Who are the Taliban?

In 1989, after the Soviet troops left, a civil war broke out in the southwest and Pakistani border areas, with U.S. assistance. They promised to fight corruption and improve security while also practicing a radical Islam.

Following the 9/11 attacks, US-led forces drove the Taliban out of power in Afghanistan. These days, the group is regaining power. They imposed Sharia law and severe penalties. The men were forced to keep beards and women to wear the niqab (covering the entire face). With up to 85,000 full-time fighters, banning T.V., music, and movies are some of the main priorities of the Taliban.

October 7, 2001
The US-led coalition bombs Taliban and al-Qaeda targets. Afghanistan’s three main cities are targeted. The Taliban will not hand over Bin Laden. We destroy their air defenses and a small fighter fleet.

November 13, 2001
As the Taliban fled Kabul, the Northern Alliance, a coalition-backed anti-Taliban rebel group, entered. By then, the Taliban had fled or been neutralized. Others fall quickly.

Brits entered Helmand province, a Taliban stronghold in the south of Afghanistan, in May 2006. Instead of supporting reconstruction efforts, they were dragged into combat. During the war in Afghanistan, over 450 British soldiers died.

Obama approved a significant increase in troop levels to Afghanistan on February 17, 2009. They numbered around 140,000 people.

May 2, 2011
U.S. Navy Seals attack a compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, killing al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden

April 23, 2013
Mullah Mohammed Omar, the founder of the Taliban, died. His death was concealed for two years.

December 28, 2014
NATO ended its combat operations in Afghanistan at a ceremony in Kabul on Friday. Thousands of U.S. troops had already left.

The Taliban attacked with car bombs and other means. Both the Kabul and Kunduz parliaments were hit. In Afghanistan, ISIS militants commenced operations.

January 25, 2019
More than 45,000 Afghan security personnel have been killed since President Ashraf Ghani took office in 2014.

February 29, 2020
The “agreement for peace” was signed in Doha, Qatar. If the militants honour the deal, the U.S. and NATO allies will withdraw all troops in 14 months.

September 11, 2021
Precisely 20 years after 9/11, Joe Biden announced in April that U.S. forces would leave Afghanistan on September 11, 2021. Evidence suggests that the withdrawal may be completed ahead of schedule.

May 1, 2021
The U.S. ended its final withdrawal from Afghanistan.

July 6, 2021
The U.S. evacuated Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan’s most extensive military base since the 2001 invasion.

On August 6, 2021
The Taliban took control of provincial capitals.

8 August, 2021
Taliban take Sar-e-Pull, Kunduz, and Kabul.

August 11, 2021

Surrender in the north-eastern Badakhshan and western Bagola provinces.

August 14, 2021
Terrorists take over the country’s fourth-largest city.

August 27, 2021
The Thursday suicide blasts near Kabul airport make August the deadliest month for US soldiers in Afghanistan in over eight years. The explosions killed 13 American troops. According to icasualities.org, the most recent death toll in Iraq and Afghanistan was 17 in June 2013.

August 31, 2021
“Congratulations to Afghanistan this victory belongs to us all,” Zabihullah Mujahid told reporters. “America was defeated, they could not achieve their targets through military operations,” he said.⁠⁠
Hours after the last foreign forces withdrew from Afghanistan, Taliban leaders walked victorious through the Kabul airport, flanked by guards dressed in special forces combat kit inspecting destroyed US military equipment.⁠⁠

According to Taliban officials, they will strictly enforce the agreement and prevent any group from attacking the U.S. and its allies using Afghan soil. An “Islamic government” would not threaten other countries, they stated.

The Woodstocker interviewed Jalal, a Woodstock alumni who lived in Afghanistan, experiencing life amongst the Taliban firsthand.  

Is the Taliban doing the right thing? If not, then why? 

They are trying to take away our fundamental human rights. That implies every Christian or Buddhist who stays in Afghanistan will be murdered. The only exception is if the female companion is wearing a hijab. A woman’s right to work and study is severely hampered.

What were the legitimate ways of leaving Afghanistan?

We couldn’t catch a cab and had to walk to the airport because of the terrible traffic. Each individual may only have one bag pack. Everyone was barred from entering the airport because of Taliban security. They continued firing up in the air to frighten people. A company that provided protection helped us by arranging family vehicles. To get inside the airport, we had to wait 12 hours for Taliban clearance.

How much genuine support does the Taliban have on the local ground?

People are demanding their rights, but the Taliban were brutal against them. Nobody liked the way things were going in Afghanistan. We battled for fundamental human rights 20 years ago.

What are the few things that the media don’t show but are happening in Afghanistan?

They beat them up, spray tear gas, and shoot to disperse them. The media ignores this. The man was shot dead for having tattoos. After the Taliban took control, several people’s hands were chopped off to steal their families’ food. A group of Taliban attacked individuals working for the government, beating them up.

What about education in Afghanistan? 

We worked extremely hard for 20 years to create a solid education system that we could observe. Afghanistan had excellent schools and universities, but they closed them and won’t reopen them since the Taliban took control.

Personally, how are you coping with the situation, and where are you currently staying?

I feel like I’ve left behind things that matter a lot to me. It makes me feel terrible and awful for not being there with the protesters. To counteract that emotion, I stay active on social media, solicit contributions, and educate people about the current situation in Afghanistan. I live in Berlin, Germany.

How were you able to go to Germany?

We reached out to several individuals and received replies from a handful who supplied us with documentation from the German consulate. We could only leave Afghanistan on a military aircraft because of that documentation. We lost hope after many attempts, one of which resulted in tear gas, until the security organization intervened. Despite the proper documentation, the German troops in charge of transporting individuals to Germany were brutal. With the help of the embassy, we were led to the aircraft and left Afghanistan feeling relieved.

Towseef is a staff reporter

Edited by Rewa

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