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Database: Identifiers of Designated Islamic Terrorist Organizations
Designated as terrorist by: Canada
Base of operations: Afghanistan, Pakistan
The Taliban (Pashto for "Students") is a Sunni Islamist movement that seized control of Afghanistan in 1996 and ruled the country under the banner of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan until being ousted by U.S.-led forces in 2001. Headed at the time by Mullah Mohammad Omar and consisting largely of Pashtun fighters, the Taliban governed Afghanistan according to a severe interpretation of Islamic law that featured draconian restrictions on women's freedom; public amputations and executions; and bans on television, radio, and the internet. It also provided a safe haven to Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaeda terrorist network, which used Afghanistan as a base to prepare the hijackings of September 11, 2001. Mullah Omar remained a wanted man for sheltering bin Laden. After its leadership regrouped in Pakistan following the post-9/11 invasion, the Taliban launched a bloody campaign to reclaim Afghanistan, attacking coalition troops, Western embassies, and Afghan forces through suicide bombings, IEDs, guerilla warfare, and more. Foreign aid workers and schools for girls have been other targets. There are concerns that the Taliban will return to power once the U.S. military leaves Afghanistan in the near future.
As of 2015, it emerged that Mullah Omar's death had been covered up by the Taliban, and a new amir- Mullah Akhtar Mansour- was officially appointed amid discontent in many circles. The Islamic State has tried to play on disillusionment in building its 'Khorasan Province' affiliate at the expense of Taliban influence in Afghanistan, primarily building a foothold in Nangarhar in the east of the country.
Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri pledged allegiance to Mullah Akhtar Mansour, keen to hold him up as a figure of authority amid risk of fallout over claims of elaborate deception regarding Mullah Omar's death. Affinity between the Taliban and al-Qaeda has become very close in the face of the Islamic State challenge.
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