When talking about Islamist terrorism, most people immediately think of terms like Taliban and Al-Qaeda. Do the Taliban and Al-Qaeda belong together, or how do they actually differ?
Taliban – a group from Pakistan and Afghanistan
The Taliban are an Islamist group of people who originated in Afghanistan. Taliban means “student” or “seeker”. The Islamist militia occupied large parts of Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001. Diplomatically, this occupation was only recognized by Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates. The number of members of the Taliban is estimated at around 13,000 to 20,000 who only live in Afghanistan.
Even today, the Taliban are on the advance in Afghanistan and are gaining more and more land, even though American troops are present there. Despite the American invasion and the support of the NATO countries, it was not possible to destroy the influence of the Taliban in Afghanistan.
The Taliban were originally formed from graduates from religious schools who allied themselves with members of incoming mujahideen troops.
Strict adherence to Sharia law has a far-reaching impact on the lives of Pakistani residents. There are strict rules for all areas of public life, compliance with which is monitored and non-compliance is severely punished. There are regulations relating to the appearance of the individual, haircuts, beards, clothing. There is no freedom of the press, and women are subject to particularly strict regulations. They are required to wear a burqa and are largely denied access to education.
Support from the CIA
In the 1980s, the Taliban received strong support, especially from the CIA, and was equipped with modern weapons. After the Soviet Union rushed to the aid of the Afghan government at the time to fight the Taliban, the Americans also interfered indirectly in the conflict and helped to build the Taliban.
Al-Qaeda – a global terrorist network
While the Taliban only rule in Afghanistan, al-Qaeda is a globally operating, loose network of terrorists. Its members come from a wide variety of nations and they try to spread fear and terror worldwide through terrorist attacks. Most of their attacks are carried out with letters of confession. A characteristic feature of their attacks is the mass murder of civilians.
The name Al-Qaeda means “solid base” and is intended to illustrate the Islamist efforts to implement jihad, despite every international attempt to combat it.
Al-Qaeda consists of a network of overlapping cells that act autonomously. This makes infiltration by the police and secret services more difficult.
Al-Qaeda aims to establish a caliphate, an Islamist state in which Sharia prevails. Al-Qaeda assumes that Israel and the Western world have conspired against Islam and prevent it from exercising its role in the world. Furthermore, al-Qaeda does not see the victims of its terrorist attacks as civilians, but merely as enemies. All people who practice a belief other than theirs are enemies for the Islamists who must be fought.
The main difference between the Taliban and Al-Qaeda is that the Taliban only exercise their reign of terror in Pakistan and Afghanistan, while Al-Qaeda is a global terrorist network.