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Timeline: The Taliban

Key dates in the history of the Taliban and Contemporary Afghanistan

by Laura Hayes and Borgna Brunner
1979-2000 2001 2002-2006 2006-2008
1979

Soviet Union invades Afghanistan.

1980

Soviet troops install a puppet regime in Kabul. The U.S., Pakistan, China, Iran, and Saudi Arabia offer support to mujahideen "freedom fighters" as they begin a guerrilla war against the Soviets.

1988–1989

Soviet troops withdraw.

1992

Mujahideen forces, led by Ahmed Shah Massoud, remove the Soviet-backed government of Mohammad Najibullah. Rival militias vie for influence.

1993

The factions agree on the formation of a government with Burhanuddin Rabbani as president, but infighting continues. Lawlessness is rampant.

1994

September

The Taliban are appointed by Pakistan to protect a trade convoy and quickly emerge as one of the strongest factions.

1996

September

The Taliban, under the leadership of Mullah Muhammad Omar, seize control of Kabul and implement a strict interpretation of Islamic law. They exile President Rabbani and execute Najibullah.

The Taliban offer Osama bin Laden refuge.

1997

Sept.–Oct.

The Taliban fail to capture and hold the city of Mazar-i-Sharif (held sacred by Shiites as the site of Ali's grave). Pakistani religious schools send reinforcements to the Taliban.

1998

Aug. 20

The U.S. launches missiles at suspected bin Laden bases in retaliation for the bombing of embassies in Africa.

Sept. 13

The Taliban take over the city of Bamian.

1999

March

A UN-brokered peace agreement is reached between the Taliban and their main remaining foe, the Northern Alliance under Ahmed Shah Massoud. Fighting breaks out again in July.

October

The Taliban take Mazar-i-Sharif. There are unconfirmed reports of mass arrests and executions (numbering in the thousands) of Shiites, especially of the Hazara ethnic group.

November

The U.N. imposes an air embargo and freezes Taliban assets in an attempt to force them to hand over bin Laden for trial.

2000

Record cold, drought, and civil war push an estimated 200,000 more Afghans into refugee camps.


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