invisible Taliban child brides, widows trapped as sex slaves,” Reuters, August 23, 2017, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-afghanistan-rights-women/invisible-taliban-child-brides-widows-trapped-as-sex-slaves-idUSKCN1B31PL. Women who unsuccessfully try to escape after a forced marriage often are met with capital punishment. In a 2015 case, for example, the Taliban stoned a 19-year-old Afghan woman to death after she tried to escape her marriage. The Taliban then released a video of the execution to serve as a warning.Danielle Moylan, “Afghan woman was stoned to death after ‘attempting to flee a forced marriage,’” Telegraph (London), November 3, 2015, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/afghanistan/11972749/Afghan-woman-was-stoned-to-death-after-attempting-to-flee-a-forced-marriage.html.
The Taliban have also utilized propaganda to spread their message and attract recruits. In addition to print magazines, pamphlets, and other printed materials, the Taliban have utilized online and digital media––reportedly in an attempt to compete with ISIS’s extensive online presence. The Taliban maintain a channel on the messaging service Telegram, a Twitter account, and a website. The group developed its own Android app in 2016, although it was removed from the Google Play store shortly after its launch.Abdulhadi Hairan, “A Profile of the Taliban’s Propaganda Tactics,” HuffPost, accessed October 17, 2017, https://www.huffingtonpost.com/abdulhadi-hairan/a-profile-of-the-talibans_b_442857.html;
Sune Engel Rasmussen, “Afghan Taliban create smartphone app to spread their message,” Guardian (London), April 3, 2016, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/apr/03/afghan-taliban-create-smartphone-app-spread-message.
By 2004, U.S. and NATO intelligence officers had concluded that Pakistan’s ISI was running a full training program for the Afghan Taliban out of the Baluchistan province in Pakistan, which gave it access to funds and arms from the wider Arab world.Ahmed Rashid, Taliban (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2010), 227. The Taliban have maintained a network of training camps within Afghanistan, which are often depicted in propaganda videos. Since the end of 2014, the Taliban have advertised at least 16 training camps. In 2015, The Taliban announced that its Khalid bin Walid Camp operates 12 training facilities in eight of Afghanistan’s provinces, employing about 300 trainers and scholars.Bill Roggio, “Taliban fighters promise to ‘play with the skulls’ of dead American soldiers,” Long War Journal, September 28, 2017, https://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2017/09/taliban-fighters-promise-to-play-with-the-skulls-of-dead-american-soldiers.php. A June 2017 propaganda video identified four new Taliban camps in the country.Bill Roggio and Caleb Weiss, “Taliban promotes 4 previously unidentified training camps in Afghanistan,” Long War Journal, June 26, 2017, http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2017/06/taliban-promotes-4-previously-unidentified-training-camps-in-afghanistan.php.
- 1994: By 1994, the mujahideen have “carved [Kandahar, Afghanistan] and neighboring districts into criminal fiefs.” The Taliban emerge as a united force in Kandahar, Afghanistan, with Mullah Mohammed Omar as their leader. The group soon absorbs over 15,000 students and clerics from western Pakistan and begins implementing sharia. By the end of 1994, the Taliban have complete control over Kandahar and Helmand province, the center of opium cultivation. During this time, Pakistan’s intelligence bureau, the Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI), secretly funnel money to the Taliban.Steve Coll, “Looking for Mullah Omar,” New Yorker, January 23, 2012, http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2012/01/23/looking-for-mullah-omar;
Lawrence Wright, The Looming Tower (New York: Vintage Books, 2006), 259; “The Taliban,” Council on Foreign Relations, accessed April 13, 2015, http://www.cfr.org/terrorist-organizations-and-networks/taliban/p35985?cid=marketing_use-taliban_infoguide-012115#!/.
- September 1996: Taliban fighters capture Kabul, driving out Ahmed Shah Massoud’s mujahideen forces and communist President Mohammad Najibullah. The Taliban murder Najibullah and his brother, hanging their bodies from traffic poles in Kabul. Saudi Arabia and Pakistan quickly recognize the Taliban-led government. The Taliban implement a hardline version of sharia based on Hanafi Islamic jurisprudence, implementing Islamic punishments such as public executions, amputations, and stonings. Men are required to grow beards and women must be completely covered by the burka. The Taliban ban all television, movies, and music, disallowing girls and women from attending school or working. One Taliban decree declares, “Women you should not step outside your residence. If women are going outside with fashionable, ornamental, tight and charming clothes to show themselves, they will be cursed by the Islamic Sharia and should never expect to go to heaven.” The Taliban also ban kite flying, dog racing, pork, satellite dishes, cinematography, televisions, alcohol, computers, statues, pictures, and “anything made from human hair,” among other seemingly random items.“Who are the Taliban?” BBC News, November 1, 2013, http://www.bbc.com/news/world-south-asia-11451718;
“The Taliban,” Council on Foreign Relations, accessed April 13, 2015, http://www.cfr.org/terrorist-organizations-and-networks/taliban/p35985?cid=marketing_use-taliban_infoguide-012115#!/;
Lawrence Wright, The Looming Tower (New York: Vintage Books, 2006), 261.
- August 1998: Taliban forces capture the city of Mazar in northwest Afghanistan, slaughtering 5,000 to 6,000 people. Human Rights Watch notes that during the seizure of the city, Taliban troops shoot at “anything that [moves],” specially targeting members of the Persian-speaking Shiite Hazara ethnic community. Among the dead are 10 Iranian diplomats and a journalist.“The Massacre in Mazar-I Sharif,” Human Rights Watch, November 1998, http://www.hrw.org/legacy/reports98/afghan/Afrepor0.htm; Lawrence Wright, The Looming Tower (New York: Vintage Books, 2006), 304.
- March 2001: Taliban fighters decimate two massive statues of Buddha in Bamiyan, Afghanistan, with anti-aircraft weapons and tanks, prompting an international outcry from the U.S., the EU, Russia, India, and Pakistan.Luke Harding, “Taliban blow apart 2,000 years of Buddhist history,” Guardian (London), March 3, 2001, http://www.theguardian.com/world/2001/mar/03/afghanistan.lukeharding;
Lawrence Wright, The Looming Tower (New York: Vintage Books, 2006), 381.
- September 11, 2001: Nineteen al-Qaeda operatives hijack U.S. commercial airliners and fly them into the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. A fourth hijacked airplane, whose target may have been the U.S. Capitol building, was brought down by passengers in rural Pennsylvania. Almost 3,000 civilians are killed and thousands injured in the worst ever attack on U.S. soil. The Taliban had knowingly harbored al-Qaeda operatives since 1996, enabling the terror group to plan the attack.“Timeline: Al-Qaeda,” BBC News, last modified August 7, 2008, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/7546355.stm;
“The Taliban,” Council on Foreign Relations, accessed April 13, 2015, http://www.cfr.org/terrorist-organizations-and-networks/taliban/p35985?cid=marketing_use-taliban_infoguide-012115#!/.
- April 2006: A neo-Taliban insurgency appears in Afghanistan with an uptick in suicide bombings and the use of improvised explosive devices (IEDs).“The Taliban,” Council on Foreign Relations, accessed April 13, 2015, http://www.cfr.org/terrorist-organizations-and-networks/taliban/p35985?cid=marketing_use-taliban_infoguide-012115#!/.
- May-June 2006: Amidst a period of Taliban violence, Afghan, Canadian, and British troops launch Operation Mountain Thrust. The operation seeks to degrade Taliban activity in southern and eastern Afghanistan.“Revived Taliban Waging ‘Full-Blown Insurgency,’” USA Today, last modified June 20, 2006, http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/world/2006-06-19-taliban-afghanistan-cover_x.htm.
- February 27, 2007: A Taliban suicide bomber blows up a checkpoint at Bagram Air Base while U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney is visiting, killing 20 and injuring 20 more. Cheney, who is unhurt, is the target of the attack.“Cheney Unhurt in Blast outside Afghan Base,” CNN, February 27, 2007, http://web.archive.org/web/20070301092232/http://www.cnn.com/2007/WORLD/asiapcf/02/27/cheney.afghanistan.ap/index.html.
- July 19, 2007: Taliban insurgents kidnap 23 South Korean missionaries in Ghazni Province, Afghanistan. The Taliban kills two Korean hostages before the Taliban and the South Korean government reach a deal. The Taliban releases the remaining hostages in August. As part of the deal, the South Korean government promises to withdraw its 200 troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2007 and to disallow evangelical missionaries to travel to Afghanistan.Choe Sang-Hun, “Freed by Taliban, 19 South Korean Hostages Will Face Relief and Anger Back Home,” New York Times, September 2, 2007, http://www.nytimes.com/2007/09/02/world/asia/02hostage.html?_r=0; David Rohde, “Taliban Free Remaining Koreans,” New York Times, August 30, 2007, http://www.nytimes.com/2007/08/30/world/asia/30cnd-afghan.html.
- December 27, 2007: The Pakistani Islamist group Tehreek-e-Nafaz-e-Shariate-Mohammadi dispatches a suicide bomber to blow up an army convoy in Swat, Pakistan, killing five Pakistani soldiers and six civilians. The group claims responsibility for the attack “on behalf of the TTP.”Hassan Abbas, “A Profile of Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan,” CTC Sentinel 1, no. 2 (January 2008), https://www.ctc.usma.edu/posts/a-profile-of-tehrik-i-taliban-pakistan.
- February 2008: A Taliban suicide bomber kills over 80 and injures 50 when he detonates explosives at a dogfight near Kandahar. The attack is the deadliest in Afghanistan since 2001.Pamela Constable, “Suicide Bomber in Afghanistan Kills More Than 80 at Dogfighting Event,” Washington Post, February 18, 2008, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/02/17/AR2008021700233.html.
- July 7, 2008: A suicide bomber attacks the Indian embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, killing 41 and injuring over 140. U.S. intelligence agencies conclude that the ISI helped plan the attack, a claim that Pakistan strongly denies.Bill Roggio, “41 killed in Kabul suicide strike at Indian embassy,” Long War Journal, July 7, 2008, http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2008/07/41_killed_in_kabul_s.php;
Mark Mazzetti and Eric Schmitt, “Pakistanis Aided Attack in Kabul, U.S. Officials Say,” New York Times, August 1, 2008, http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/01/world/asia/01pstan.html;
Mark Tran, “Pakistan denies claims of involvement in Kabul Indian embassy blast,” Guardian (London), August 1, 2008, http://www.theguardian.com/world/2008/aug/01/pakistan.usa.
- August 17-18, 2008: At least 10 Taliban suicide bombers attack the U.S. military base Camp Salerno in Bamiyan, Afghanistan. In a twin attack, approximately 100 Taliban insurgents attack and kill 10 elite French paratroopers in a district near Kabul. The New York Times reports that NATO and American military officers blame the increased Taliban insurgence on “the greater freedom of movement the militants have in Pakistan’s tribal areas on the Afghan border.”Carlotta Gall and Sangar Rahimi, “Taliban Escalate Fighting With Assault on U.S. Base,” New York Times, August 19, 2008, http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/20/world/asia/20afghan.html?pagewanted=all.
- August 21, 2008: Simultaneous TTP suicide bombs explode at Pakistan’s main munitions factory northwest of Islamabad, killing at least 63 people. The TTP claims responsibility, stating that the bombings are in retaliation to army violence in the tribal area of Bajaur.“Pakistan bombers hit arms factory,” BBC News, August 21, 2008, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/7574267.stm.
- March 31, 2009: In an interview with BBC News, TTP leader Baitullah Mehsud says his group was responsible for an attack on Lahore’s police academy the day prior. Mehsud says that the attack was “in retaliation for the continued drone strikes by the US in collaboration with Pakistan on our people.” The attack killed 10 and injured 95.“Lahore ‘was Pakistan Taleban op,’” BBC News, March 31, 2009, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/7973540.stm.
- April 4, 2009: TTP leader Baitullah Mehsud claims responsibility for an attack on an immigration center in Binghamton, New York, in which 13 people are killed. Mehsud tells Reuters reporters, “I accept responsibility. They were my men. I gave them orders in reaction to U.S. drone attacks.”“Pakistani Taliban chief Mehsud claims U.S. shooting,” Reuters, April 4, 2009, http://in.reuters.com/article/2009/04/04/idINIndia-38880020090404.
- June 20, 2009: New York Times reporter David Rohde escapes from captivity after being held by the Taliban for over seven months, since his capture on November 10, 2008. Rohde’s family asserts that there was no ransom paid, or Taliban prisoners released, in exchange for Rohde’s release.“Times Reporter Escapes Taliban After 7 Months,” New York Times, June 20, 2009, http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/21/world/asia/21taliban.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0.
- June 30, 2009: The Taliban takes U.S. soldier Private Bowe Bergdahl hostage. Days after his capture, a senior U.S. military official said that Bergdahl was captured by low-level insurgents and then “sold” to members of the Taliban-aligned Haqqani network. On July 18, 2009, the Taliban release a 28-minute video on the Internet in which Bergdahl says he is scared and wishes to return home. Taliban allege that Bergdahl was drunk and off base at the time of his capture, but U.S. officials refute that claim, stating, “The Taliban are known for lying and what they are claiming (is) not true.”“U.S. soldier captured by Taliban: ‘I’m afraid’,” CNN, July 19, 2009, http://www.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/asiapcf/07/19/afghanistan.soldier.hostage/; Declan Walsh, “Taliban release vide of captured US soldier,” Guardian (London), July 19, 2009, http://www.theguardian.com/world/2009/jul/19/afghanistan-captured-american-soldier-video.
- May 2010: The TTP claim responsibility for a failed car bombing in New York City’s Times Square. TTP’s top bomb maker, Qari Hussain Mehsud, says that the attack “is a revenge for the great [and] valuable martyred leaders of mujahideen,” as well as a “revenge for the Global American interference [and] terrorism in Muslim countries.” Mehsud warns that NATO must condemn the United States and apologize for “the massacres in Iraq, Yemen, Afghanistan, and Pakistani tribal areas otherwise be prepared for the worst destruction and devastation in their regions.”Bill Roggio, “Pakistani Taliban claim credit for failed NYC Times Square car bombing,” Long War Journal, May 2, 2010, http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2010/05/pakistani_taliban_cl.php.
- August 5, 2010: Taliban gunmen murder ten aid workers in Badakhshan, Afghanistan. The workers include six Americans, four Afghans, one Briton and, and one German. The Taliban claim that the aid workers were “spies and Christian missionaries.”Rod Nordland, “Gunmen Kill Medical Aid Workers in Afghanistan,” New York Times, August 7, 2010, http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/08/world/asia/08afghan.html.
- February 10, 2011: A young suicide bomber attacks an army compound in Pakistan, killing at least 31. The TTP claim responsibility.“Pakistan Attack: ‘Schoolboy’ Suicide Bomber Hits Mardan,” BBC News, February 10, 2011, http://www.bbc.com/news/world-south-asia-12413469.
- April 3, 2011: Suicide bombers attack a Pakistani shrine of a 13th century Sufi saint, killing at least 41. The TTP claim responsibility.“41 killed in Pakistan shrine suicide attack,” Telegraph (London), April 3, 2011, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/pakistan/8424930/41-killed-in-Pakistan-shrine-suicide-attack.html.
- September 2011: Taliban suicide bombers attack the home of former Afghan president Burhanuddin Rabbani, killing him and four other members of Afghanistan’s High Peace Council. According to Michael Semple, a Taliban expert, Rabbani’s death constitutes “one of the biggest blows the peace process in Afghanistan has faced.” After Rabbani was ousted by the Taliban in 1996, Rabbani became head of the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance, composed predominantly of Tajiks and Uzbeks. As an ethnic Tajik, Rabbani had been selected to lead the High Peace Council, a committee established to hold peace talks with the Taliban. In New York, Afghan President Hamid Karzai says, “This will not deter us from continuing down the path we have started.”“Former Afghanistan president Burhanuddin Rabbani killed in Kabul blast,” Daily Telegraph (London), September 20, 2011, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/afghanistan/8776911/Former-Afghanistan-president-Burhanuddin-Rabbani-killed-in-Kabul-blast.html; Laura King, “Former Afghan President Burhanuddin Rabbani assassinated,” Los Angeles Times, September 20, 2011, http://articles.latimes.com/2011/sep/20/world/la-fg-afghanistan-rabbani-20110921.
- September 10, 2011: A Taliban suicide bomber detonates an IED at the entrance of Combat Outpost Sayed Abab, an ISAF base in Wardak province, Afghanistan. The bomber kills four Afghans and wounds 77 U.S. soldiers in the attack.Bill Roggio, “Taliban suicide bomber hits combat outpost in Wardak,” Long War Journal, September 10, 2011, http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2011/09/taliban_suicide_bomber_hits_co.php.
- September 13, 2011: Taliban gunmen strike the U.S. embassy and NATO’s ISAF headquarters in Kabul, killing three police and one civilian. Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid tells CNN that the Taliban are targeting “the U.S. Embassy, governmental organizations and other foreign organizations.”Alissa J. Rubin, Ray Rivera and Jack Healy, “U.S. Embassy and NATO Headquarters Attacked in Kabul,” New York Times, September 13, 2011, http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/14/world/asia/14afghanistan.html; Tim Schwarz and Joe Sterling, “In central Kabul, tension ripples amid Taliban assault,” CNN, September 14, 2011, http://www.cnn.com/2011/WORLD/asiapcf/09/13/afghanistan.kabul.attack/. The next day, U.S. and Afghan officials say the Haqqani network is most likely behind the attack. According to the New York Times, “Hallmarks of attacks linked to the Haqqani network include multiple fighters, targets that are often symbols of the Afghan government and their Western backers, careful planning, and, often, instructions delivered by telephone as the attackers carry out their mission.”Jack Healy and Alissa J. Rubin, “U.S. Blames Pakistan-Based Group for Attack on Embassy in Kabul,” New York Times, September 14, 2011, http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/15/world/asia/us-blames-kabul-assault-on-pakistan-based-group.html. Later in September, senior U.S. military officer Mike Mullen tells a Senate panel that the Haqqani network carried out the attack on the U.S. embassy, saying, “With ISI support, Haqqani operatives planned and conducted… the assault on our embassy.” He continues, “The Haqqani network… acts as a veritable arms of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence Agency.”“Pakistan ‘Backed Haqqani Attack on Kabul’ - Mike Mullen,” BBC News, September 22, 2011, http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-15024344.
- September 14, 2011: The TTP ambush a school bus in Peshawar, Pakistan, killing four boys and the driver, and wounding two seven-year-old girls.Lehaz Ali, “Bus attack kills four boys in Pakistan,” Sydney Morning Herald, September 14, 2011, http://www.smh.com.au//breaking-news-world/bus-attack-kills-four-boys-in-pakistan-20110914-1k84a.html.
- February 2012: After U.S. soldiers burn Qurans on February 22 at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan, violent protests erupt across the country. U.S. Military officials say that the Qurans contained extremist inscriptions that Taliban inmates used to communicate with one another and fuel extremism. During the riots, angry mobs scream “Die, die, foreigners,” among other anti-Western chants.“Official: Burned Qurans held extremist messages,” CBS News, February 21, 2012, http://www.cbsnews.com/news/official-burned-qurans-held-extremist-messages/.
- April 2012: The Taliban launch a “spring offensive” in Afghanistan in which they attack the diplomatic quarter in Kabul. Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid tells Reuters, “These attacks are the beginning of the spring offensive and we [have] planned them for months.” He says that the primary targets are the German and British embassies and NATO headquarters. U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Ryan Crocker says that the Haqqani network most likely helped the Taliban to carry out the attacks.Hamid Shalizi and Jack Kimball, “Taliban attack Afghanistan in ‘spring offensive,’” Reuters, April 15, 2012, http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/04/15/us-afghanistan-attack-idUSBRE83E05620120415.
- August 16, 2012: TTP militants stop three buses in a remote mountain pass in northern Pakistan, and pull 22 Shiites off board, executing them all.Salman Masoon, “Pakistani Taliban Kill 22 Shiites in Bus Attack,” New York Times, August 16, 2012, http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/17/world/asia/pakistani-taliban-kill-22-shiites-in-bus-attack.html?smid=pl-share.
- October 9, 2012: TTP insurgents shoot 14-year-old Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai in Mingora, Pakistan, as ‘punishment’ for promoting women’s education. Taliban spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan confirms that Yousafzai was the target, calling her activism for women’s education an “obscenity.”Declan Walsh, “Taliban Gun Down Girl Who Spoke Up For Rights,” New York Times, October 9, 2012, http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/10/world/asia/teen-school-activist-malala-yousafzai-survives-hit-by-pakistani-taliban.html. Ehsan says, “[W]hom so ever leads a campaign against Islam and Shariah is ordered to be killed by Shariah.”Taliban use Islamic Shariah to defend Malala attack," Dawn (Karachi), October 10, 2012, http://www.dawn.com/news/755657/taliban-use-islamic-shariah-to-defend-malala-attack.
- September 15, 2013: Pakistani General Sanaullah Khan Niazi dies in a roadside bomb in northwest Pakistan. The TTP claim responsibility.Salman Masood, “Senior Pakistani General Is Killed in Insurgent Attack,” New York Times, September 15, 2013, http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/16/world/asia/insurgent-attack-kills-senior-pakistani-general.html.
- January 2014: Taliban suicide bombers blow up a restaurant that is regularly visited by Westerners in Kabul’s diplomatic quarter, killing 21. Among the dead are four U.N. personnel.Azam Ahmed and Matthew Rosenberg, “Deadly Attack at Kabul Restaurant Hints at Changing Climate for Foreigners,” New York Times, January 18, 2014, http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/19/world/asia/afghanistan-restaurant-attack.html; Matthew Rosenberg, “Taliban Attack Kills 16 at Restaurant Favored by Westerners,” New York Times, January 17, 2014, http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/18/world/asia/Kabul-Cafe-Bombing.html.
- June 8, 2014: TTP militants attack the Jinnah International Airport in Karachi, Pakistan, killing 26 people. The TTP later claim responsibility for the attack alongside the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), an Uzbekistan-based al-Qaeda-linked militant organization that works closely with the Taliban.“Karachi Airport: Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan claims attack,” BBC News, June 11, 2014, http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-27790892.
- December 2014: NPR lists 2014 as Afghanistan’s bloodiest year since 2001.Christopher Woolf, “2014 Was the Bloodiest Year of the War in Afghanistan — for Afghans,” Public Radio International, February 3, 2015, http://www.pri.org/stories/2015-02-03/2014-was-bloodiest-year-war-afghanistan-afghans.
- December 16, 2014: Nine TTP gunmen attack an army-run school in Peshawar, Pakistan, killing 145, 132 of them schoolchildren. The gunmen run through the hallways of the school, throwing grenades, firing at random, and exploding suicide vests. The gunmen line up some of the children and slaughter them. The attack prompts an international outcry. It is the deadliest attack in TTP’s history.Declan Walsh, “Taliban Besiege Pakistan School, Leaving 145 Dead,” New York Times, December 16, 2014, http://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/17/world/asia/taliban-attack-pakistani-school.html.
- February 13, 2015: Taliban militants attack worshippers at a Shiite mosque in Peshawar, killing at least 20.“Pakistani Taliban Attack Shia Mosque in Peshawar,” BBC News, February 13, 2015, http://www.bbc.com/news/world-south-asia-31451201.
- May 14, 2015: The Taliban attack a popular hotel in Kabul, killing 14, including an American.Joseph Goldstein, “Taliban Attack Kills 14, Including American, at Kabul Hotel,” New York Times, May 14, 2015, http://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/15/world/asia/taliban-gunman-kills-14-including-american-at-kabul-hotel.html.
- September 4, 2015: More than 300 girls are admitted to hospitals after exposure to gas attacks in their schools in Herat, Afghanistan. The Taliban are suspected.Vasudevan Sridharan, “Afghanistan: 300 Schoolgirls Hit by Suspected Taliban Poison Gas Attacks in Herat,” International Business Times, September 4, 2015, http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/afghanistan-300-schoolgirls-hit-by-suspected-taliban-poison-gas-attacks-herat-1518418.
- September 28, 2015: The Taliban take control of the northern Afghan city of Kunduz. It is the first major city (population: 300,000) to fall into Taliban hands since the group was forcibly deposed from Kabul in 2001.“Taliban Tighten Grip on Afghan City of Kunduz,” BBC News, September 30, 2015, http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-34398371.
- October 11-14, 2015: The Taliban storm two check points in the southern Helmand province, killing 29 Afghan border police officers.Morgan Chalfant, “Taliban Insurgents Execute 29 Afghan Border Officers,” Washington Free Beacon, October 14, 2015, http://freebeacon.com/national-security/taliban-insurgents-execute-29-afghan-border-officers.
- November 9, 2015: Rival Taliban factions battle in southern Afghanistan, leaving dozens dead.“Rival Taliban Factions Clash in Southern Afghanistan, Dozens Dead,” Voice of America, November 9, 2015, http://www.voanews.com/content/rival-taliban-factions-clash-in-southern-afghanistan-dozens-deads/3049965.html.
- December 8, 2015: The Taliban assault Kandahar International Airport, leaving more than 50 dead, including children.Ayaz Gul, “At Least 50 Dead in Taliban Attack on Key Afghanistan Airport,” Voice of America, December 10, 2015, http://www.voanews.com/content/taliban-attack-key-afghanistan-airport/3096798.html.
- January 20, 2016: Taliban agents storm Bacha Khan University in northwestern Pakistan outside Peshawar, killing at least 22 people. In Kabul, a motorcycle-bound suicide bomber targets Tolo News, an Afghan news channel. The attack kills seven employees.Sophia Saifi, Ben Brumfield, and Euan McKirdy, “At Least 22 Killed in Attack on Bacha Khan University in Pakistan,” CNN, January 21, 2016, http://www.cnn.com/2016/01/20/asia/pakistan-university-militant-attack/index.html;
“Seven Employees of Afghan News Channel Killed in Kabul Suicide Attack,” Vice News, January 20, 2016, https://news.vice.com/article/bomb-explodes-near-russian-embassy-in-kabul?utm_source=vicenewstwitter;
Reuters, “Taliban Warns TV Station Staff not to Promote Immorality after Attack,” Yahoo News, January 21, 2016, http://news.yahoo.com/taliban-warns-tv-station-staff-not-promote-immorality-134055132.html.
- March 7, 2016: A bomber associated with the Pakistani Taliban attacks the entrance to a judicial court in northwestern Pakistan, killing 11.Riaz Khan, “Taliban Suicide Bomber Kills 11 outside Pakistani Court,” Yahoo News, March 7, 2016, https://www.yahoo.com/news/police-suicide-blast-kills-7-outside-pakistani-court-074934872.html.
- March 28, 2016: The Afghan Taliban claims responsibility for firing three rockets at the country’s parliament in Kabul.Fazul Rahim, “Taliban Fires Three Rockets at Afghan Parliament,” NBC News, March 28, 2016, http://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/taliban-fires-three-rockets-afgan-parliament-n546421;
“Taliban Bombing Kills at Least 20 Police in Kabul,” New York Times, February 1, 2016, http://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/02/world/asia/afghanistan-kabul-suicide-bombing-taliban.html.
- May 14, 2016: Taliban insurgents ambush Afghan police forces and cut off the main highway that links Kabul with northern Afghanistan.Rod Nordland, “Taliban Cut Off Afghan Highway Linking Kabul to Northern Gateways,” New York Times, May 14, 2016, http://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/15/world/asia/taliban-cut-off-afghan-highway-linking-kabul-to-northern-gateways.html.
- May 31, 2016:Taliban gunmen kill 10 passengers and kidnap 18 more. The victims were traveling on buses headed toward the Afghan city of Kunduz.Ehsanullah Amiri and Jessica Donati, “Taliban Gunmen Kill 10 Bus Passengers, Kidnap Dozens,” Wall Street Journal, May 31, 2016, http://www.wsj.com/articles/taliban-attacks-buses-in-northern-afghanistan-1464701057.
- July 21, 2016: After clashing with Afghan government forces, Taliban insurgents overrun the remote northern district of Qala-e-Zal in Kunduz province.Ayaz Gul, “Taliban Insurgents Overrun Northern Afghan District,” Voice of America, July 21, 2016, http://www.voanews.com/content/taliban-insurgents-overurn-northern-afghan-district/3428843.html.
- August 1, 2016: A truck bomb explodes outside a hotel compound used by foreign contractors in Kabul. The Afghan Taliban claim responsibility.Sayed Hassib, “Taliban Claim Kabul Bomb Attack on Compound Used by Foreigners,”
Reuters, August 1, 2016, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-afghanistan-blast-idUSKCN10B0WA.
- August 4, 2016: Taliban gunmen attack a convoy of foreign travelers as they travel through Herat province, wounding seven people.“British Tourists Attacked In Afghanistan,” Sky News, August 4, 2016, http://news.sky.com/story/british-tourists-attacked-in-afghanistan-10522398.
- August 8, 2016: A suicide bomber targets a mourning ceremony in Quetta, killing at least 70 people and wounding at least 120 others. A breakaway faction of the Pakistani Taliban claims responsibility for the attack.Aamir Iqbal, “Suicide Blast Claimed by Taliban Faction in Pakistan Claims At Least 64 lives,” Washington Post, August 8, 2016, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/suicide-bomber-targets-pakistans-lawyers-kills-at-least-53/2016/08/08/cce19344-5d4d-11e6-8e45-477372e89d78_story.html; “Quetta Hospital Bombing: Pakistan Taliban Claim Attack,” BBC News, August 8, 2016, http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-37015640.
- August 24. 2016: Taliban terrorists attack American University in Kabul, killing 13 people and wounding 45 others.“At Least 13 Dead, 45 Wounded as Afghanistan University Attack Ends,” Voice of America, August 25, 2016, http://www.voanews.com/a/gunfire-american-university-kabul/3478956.html.
- September 5, 2016: Taliban suicide bombers strike near the Defense Ministry in Kabul, killing 24 people, including a number of senior security officials, and wounding 91 others.Mirwais Harooni, “Attacks in Afghan Capital Kill At Least 24,” Reuters, September 5, 2016, https://www.yahoo.com/news/blast-afghan-capital-kabul-casualties-feared-army-official-113117524.html.
- November 12, 2016: A Taliban suicide bomber kills four U.S. soldiers and wounds 17 at Bagram Airfield.“Taliban Bomber Kills 4 Americans at Key NATO base,” Al Jazeera, November 12, 2016, http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2016/11/taliban-bomber-kills-4-americans-key-nato-base-161112165232950.html.
- December 22, 2016: Three Taliban militants storm the house of prominent Afghan legislator Mir Wali Khan, killing eight, including two of Khan’s young grandchildren. Khan and his wife are wounded in the attack. Afghan police kill the Taliban fighters after a night-long struggle.Ehsanullah Amiri and Jessica Donati, “Taliban Attack on Afghan Lawmaker’s Home Kills Eight,” Wall Street Journal, last modified December 22, 2016, https://www.wsj.com/articles/taliban-militants-killed-in-attack-on-home-of-afghan-lawmaker-1482393218.
- January 10, 2017: Two Taliban suicide bombings in Kabul kill more than 30 and wound about 70 in an attack near the new Afghan parliament building. Most of the victims are reportedly parliamentary staff.Hamid Shalizi, “Taliban Attack Near Afghan Parliament Kills More Than 30,” Reuters, January 10, 2017, http://in.reuters.com/article/afghanistan-blast-idINKBN14U1DH.
- February 13, 2017: A suicide bomber from a Taliban splinter faction kills at least 13 and wounds almost 60 at a protest rally in Lahore, Pakistan.Zaheer Babar, “Taliban suicide bomber strikes Pakistan rally, killing 13,” Associated Press, February 13, 2017, http://bigstory.ap.org/article/8ee54c9fbd974f76afa76e8703892177/large-bomb-explodes-protest-rally-pakistans-lahore.
- February 28, 2017: Taliban fighters attack a checkpoint in Helmand province with silenced weapons and hand grenades, killing 12 police officers. The attackers also steal arms and ammunition.“Taliban Kill 12 Afghan Police with Silenced Weapons,” Reuters, February 28, 2017, http://news.trust.org/item/20170228094938-mxso7/.
- March 5, 2017: Taliban fighters kill at least five members of the Afghan security forces at a checkpoint in Kunduz province.“Afghan Official: 5 Local Policemen Killed in Taliban Attack,” Associated Press, March 5, 2017, http://bigstory.ap.org/article/570853b63937403a9c731b907c9f1a41/afghan-official-district-police-chief-killed-bomb.
- March 14, 2017: The Taliban cut off the hand and foot of an alleged thief in Afghanistan’s western Herat province.“Taliban Cut Off Hand, Foot of Suspected Thief in Afghanistan,” Associated Press, March 14, 2017, https://apnews.com/5b7640dda91640ac99101a4e7d28e234/Taliban-cut-off-hand,-foot-of-suspected-thief-in-Afghanistan.
- March 23, 2017: The Taliban capture the key Sangin district, a major opium market in Afghanistan’s southern Helmand province.Amir Shah and Kathy Gannon, “Taliban Take Key Afghan District in South; 9 Killed in North,” Associated Press, March 23, 2017, https://apnews.com/70e38c026bed491b8d426b01ca93b1d0/Taliban-take-key-Afghan-district-in-south;-9-killed-in-north.
- March 23, 2017: An Afghan police officer who had defected to the Taliban kills nine of his fellow officers in northern Kunduz province before escaping.Amir Shah and Kathy Gannon, “Taliban Take Key Afghan District in South; 9 Killed in North,” Associated Press, March 23, 2017, https://apnews.com/70e38c026bed491b8d426b01ca93b1d0/Taliban-take-key-Afghan-district-in-south;-9-killed-in-north.
- April 3, 2017: A Taliban attack on provincial intelligence service agents kills at least four.“4 Afghan Intelligence Agents Killed in Taliban Attack,” Associated Press, April 3, 2017, https://apnews.com/648e5ce0717045a49d82c054444cf571/4-Afghan-intelligence-agents-killed-in-Taliban-attack.
- April 5, 2017: A Taliban suicide bombing targeting a vehicle of census workers kills six in eastern Pakistan.Zaheer Babar and Munir Ahmed, “Taliban Attack Kills 6 in Pakistan, Including Census Workers,” Associated Press, April 5, 2017, https://apnews.com/28fc6b6a708c4d20a7307a67451bae2b/Taliban-attack-kills-6-in-Pakistan,-including-census-workers.
- April 17, 2017: Taliban militants in the Mohammad Agha district of Afghanistan’s Logar province stone to death a man and woman accused of adultery. In Sari Pul province, other Taliban militants kill four suspected spies—a young boy and three women.“Afghan Officials: Taliban Kill Alleged Adulterers and Spies,” Associated Press, April 17, 2017, https://apnews.com/0eecdb7b1d8945468fe30bb4b0f7585b/Afghan-officials:-Taliban-kill-alleged-adulterers-and-spies.
- April 21, 2017: Taliban militants disguised as Afghan army personnel attack an army base in Mazar-i-Sharif, Balkh province, killing more than 100 soldiers and other personnel. Multiple suicide bombers and gunmen perpetrate the attack. Afghanistan’s defense minister and army chief of staff resigne afterward.Sune Engel Rasmussen and Spencer Ackerman, “Taliban Kill More than 140 Afghan Soldiers at Army Base,” Guardian (London), April 22, 2017, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/apr/21/50-afghan-soldiers-killed-taliban-suicide-attackers-army-base; Ehsanullah Amiri and Jessica Donati, “Taliban Fighters Infiltrate Afghan Army Base, Kill More than 100,” Wall Street Journal, April 22, 2017, https://www.wsj.com/articles/taliban-fighters-infiltrate-afghan-army-post-killing-at-least-eight-people-1492794202.
- April 25, 2017: A roadside bombing by the breakaway Taliban faction Jamaat-ul-Ahrar in Pakistan kills 14 people, including five women and four children. The bombing targets a minivan in a Shiite part of the Kurram tribal region bordering Afghanistan.Riaz Khan, “Pakistan Raises Death Toll to 14 in Taliban Roadside Bombing,” Associated Press, April 25, 2017, https://apnews.com/4f51e7e0076e4cdba0352c054ff5c0d0/Pakistan-raises-death-toll-to-14-in-Taliban-roadside-bombing.
- April 25, 2017: The Taliban kill eight policemen in Afghanistan’s northern Takhar province after overrunning three checkpoints. The same day, the group claims a suicide bombing in the eastern Khost province that kills four Afghan security guards protecting the U.S. military’s Camp Chapman base.Amir Shah, “Afghan Official: Taliban Kill 8 Police in Northern Province,” Associated Press, April 25, 2017, https://apnews.com/924113d5a73c4e3a8755f2e42637a359/Afghan-official:-Taliban-kill-8-police-in-northern-province.
- April 26, 2017: Taliban fighters clash with their ISIS rivals in Afghanistan’s northern Jawzjan province, leading to 76 Taliban militants dead and 15 dead from ISIS.“IS Group, Taliban Clash in Afghanistan, Dozens Killed,” Associated Press, April 26, 2017, https://apnews.com/31ab7fe9ac4549fe8e330e8448390f91/IS-group,-Taliban-clash-in-Afghanistan,-dozens-killed.
- April 28, 2017: The Taliban announce the beginning of their spring offensive as they capture a district in Afghanistan’s Badakhshan province.Kathy Gannon, “Taliban Announce Spring Offensive, Vow to Build Institutions,” Associated Press, April 28, 2017, https://apnews.com/ba5acd568eb84de6b853403abcee9b53/Taliban-announce-spring-offensive,-vow-to-build-institutions.
- May 20, 2017: Taliban fighters attack a bank in Paktia province, killing three people. Security forces kill three of the attackers. Simultaneously, a Taliban fighter drives an explosives-filled Humvee into the gates of the provincial governor’s compound in the city of Ghazni. Two Afghan security personnel and 25 Taliban fighters die in an ensuing firefight, though the Taliban claim they caused more casualties. Also that day, a German aid worker and an Afghan guard are killed in an attack on a house in Kabul, while a Finnish national is kidnapped. The three work for Swedish aid group Operation Mercy. There are no immediate claims of responsibility for the attack on the aid workers, but police suspect the Taliban.Samiullah Paiwand, “Three killed, dozens wounded as gunmen storm bank in Afghanistan,” Reuters, May 20, 2017, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-afghanistan-attack-idUSKCN18G0ID; “At least 20 Afghan police killed in Taliban ambushes: official,” Reuters, May 21, 2017, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-afghanistan-taliban-idUSKBN18H085; “Afghan Taliban launch three-pronged assault on Ghazni city,” Reuters, May 20, 2017, http://www.reuters.com/article/uk-afghanistan-taliban-idUSKCN18G0BI; Mujib Mashal, “Taliban Launch Rocket Attack and Kill at least 20 Afghan Police Officers,” New York Times, May 21, 2017, https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/21/world/asia/taliban-rocket-attack-police-officers.html?_r=0; “Two killed, one kidnapped in Afghan capital Kabul,” Reuters, May 21, 2017, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-afghanistan-kidnapping-idUSKCN18H06M.
- May 21, 2017: Up to 1,000 Taliban fighters attack police outposts across Zabul province, killing at least 20 Afghan police officers and wounding 10 others. Dozens of Taliban fighters are also killed, according to the military. Simultaneously, the Taliban fire rockets at the provincial governor’s compound in Qalat, causing no casualties but damaging the compound and a nearby police station.Mujib Mashal, “Taliban Launch Rocket Attack and Kill at Least 20 Afghan Police Officers,” New York Times, May 21, 2017, https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/21/world/asia/taliban-rocket-attack-police-officers.html?_r=0; “At least 20 Afghan police killed in Taliban ambushes: officials,” Reuters, May 21, 2017, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-afghanistan-taliban-idUSKBN18H085.
- May 22, 2017 — May 23, 2017: Just before midnight on May 22, a group of militants attack an Afghan military base in Kandahar province, killing at least 10 soldiers and wounding nine. Security forces kill at least a dozen of the attackers in a firefight. The Taliban claim responsibility. Early on May 23, Taliban fighters attack a police station in Badghis province, killing at least one policeman. Police kill 11 of the attackers during a gun battle.Reuters, “Militants kill 10 Afghan soldiers in base attack: defense officials,” Yahoo News, May 23, 2017, https://www.yahoo.com/news/militants-kill-10-afghan-soldiers-attack-defense-officials-084750444.html; “Afghan officials: Taliban attacks kill 8 soldiers, policeman,” Associated Press, May 23, 2017, https://apnews.com/592e583152764c97817d8e549d016759/Afghan-officials:-Taliban-attacks-kill-8-soldiers,-policeman.
- May 24, 2017: Taliban fighters attack multiple security checkpoints in southern Afghanistan, killing at least 13 Afghan soldiers and wounding eight others. At least 20 Taliban fighters are killed, according to the Afghan government.Amir Shah, “Official: At least 13 soldiers killed in south Afghanistan,” Associated Press, May 25, 2017, https://apnews.com/0ee8dbe1e37448508096a102745be665/Official:-At-least-13-soldiers-killed-in-south-Afghanistan; “Official: Taliban kills 15 soldiers in Kandahar,” Associated Press, May 26, 2017, https://apnews.com/b397a3a8722c4863922c55cb675d07cd/Official:-Taliban-kills-15-Afghan-soldiers-in-Kandahar.
- May 25, 2017: A suicide car bomber attacks a security checkpoint in Helmand province, killing three intelligence officers and wounding four others. The Taliban claim responsibility.Amir Shah, “Official: At least 13 soldiers killed in south Afghanistan,” Associated Press, May 25, 2017, https://apnews.com/0ee8dbe1e37448508096a102745be665/Official:-At-least-13-soldiers-killed-in-south-Afghanistan.
- May 26, 2017: Taliban fighters kill at least 15 soldiers in an attack on an Afghan army camp. At least 20 Taliban fighters are killed, according to the Afghan government.“Official: Taliban kills 15 Afghan soldiers in Kandahar,” Associated Press, May 26, 2017, https://apnews.com/b397a3a8722c4863922c55cb675d07cd/Official:-Taliban-kills-15-Afghan-soldiers-in-Kandahar.
- May 27, 2017: A suicide car bomber targets an Afghan military convoy guarding U.S. forces in Khost province. The bombing kills at least 18 people, mostly civilians. The Taliban claim responsibility.“Afghan official says 18 killed in suicide car bomb attack,” Associated Press, May 27, 2017, https://apnews.com/d6849bf06d3540d4bb3cbdc140638c70/Afghan-official-says-18-killed-in-suicide-car-bomb-attack.
- June 18, 2017: A suicide car bomber and accompanying gunmen attack the police headquarters in the Spin Ghar region in Paktia province. Five Afghan police officers are killed and 18 people are wounded. The Taliban claim responsibility in a WhatsApp message to journalists.Rod Nordland and Fahim Abed, “Taliban Attack Major Base in Eastern Afghanistan,” New York Times, June 18, 2017, https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/18/world/asia/afghanistan-taliban-attack-paktia-province.html?_r=0.
- June 20, 2017: Taliban gunmen kill at least eight Afghan security guards on their way to work at the U.S. base at Bagram air field.Jawad Sukhanyar, Fahim Abed, and Rod Nordland, “Killing of 8 Afghan Guards Shows Bitter Change at Bagram,” New York Times, June 20, 2017, https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/20/world/asia/afghanistan-guards-bagram-base-killed.html?mcubz=0; “Taliban kill 8 Afghan guards heading to work at US base,” Associated Press, June 20, 2017, https://apnews.com/abaca451d89d4d629b9cd8609e204c35/Taliban-kill-8-Afghan-guards-heading-to-work-at-US-base.
- June 24, 2017: A group of Taliban gunmen attack a security checkpoint near the electricity-producing Salma Dam in the Herat province. The gunmen kill at least 10 police officers, while four attackers are also killed.“Taliban attack targets police in Afghanistan's Herat,” Al Jazeera, June 25, 2017, http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/06/taliban-attack-targets-police-afghanistan-herat-170625102845231.html.
- June 29, 2017: Taliban fighters attack a security outpost in the western Farah province, killing at least six policemen and wounding three others. Nine Taliban fighters are killed in a three-hour gun battle, while others escape with stolen guns and ammunition.“Taliban kill 6 Afghan police in west; roadside bomb kills 7,” Associated Press, June 30, 2017, https://apnews.com/a8760d1d3fbb45dcabbc112c45db1d91/Taliban-kill-6-Afghan-police-in-west;-roadside-bomb-kills-7.
- July 24, 2017: A suicide car bombing alongside a government-owned bus kills at least 35 and wounds 40 in Kabul during rush hour. The explosion destroys the bus and several nearby shops. The bombing takes place near the home of Hajji Mohammed Mohaqiq, the deputy chief executive of the Afghan government. The Taliban claim responsibility and say they had targeted the Afghan intelligence service.“Taliban claim deadly Kabul suicide attack,” Al Jazeera, July 24, 2017, http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/07/casualties-feared-kabul-car-bomb-attack-170724034019038.html; “Afghan security scrutinized after suicide bomber kills 24,” Associated Press, July 25, 2017, https://apnews.com/3fa361e70b45437b9530e2a518338d43/Taliban-suicide-car-bombing-in-Kabul-kills-24-people; Mujib Mashal, “Living to Modernize Afghanistan, and Meeting a Grim End,” New York Times, July 24, 2017, https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/24/world/asia/kabul-explosion-afghanistan.html?rref=collection%2Fsectioncollection%2Fworld&action=click&contentCollection=world®ion=rank&module=package&version=highlights&contentPlacement=2&pgtype=sectionfront&_r=1; Hamid Shalizi and James Mackenzie, “Taliban suicide car bomber kills dozens in Afghan capital,” Reuters, July 23, 2017, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-afghanistan-blast-idUSKBN1A9067?il=0.
- July 26, 2017: Taliban fighters attack an Afghan military base in Kandahar province, capturing the base and killing at least 26 Afghan soldiers, according to the Afghan Defense Ministry. Other reports say at least 30 soldiers are killed. The Afghan military recaptures the base several hours later, killing or wounding at least 80 Taliban militants. The Taliban fighters steal weapons and vehicles. In a statement of responsibility, the Taliban claim they killed 74 soldiers and captured six others.“Dozens Killed In Taliban Attack On Afghan Military Base,” Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty, July 26, 2017, https://www.rferl.org/a/afghanistan-attack-kandahar-taliban/28638763.html, “Taliban kill 26 Afghan soldiers as fighting intensifies,” Reuters, July 26, 2017, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-afghanistan-taliban-idUSKBN1AB18Z.
- August 2, 2017: A suicide bomber attacks a NATO convoy in Kandahar, killing two U.S. soldiers and wounding four others. The Taliban claim responsibility.“US says 4 wounded in Afghan attack that killed 2 US troops,” Associated Press, August 3, 2017, https://apnews.com/c8be33c054324cb9b939f9ca391ab38a/US-says-4-wounded-in-Afghan-attack-that-killed-2-US-troops.
- August 3, 2017 — August 5, 2017: Up to 600 militants attack Mirzawalang village in the Sar-e Pul province, capturing the village after a 48-hour battle with the Afghan Local Police. At least 50 people—mostly civilians—are killed during the fighting. Most are shot but some are beheaded, according to government sources. Ten of the attackers also reportedly die in the fighting. Afghan officials say the attack is a joint operation by the Taliban and ISIS. Villagers report the presence of foreign fighters among the attackers, claiming to hear some attackers speaking Punjabi, Uzbek, and Turkmen. The Taliban confirm they captured Mirzawalang, but deny working with ISIS or foreign fighters. A Taliban spokesman says allegations that the Taliban are working with ISIS are meant to discredit the Taliban.Euan McKirdy and Ehsan Popalzai, “ISIS and Taliban join forces in deadly village attack, Afghan officials claim,” CNN, August 7, 2017, http://www.cnn.com/2017/08/07/asia/taliban-isis-joint-afghanistan-village-attack/index.html; “Taliban deny cooperating with Islamic State in Afghan attack,” Reuters, August 7, 2017, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-afghanistan-islamic-state-idUSKBN1AN1SB; “Officials: Taliban, ISIL coordinated Sar-e Pul attack,” Al Jazeera, August 7, 2017, http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/08/sar-pul-taliban-isil-joined-forces-kill-afghans-170807085258761.html.
- August 23, 2017: A suicide car bomber attacks an Afghan National Army convoy in Lashkar Gar, killing at least seven and wounding 38 others––including civilians. The Taliban claim responsibility.Taimoor Shah and Fahim Abed, “Taliban Kill 7 in Attack on Afghan National Convoy,” New York Times, August 23, 2017, https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/23/world/asia/afghanistan-taliban-helmand-suicide-attack.html.
- August 27, 2017: A suicide car bomber attacks a convoy of Afghan soldiers in Helmand province, killing at least 13 and wounding even more. The Taliban claim responsibility.“Taliban suicide bomb attack on Afghan forces kills 13,” Al Jazeera, August 28, 2017, http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/08/taliban-suicide-bomb-attack-afghan-forces-kills-13-170827211841741.html.
- August 29, 2017: A suicide car bomber attacks a bank in Kabul, killing five and wounding nine others. The Taliban claim responsibility.Mujib Mashal and Fatima Faizi, “Airstrikes in Afghanistan Kill More Than a Dozen Civilians,” New York Times, August 29, 2017, https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/29/world/asia/afghanistan-airstrikes-civilians.html.
- September 19, 2017: The Taliban kill three Afghan government workers abducted in Herat province in late August.“Afghan official: Taliban kill 3 abducted government workers,” Associated Press, September 19, 2017, https://apnews.com/efd1941b983a4abb843b91003637e498/Afghan-official:-Taliban-kill-3-abducted-government-workers.
- September 24, 2017: The Taliban retake the Kohistan district in Afghanistan’s province of Faryab.Bill Roggio, “Taliban retakes district in Afghan northwest,” Long War Journal, September 25, 2017, https://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2017/09/taliban-retakes-district-in-afghan-northwest.php.
- September 28, 2017: Taliban militants storm the compounds of the Maruf district governor in Afghanistan’s Kandahar province, killing 12 and wounding four others.“Official: 12 Afghan security forces killed in the south,” Associated Press, September 28, 2017, https://apnews.com/dcedb75c215943d3b9b8628c56cb3284/Official:-12-Afghan-security-forces-killed-in-the-south.
- October 15, 2017: Taliban militants attack checkpoints in Afghanistan’s Maruf district after hours of fighting, killing four policemen.“Afghan official: Taliban kill 4 police in Kandahar assault,” Associated Press, October 16, 2017, https://apnews.com/53a66933715841e19ba4e7374ea41c9a/Afghan-official:-Taliban-kill-4-police-in-Kandahar-assault.
- October 15-17, 2017: The Taliban seize the Shibkho district in Afghanistan’s Farah province and the Maruf district in Kandahar as it continues to gain ground in Afghanistan.Bill Roggio, “Taliban overruns 2 districts in southern Afghanistan,” Long War Journal, October 17, 2017, https://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2017/10/taliban-overruns-2-districts-in-southern-afghanistan.php.
- October 17, 2017: Taliban fighters drive two explosives-filled cars into a police training center in Gardez, the provincial capital of Paktia. Five gunmen wearing suicide belts then storm the compound, killing at least 41, including the provincial police chief. At least 158 people, mostly civilians, are wounded. Afghan security forces reportedly kill all five gunmen. In Ghazni’s Andar district, suicide bombers drive an explosives-filled Humvee into a security compound outside the provincial governor’s office. Gunmen then engage security forces in a nine-hour battle before they are repelled. At least 25 police officers and five civilians are killed, while 25 people are wounded. At least 13 of the attackers are also killed. In the Shibkho district in Farah province, gunmen attack a government compound, killing three policemen. The Taliban claim responsibility for all three attacks.Mujib Mashal and Fatima Faizi, “Afghan Taliban Blast Way Into Police Post, Killing Chief and Officers,” New York Times, October 17, 2017, https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/17/world/asia/afghanistan-taliban-police-attack.html; “Dozens killed in trio of Taliban attacks targeting police,” CBS News, October 17, 2017, https://www.cbsnews.com/news/taliban-attack-afghanistan-police-paktia-ghazni-farah/; “The Latest: Afghanistan: Taliban kill 71 people in attacks,” Associated Press, October 17, 2017, https://apnews.com/69d953e403304791b1b97bb8eb40f195/The-Latest:-Afghanistan:-Taliban-kill-71-people-in-attacks; Mirwais Harooni, “Taliban attacks kill at least 69 across Afghanistan,” Reuters, October 17, 2017, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-afghanistan-attack/taliban-attacks-kill-at-least-69-across-afghanistan-idUSKBN1CM0EX.
Designations by the U.S. Government:
|July 4, 1999: The White House designated the Taliban as a sponsor of terrorism under Executive Order (E.O.) 13129 on July 4, 1999.“Executive Order 13129 of July 4, 1999,” Federation of American Scientists, accessed April 9, 2015, http://fas.org/irp/offdocs/eo/eo-13129.htm.||July 2, 2002: The White House labeled the Taliban a Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT) on July 2, 2002.“Executive Order 13268 of July 2, 2002,” U.S. Government Publishing Office, July 3, 2002, http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2002-07-03/pdf/02-16951.pdf.|
|July 2, 2002: The White House labeled Mohammed Omar (a.k.a. Emir al-Mumineen) a Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT) on July 2, 2002.“Executive Order 13268 of July 2, 2002,” U.S. Government Publishing Office, July 3, 2002, http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2002-07-03/pdf/02-16951.pdf.|
|September 1, 2010: The U.S. Secretary of State designated Tahrik-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP) as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) on September 1, 2010.“Designations of Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan and Two Senior Leaders,” U.S. Department of State, September 1, 2010, http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2010/09/146545.htm.||September 1, 2010: The U.S. Department of the Treasury designated Tahrik-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP) as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT) pursuant to Executive Order 134224 on September 1, 2010.“Recent OFAC Actions-September 1, 2010,” U.S. Department of the Treasury, September 1, 2010, http://www.treasury.gov/resource-center/sanctions/OFAC-Enforcement/Pages/20100901.shtml.aspx.|
|September 1, 2010: The U.S. State Department listed top TTP leaders Hakimullah Mehsud and Wali ur-Rehman as Specifically Designated Global Terrorists on September 1, 2010.“Designations of Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan and Two Senior Leaders,” U.S. Department of State, September 1, 2010, http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2010/09/146545.htm.||January 13, 2015: The U.S. State Department listed TTP leader Mualana Fazlullah as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist on January 13, 2015.“Terrorist Designations of Mualana Fazlullah,” U.S. Department of State, January 13, 2015, http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2015/01/235901.htm.|
Designations by Foreign Governments and Organizations:
|July 5, 2011: Canada listed the Pakistani Taliban as a terrorist organization on July 5, 2011.“Currently Listed Entities,” Public Safety Canada, accessed April 16, 2015, http://www.publicsafety.gc.ca/cnt/ntnl-scrt/cntr-trrrsm/lstd-ntts/crrnt-lstd-ntts-eng.aspx#2044.||May 27, 2002: The European Union implemented United Nations Security Council Resolution 1267 (1999), 1390 (2002) on May 27, 2002. The resolution imposed “certain specific restrictive measures directed against certain persons and entities associated with Usama bin Laden, the Al-Qaida network and the Taliban” and froze “funds and other financial resources in respect of the Taliban of Afghanistan.”“EU Terrorist Listing,” Berghof Foundation for Peace Support, accessed April 17, 2015, http://www.berghof-foundation.org/fileadmin/redaktion/Publications/Other_Resources/RLM_EU_Terrorist_Listing.pdf. The E.U. implemented Council Decision 2011/486/CFSP, which put the following restrictions on the Taliban: embargo on arms and related materiel, ban on provision of certain services, freezing of funds and economic resources, restrictions on admission. “European Union Restrictive measures (sanctions) in force,” European Commission, accessed April 17, 2015, http://eeas.europa.eu/cfsp/sanctions/docs/measures_en.pdf.|
|October 12, 2006: Kazakhstan listed the Taliban as a terrorist organization on October 12, 2006. “Kazakhstan Updates List Of Banned Terrorist Groups,” Radio Free Europe, October 12, 2006, http://www.rferl.org/content/article/1071987.html.||October 17, 2002: New Zealand designated the Taliban as a terrorist organization on October 17, 2002 as part of the Terrorism Suppression Act of 2002.“Designated individuals and organisations,” New Zealand Police, accessed April 17, 2015, http://www.police.govt.nz/sites/default/files/publications/designated-entities-10-02-2015.pdf.|
|February 14, 2003: Russia listed the Taliban as a terrorist organization on February 14, 2003. “Единый федеральный список организаций, в том числе иностранных и международных организаций, признанных в соответствии с законодательством Российской Федерации террористическими,” Федеральная служба безопасности Российской Федерации,” accessed April 17, 2015, http://www.fsb.ru/fsb/npd/terror.htm.||October 15, 1999 The U.N. Security Council passed resolutions 1267 (1999) and 1989 (2011), also known as the “Al-Qaida Sanctions Committee” on October 15, 1999. The resolutions oversee “the implementation of sanctions measures imposed on Taliban-controlled Afghanistan for its support of Usama bin Laden.” The resolution has been amended and strengthened by the following resolutions: 1333 (2000), 1390 (2002), 1455 (2003), 1526 (2004), 1617 (2005), 1735 (2006), 1822 (2008), 1904 (2009), 2083 (2012) and resolution 2161 (2014).“Security Council Committee pursuant to resolutions 1267 (1999) and 1989 (2011) concerning Al-Qaida and associated individuals and entities, GENERAL INFORMATION ON THE WORK OF THE COMMITTEE,” United Nations Security Council, accessed April 17, 2015, http://www.un.org/sc/committees/1267/information.shtml. The United Nations listed the Pakistani Taliban under the category, “Entities and other groups and undertakings associated with Al Qaida” on July 29, 2011.“Security Council Committee pursuant to resolutions 1267 (1999) and 1989 (2011) concerning Al-Qaida and associated individuals and entities,” United Nations Security Council, accessed April 17, 2015, http://www.un.org/sc/committees/1267/entities_other_groups_undertakings_associated_with_Al-Qaida.shtml.|
|July 5, 2011: Canada listed the Pakistani Taliban as a terrorist organization on July 5, 2011.“Currently Listed Entities,” Public Safety Canada, accessed April 16, 2015, http://www.publicsafety.gc.ca/cnt/ntnl-scrt/cntr-trrrsm/lstd-ntts/crrnt-lstd-ntts-eng.aspx#2045.||July 29, 2011: France designated the Pakistani Taliban as a terrorist organization on July 29, 2011. “Liste terroriste unique,” Ministère des Finances et des Comptes Public, accessed April 17, 2015, http://www.tresor.economie.gouv.fr/5563_liste-terroriste-unique.|
|November 15, 2014: The United Arab Emirates listed the Pakistani Taliban as a terrorist organization on November 15, 2014.“UAE cabinet endorses new list of terrorist groups,” Kuwait News Agency (KUNA), November 15, 2014, https://www.kuna.net.kw/ArticleDetails.aspx?id=2408700&Language=en.||January 2011: The United Kingdom listed the Pakistani Taliban as a terrorist organization in January 2011.“Proscribed Terrorist Organisations,” Home Office, accessed April 17, 2015, https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/417888/Proscription-20150327.pdf.|
|October 15, 1999: The U.N. Security Council passed resolutions 1267 (1999) and 1989 (2011), also known as the “Al-Qaida Sanctions Committee” on October 15, 1999. The resolutions oversee “the implementation of sanctions measures imposed on Taliban-controlled Afghanistan for its support of Usama bin Laden.” The resolution has been amended and strengthened by the following resolutions: 1333 (2000), 1390 (2002), 1455 (2003), 1526 (2004), 1617 (2005), 1735 (2006), 1822 (2008), 1904 (2009), 2083 (2012) and resolution 2161 (2014). The United Nations listed the Pakistani Taliban under the category, “Entities and other groups and undertakings associated with Al Qaida” on July 29, 2011.“Security Council Committee pursuant to resolutions 1267 (1999) and 1989 (2011) concerning Al-Qaida and associated individuals and entities, GENERAL INFORMATION ON THE WORK OF THE COMMITTEE,” United Nations Security Council, accessed April 17, 2015 accessed April 17, 2015, http://www.fsb.ru/fsb/npd/terror.htm.|
Ties to Extremist Entities:
The Taliban provided a safe haven for al-Qaeda insurgents in Afghanistan prior to the September 11, 2001, terror attacks.Richard Barrett, Sajjan Gohel, Ronald E. Neumann, and Nigel Inkster, “The al-Qaeda-Taliban Nexus,” Council on Foreign Relations, November 25, 2009, http://www.cfr.org/pakistan/al-qaeda-taliban-nexus/p20838. In 1996, Osama bin Laden met with Taliban leader Mullah Omar and formally pledged his allegiance and financial backing in exchange for protection from the Taliban.Steve Coll, “Looking for Mullah Omar,” New Yorker, January 23, 2012, http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2012/01/23/looking-for-mullah-omar.
During this time, bin Laden established al-Qaeda’s 55th Arab Brigade to fight alongside the Taliban in Afghanistan.Bill Roggio and Thomas Joscelyn, “The al-Qaeda-Taliban Connection,” Weekly Standard, July 4, 2011, http://www.weeklystandard.com/the-al-qaeda-taliban-connection/article/575548. Leaked memos from the U.S. military Joint Task Force Guantanamo describe the brigade as bin Laden’s “primary battle formation supporting Taliban objectives,” with bin Laden “participating closely in the command and control of the brigade.”Bill Roggio and Thomas Joscelyn, “The al-Qaeda-Taliban Connection,” Weekly Standard, July 4, 2011, http://www.weeklystandard.com/the-al-qaeda-taliban-connection/article/575548.
Following the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan in October 2001, al-Qaeda and the Taliban fled to the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) of Pakistan, where both organizations began to regroup and retool.Richard Barrett, Sajjan Gohel, Ronald E. Neumann, and Nigel Inkster, “The al-Qaeda-Taliban Nexus,” Council on Foreign Relations, November 25, 2009, http://www.cfr.org/pakistan/al-qaeda-taliban-nexus/p20838. After the 55th Arab Brigade was destroyed by coalition forces in late 2001, bin Laden and al-Qaeda rebuilt the organization as the Lashkar al Zil, or “the Shadow Army,” recruiting from jihadist groups in Pakistan.Bill Roggio and Thomas Joscelyn, “The al-Qaeda-Taliban Connection,” Weekly Standard, July 4, 2011, http://www.weeklystandard.com/the-al-qaeda-taliban-connection/article/575548.
Al-Qaeda maintained a close relationship with the Taliban following the U.S. invasion. A U.S. intelligence report acquired by Bill Roggio and Thomas Joscelyn from Guantanamo Bay described “a newly-conceived ‘unification’ of Al Qaeda and Taliban forces within Afghanistan.”Bill Roggio and Thomas Joscelyn, “The al-Qaeda-Taliban Connection,” Weekly Standard, July 4, 2011, http://www.weeklystandard.com/the-al-qaeda-taliban-connection/article/575548. The same report indicated that Mullah Omar and bin Laden “envisioned this new coalition” during a meeting in Pakistan in early spring 2003.Bill Roggio and Thomas Joscelyn, “The al-Qaeda-Taliban Connection,” Weekly Standard, July 4, 2011, http://www.weeklystandard.com/the-al-qaeda-taliban-connection/article/575548.
Guantanamo detainee Haroon al Afghan reported an August 2006 meeting during which commanders of the Taliban and al-Qaeda “decided to increase terrorist operations in the Kapisa, Kunar, Laghman, and Nangarhar provinces, including suicide bombings, mines, and assassinations.”Bill Roggio and Thomas Joscelyn, “The al-Qaeda-Taliban Connection,” Weekly Standard, July 4, 2011, http://www.weeklystandard.com/the-al-qaeda-taliban-connection/article/575548.
Despite the increasing number of drone attacks in the Pakistani tribal areas under the Obama administration, the death of bin Laden in 2011, and continued killing of many senior al-Qaeda leaders, the alliance between al-Qaeda and the Taliban is likely to endure. Both organizations have proven they are adept at reforming their structure and tactics even while weakened and vulnerable.Simon Franzen, “Unity in Terrorism,” Institute for Middle Eastern Democracy, 2012, http://instmed.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/Al-Qaeda-and-the-Taliban.pdf. Following the death of bin Laden in 2011, Ayman al-Zawahiri, the new emir of al-Qaeda, has repeatedly renewed his oath of allegiance to the leader of the Taliban.Thomas Joscelyn, “Al Qaeda Renews Its Oath of Allegiance to Taliban Leader Mullah Omar,” Long War Journal, July 21, 2014, http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2014/07/al_qaeda_renews_its.php. Al-Qaeda leaders have also been featured in Taliban propaganda videos, confirming the continued alliance between the two groups.Thomas Joscelyn and Bill Roggio, “Taliban rejects peace talks, emphasizes alliance with al Qaeda in new video,” Long War Journal, December 9, 2016, https://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2016/12/taliban-rejects-peace-talks-emphasizes-alliance-with-al-qaeda-in-new-video.php.
The Taliban maintain particularly close ties with al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS), an al-Qaeda branch formed in September 2014. AQIS’s emir, Asim Omar, was a former commander in the Pakistani Taliban and reported directly to Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar before the latter’s death.Bill Roggio, “Al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent Incorporates Regional Jihadist Groups,” Long War Journal, September 5, 2014, http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2014/09/analysis_al_qaeda_in.php. AQIS fights alongside the Taliban in the Afghan insurgency. AQIS published a “Code of Conduct” in June 2017, in which it reiterated its allegiance to the emir of the Taliban and revealed that its members fight “shoulder-to-shoulder” with the Taliban––and sometimes even under its banner. It also revealed that AQIS is so closely integrated with the Taliban that some AQIS members are part of the Taliban’s chain-of-command.Thomas Joscelyn, “AQIS emphasizes allegiance to Ayman al Zawahiri, Taliban in new ‘code of conduct,’” Long War Journal, June 26, 2017, https://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2017/06/aqis-emphasizes-allegiance-to-ayman-al-zawahiri-taliban-in-new-code-of-conduct.php.
Shortly after the Taliban assumed governance of Afghanistan in 1996, Jalaluddin Haqqani accepted an appointment as Minister of Tribal Affairs.Richard Barrett, Sajjan Gohel, Ronald E. Neumann and Nigel Inkster, “The al-Qaeda-Taliban Nexus,” Council on Foreign Relations, November 25, 2009, https://www.ctc.usma.edu/posts/the-evolution-of-iran%E2%80%99s-special-groups-in-iraq. Ever since, the Haqqani Network has been “officially subsumed under the larger Taliban umbrella organization led by Mullah Omar,” although the Haqqanis “maintain distinct command and control, and lines of operations.”“Part 3: Through the eyes of the Taliban,” Asia Times Online, May 5, 2004, http://www.understandingwar.org/report/haqqani-network. In 2008, Haqqani stated that “all the Mujahideen wage Jihad under the leadership of the Ameer ul-Momineen Mullah Mohammed Omar Mujahid against the American invaders and their lackeys.”“Part 3: Through the eyes of the Taliban,” Asia Times Online, May 5, 2004, http://www.understandingwar.org/report/haqqani-network.
In September 2012, Haqqani’s son Sirajauddin declared, “We are one of the fronts of the Islamic Emirate… and we are proud of our pledge to its Emir [Mullah Omar] and we carry out its orders and all its regulations… and we obey completely in good deeds the Emir of the Believers Mullah Muhammad Omar.”Bill Roggio, “Haqqani Network is part of the Taliban- Siraj Haqqani,” Long War Journal, October 5, 2012, http://www.understandingwar.org/report/haqqani-network. The Taliban also released a statement on its website stating that there is “no separate entity or network in Afghanistan by the name of Haqqani” and that Jalaluddin Haqqani is “a member of the Leadership Council of Islamic Emirate and is a close, loyal and trusted associate” of Mullah Omar.Bill Roggio, “Haqqani Network is part of the Taliban- Siraj Haqqani,” Long War Journal, October 5, 2012, http://www.understandingwar.org/report/haqqani-network.
Ties to Other Entities:
Throughout the 1990s, Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) provided support and training to Mullah Omar while he organized the Taliban in Kandahar.Bruce Riedel, “Pakistan, Taliban and the Afghan Quagmire,” Brookings Institution, August 24, 2013, http://www.brookings.edu/research/opinions/2013/08/26-pakistan-influence-over-afghan-taliban-riedel.
By 2001, Pakistan was providing the Taliban regime in Kabul with hundreds of military advisers, thousands of Pakistani Pashtuns to serve in the Taliban’s infantry, and Special Services Group commandoes to help fight the Northern Alliance.Bruce Riedel, “Pakistan, Taliban and the Afghan Quagmire,” Brookings Institution, August 24, 2013, http://www.brookings.edu/research/opinions/2013/08/26-pakistan-influence-over-afghan-taliban-riedel. The ISI also facilitated the alliance between Mullah Omar and Osama bin laden prior to 9/11.Bruce Riedel, “Pakistan, Taliban and the Afghan Quagmire,” Brookings Institution, August 24, 2013, http://www.brookings.edu/research/opinions/2013/08/26-pakistan-influence-over-afghan-taliban-riedel.
Although Pakistani officials deny supporting the Taliban after 9/11, a leaked 2006 report from a British Defense Ministry think tank concluded, “Pakistan (through the ISI) has been supporting terrorism and extremism--whether in London on 7/7 [the July 2005 attacks on London's transit system], or in Afghanistan, or Iraq.”Jayshree Bajoria and Eben Kaplan, “The ISI and Terrorism: Behind the Accusations,” Council on Foreign Relations, May 4, 2011, http://www.cfr.org/pakistan/isi-terrorism-behind-accusations/p11644.
Similarly, a NATO study published in 2012 based on the interrogations of 4,000 captured Taliban, al-Qaeda, and other fighters in Afghanistan concluded that “ISI support was critical to the survival and revival of the Taliban after 2001 just as it was critical to its conquest of Afghanistan in the 1990s.”Bruce Riedel, “Pakistan, Taliban and the Afghan Quagmire,” Brookings Institution, August 24, 2013, http://www.brookings.edu/research/opinions/2013/08/26-pakistan-influence-over-afghan-taliban-riedel.
The NATO report also determined that the ISI is “thoroughly aware of Taliban activities and the whereabouts of all senior Taliban personnel.”Bruce Riedel, “Pakistan, Taliban and the Afghan Quagmire,” Brookings Institution, August 24, 2013, http://www.brookings.edu/research/opinions/2013/08/26-pakistan-influence-over-afghan-taliban-riedel. While he was alive, Mullah Omar was believed to be hiding in Quetta and Karachi under the protection of the ISI.Bruce Riedel, “Pakistan, Taliban and the Afghan Quagmire,” Brookings Institution, August 24, 2013, http://www.brookings.edu/research/opinions/2013/08/26-pakistan-influence-over-afghan-taliban-riedel.
In January 2012, the Taliban announced their agreement to open an office in Doha, Qatar. Western observers viewed the decision as a sign of the Taliban’s possible willingness to enter formal talks with the West.Matthew Rosenberg, “Taliban Opening Qatar Office, and Maybe Door to Talks,” New York Times, January 3, 2012, http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/04/world/asia/taliban-to-open-qatar-office-in-step-toward-peace-talks.html. The U.S. government reportedly approved the move in 2011.Nick Amies, “US endorses Taliban office in Qatar in bid to bolster talks,” Deutsche-Welle, September 16, 2011, http://www.dw.com/en/us-endorses-taliban-office-in-qatar-in-bid-to-bolster-talks/a-15392674. The Taliban opened its Doha office, the group’s first overseas, in June 2013.Agence France-Presse, “Afghan peace in 6 months: Zardari, Karzai set an ambitious target,” Express Tribune (Karachi), February 5, 2013, http://tribune.com.pk/story/502839/afghan-peace-in-6-months-zardari-karzai-set-an-ambitious-target/; “Q&A: Afghan Taliban open Doha office,” BBC News, June 20, 2013, http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-22957827. In 2017, a Taliban official told Al Jazeera that Qatar played a significant role in initiating peace talks between the terror group and Afghanistan by allowing the group to open its Doha office.Shereena Qazi, “Afghan Taliban: Qatar plays major role in peace talks,” Al Jazeera, August 1, 2017, http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/08/afghan-taliban-qatar-plays-major-role-peace-talks-170801082357391.html.
In July 2017, the New York Times revealed 2011 e-mails between Yousef al-Otaiba, the United Arab Emirates’ ambassador to the United States, and the UAE foreign ministry showing that the UAE had sought to host the Taliban office instead of Qatar.David D. Kirkpatrick, “Persian Gulf Rivals Competed to Host Taliban, Leaked Emails Show,” New York Times, July 31, 2017, https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/31/world/middleeast/uae-qatar-taliban-emails.html. Otaiba responded the following month in a letter-to-the-editor alleging that the UAE had insisted the Taliban first renounce its ties to al-Qaeda before opening an office in its country. According to Otaiba, the Taliban refused and Qatar made no similar demand of the group.Yousef al-Otaiba, “The United Arab Emirates and the Taliban,” New York Times, August 9, 2017, https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/09/opinion/the-united-arab-emirates-and-the-taliban.html.
In December 2016, the Taliban demanded direct talks with the United States and official recognition of its Doha office as a political office.Ayaz Gul, “Taliban Seeks Recognition for Qatar Office, Direct Talks With US,” Voice of America, December 8, 2016, https://www.voanews.com/a/taliban-seeks-recognition-for-qatar-office-direct-talks-with-us/3628179.html. In February 2017, Afghan President Ashraf Gani met with Qatari Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani and demanded the closure of the Taliban’s Doha office until the group ceased its violent activities in Afghanistan.Abdul Wali Arian, “Taliban’s Qatar Office Should Be Closed: Ghani,” Tolo News, February 20, 2017, http://www.tolonews.com/afghanistan/taliban%E2%80%99s-qatar-office-should-be-closed-ghani.
In April 2017, U.S. General John Nicholson, who commands U.S. forces in Afghanistan, said the U.S. military had received reports that Russia is arming the Taliban. Other U.S. military officials corroborated the reports and said that Russia had increased its supply of small arms to the Taliban in the past 18 months. Russia denied the allegations.Thomas Gibbons-Neff, “Russia is sending weapons to Taliban, top U.S. general confirms,” Washington Post, April 24, 2017, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/checkpoint/wp/2017/04/24/russia-is-sending-weapons-to-taliban-top-u-s-general-confirms/?utm_term=.1b3e9c11fe7a. A Taliban video released in late July 2017 claimed that the Russian government has provided the terrorist group with snipers, heavy machine guns, and other weapons.Nick Patton Walsh and Masoud Popalzai, “Videos suggest Russian government may be arming Taliban,” CNN, July 26, 2017, http://edition.cnn.com/2017/07/25/asia/taliban-weapons-afghanistan/index.html. Nicholson has previously criticized Russia for providing “legitimacy” to the Taliban.Thomas Gibbons-Neff, “Russia is sending weapons to Taliban, top U.S. general confirms,” Washington Post, April 24, 2017, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/checkpoint/wp/2017/04/24/russia-is-sending-weapons-to-taliban-top-u-s-general-confirms/?utm_term=.1b3e9c11fe7a.
Taliban officials claim that the group has had prominent contacts with Russia since at least 2007, but that Russia’s role with respect to the Taliban does not go beyond “moral and political support.”Phil Stewart and Idrees Ali, “Russia May Be Helping Supply Taliban Insurgents: U.S. General,” Reuters, March 23, 2017, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-afghanistan-russia-idUSKBN16U234. In December 2016, Afghan officials accused Russian of providing—mostly—political support to the Taliban. Russia’s ambassador to Afghanistan, Alexander Mantytskiy, denied “intensive contacts” with the Taliban and claimed that his country’s engagement with the group was aimed solely at protecting Russians in Afghanistan and furthering peace talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government. Nonetheless, Afghan and U.S. security officials called Russian contacts with the Taliban a “dangerous new trend” that gives Russia “malign influence” in Afghanistan.Hamid Shalizi and Josh Smith, “Ties between Russia and the Taliban worry Afghan, U.S. officials,” Reuters, October 7, 2016, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-afghanistan-russia/ties-between-russia-and-the-taliban-worry-afghan-u-s-officials-idUSKBN13W2XJ.
Saudi Arabia maintained diplomatic and financial ties to the Taliban when the group controlled the Afghan government in the 1990s. In 1998, the Taliban rejected a Saudi demand to deport Osama bin Laden.Judith Miller and James Risen, “Backed by U.S., Saudis Seek Afghan Ouster of Bin Laden,” New York Times, October 18, 1998, http://www.nytimes.com/1998/10/18/world/backed-by-us-saudis-seek-afghan-ouster-of-bin-laden.html. Nonetheless, Saudi Arabia maintained its relationship with the Taliban government until its overthrow in 2001.Carlotta Gall, “Saudis Bankroll Taliban, Even as King Officially Supports Afghan Government,” New York Times, December 6, 2016, https://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/06/world/asia/saudi-arabia-afghanistan.html.
After the fall of the Taliban government, Saudi Arabia became a source of private funding for the Taliban. Former Taliban Finance Minister Agha Jan Motasim told the New York Times that after the Taliban fell from power in 2001, he would frequently travel from Pakistan to Saudi Arabia to raise money as the Taliban regrouped. Motasim claimed he traveled to Saudi Arabia two to three times a year from 2002 to 2007 to raise money from foundations, wealthy Saudis, and other individuals who traveled to the country on pilgrimage to Mecca. Motasim also claimed that Saudi Arabia provided the only location where he could meet with donors from other countries. In 2009, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called Saudi Arabia the “most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide.”Carlotta Gall, “Saudis Bankroll Taliban, Even as King Officially Supports Afghan Government,” New York Times, December 6, 2016, https://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/06/world/asia/saudi-arabia-afghanistan.html; “TERRORIST FINANCE: ACTION REQUEST FOR SENIOR LEVEL ENGAGEMENT ON TERRORISM FINANCE,” WikiLeaks, December 30, 2009, https://wikileaks.org/plusd/cables/09STATE131801_a.html. Former Saudi intelligence chief Prince Turki al-Faisal denied that his government provided any support for the Taliban.Carlotta Gall, “Saudis Bankroll Taliban, Even as King Officially Supports Afghan Government,” New York Times, December 6, 2016, https://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/06/world/asia/saudi-arabia-afghanistan.html.
Saudi Arabia reportedly sought to host the Taliban’s political office before Qatar, according to Abdullah Anas, a former mujahideen fighter with ties to Osama bin Laden who laid early groundwork for the Afghan peace process. With the alleged support of Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Saudi intelligence, Anas traveled between Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan between 2006 and 2008 in an attempt to launch a dialogue that included the Taliban.“Saudi Arabia and UAE ‘tried to host’ Taliban first,” Al Jazeera, August 12, 2017, http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/08/saudi-arabia-uae-host-taliban-170812171821732.html; David Hearst, “Saudi Arabia tried to host Taliban office, says former mujahidin,” Middle East Eye, August 11, 2017, http://www.middleeasteye.net/news/saudi-arabia-failed-bid-host-taliban-office-says-former-mujaheddin-qatar-uae-719884153.