Who’s who in the Taliban
August 16, 2021 - Co-founded by Mullah Mohammed Omar and Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar in 1994, the Taliban emerged from the chaos of civil war. Following the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, a decade-long guerrilla war had attracted “mujahideen” rebels from across the Islamic world -- including Saudi jihadist Osama bin Laden.
Backed by Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency, the Taliban seized power in 1996. Mullah Omar imposed a ruthless brand of Sharia (Islamic law), with public executions, amputation for those found guilty of theft, and the brutal oppression of women.
Mullah Omar grants sanctuary to bin Laden and his followers in 1998. The same year, Al Qaeda attacks against United States Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania killed 224 people.
Al Qaeda attacked the American destroyer USS Cole in 2000, killing 17 U.S. sailors. Still, it took the 9/11 attacks, which killed 2,977 people in the United States, to trigger the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan.