Religious Influences: Taliban - part 2

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The Pakistani Taliban and other terrorist groups have their roots in the military dictatorship of General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq, whose Islamization policies promoted Islamic extremeism. These groups have acted as proxies for the Pakistani government in its struggle with India over Kashmir and also in support of the Afghan Taliban and al-Qaeda.

Nicholas Listen to this audio about the Taliban - part 2 from Nicholas Schmidle "Living With Political Islam"

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Following the 2001 terrorist attacks on the U.S., a group of U.S. and coalition forces ousted the Taliban from Afghanistan. As coalition forces gained ground in Afghanistan the Taliban moved into neighboring Pakistan [24]. The Taliban in Pakistan, made up of various groups who were originally rivals for regional power, have banded together in a loose alliance in response to Pakistani and U.S. military action in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas. There are three main Taliban factions: the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), the Haqqani Network (HQN), and the Tehrik-e-Nifaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi (TNSM) [25].  

Hakimullah MehsudThe TTP was founded in 2004 by Baitullah Mehsud, a militant leader, as a response to Pakistani military incursions into South Waziristan. Interference by the Pakistani government has long been disdained by the tribal leaders in the Federally Administered Tribal Area. Baitullah Mehsud launched attacks against tribal leaders who favored negotiating with the Pakistani government. The TTP have funded suicide bombings, allowed Afghan Taliban forces to use their bases, launched attacks against coalition forces, and are considered to be the most dangerous Taliban organization. The U.S., also believing the TTP to be harboring Al Qaeda, began a series of airstrikes in South Waziristan. Baitullah Mehsud was killed in 2009 by an Unmanned Aircraft System and the TTP then passed into the hands of Hakimullah Mehsud, a cousin of Baitullah [26]. In January 2010, it was reported that Hakimullah Mehsud had been killed and that leadership has temporarily been given to Malik Noor Jamal (aka Maulana Toofan). The TTP denied Mehsud's death, and the confession of failed Times Square bomber, Faisal Shahzad, supports their claim that Mehsud is alive and still in control of the TTP [27].

Jalaluddin HaqqaniThe HQN, founded by Jalaluddin Haqqani in North Waziristan, is responsible for a significant amount of attacks in Afghanistan's Patika province. Jalaluddin is a powerful tribal leader who was once the commander of all Taliban forces in Afghanistan in the late 1990's; he was also used as a partner by the CIA and Pakistan's Inter-Service-Intelligence (ISI) in funneling arms to the mujahideen in Afghanistan to fight the Soviets. Additionally, Jalaluddin brokered the Waziristan Accord for peace between the Pakistani government and tribal elders, allowing the HQN to gain more influence. The HQN cooperates with the TTP for logistical support, and both share opium smuggling trade routes between Afghanistan and Pakistan [28].

Maulana FazlullahThe TNSM was founded in 1992 by Maulana Sufi Muhammad in response to the U.S. presence in Pakistan. The TNSM became powerful after rallying thousands of Pakistani tribesmen to fight the Northern Alliance. Members of the TNSM who returned from fighting in Afghanistan began a militancy campaign against the agencies of Bajaur and Malakand and have also begun implementing Shar'ia law in the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. In response, the Pakistani government captured Sufi Muhammad for subversion. Once Sufi Muhammad was in prison, control fell to his son-in-law Maulana Fazlullah [29].

Opium trade is considered to be a major source of income for the Taliban. They do not directly control the poppy farming, opium production or any facet of the trade. Rather they use strong-arm tactics to tax those involved in exchange for protection – similar to other organized crime syndicates throughout the world.

Mullah Muhammad Omar
Nicholas Listen to this audio about the funding source for the Taliban from
Nicholas Schmidle "Living With Political Islam"

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The leader of the Taliban is Mullah [Islamic teacher] Muhammad Omar. Mullah Omar fought against the Soviet Union prior to their withdrawal from Afghanistan in 1989. Because the Taliban's activities are highly secretive and Mullah Omar is extremely reclusive, very little is known about him. Along with Osama Bin Laden and other al-Qaeda operatives, he is believed to be operating out of Pakistan [30].

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