1996 Taliban Captures Afghanistan

Public Hanging

At the end of September the Talibans captured Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan. The Taliban originated from a group of students studying at a fundamentalist Islamic school, In a period of two years, the insurgents took control of two-thirds of Afghanistan. Their advance was nearly unopposed. Many welcomed the Talibans, as they brought the first stabilty to Afghanistan since the Soviet invasion of 1979. However, the Talibans instituted strict Islamic law in all areas that they controlled and were ruthless to their opponents. Seen in this picture is the public hanging of the former President of Afghanistan, Najibullah, and his brother who had been living in the UN compound in Kabul. .


    The Taliban, a fundamentalist Islamist group, emerged in the early 1990s during the Afghan Civil War. It was composed mainly of Afghan mujahideen, particularly the Pashtuns, who had been educated in Pakistani religious schools, or madrasas. They initially promised peace and security to regions of Afghanistan that had been devastated by years of civil war.

    The Taliban began its major offensive in 1994 and by 1996 had captured the Afghan capital, Kabul, ousting the ruling government of President Burhanuddin Rabbani and his defense minister Ahmad Shah Massoud. This marked a significant point in the Taliban's consolidation of power in Afghanistan.

    The Taliban instituted a strict form of Sharia law, implementing harsh punishments and restricting women's rights severely. Women were barred from working, girls were forbidden from attending school, and public executions and amputations were carried out as punishments. The Taliban also banned television, music, and cinema, and disallowed kite flying and keeping birds as pets.

    In addition, the Taliban were internationally condemned for their destruction of Afghanistan's cultural heritage. The most notable instance of this was their destruction of the Buddhas of Bamiyan in 2001, monumental statues dating back to the 6th century.

    Despite their brutal regime, the Taliban did succeed in nearly eradicating opium production by 2001 (though it has since rebounded). However, they also sheltered Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda, which led to the U.S. invasion in October 2001 following the September 11th attacks.