Taliban Timeline

Key dates in the history of the Taliban.
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Date Event

Soviet Union invades Afghanistan.


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


Soviet troops withdraw.


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


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

Sept. 1994

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

Sept. 1996

The Taliban seize control of Kabul and implement a strict interpretation of Islamic law. They exile President Rabbani and execute Najibullah.


The Taliban offer Osama bin Ladenrefuge.

Sept- Oct. 1997

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.


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

Sept. 13, 1998

The Taliban take over the city of Bamian.

March 1999

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.

Oct. 1999

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.

Nov. 1999

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


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

Jan. 2001

The UN adds an arms embargo against the Taliban.

March 12, 2001

Ignoring an international outcry, the Taliban blow up two 2,000-year-old Buddhist statues in the cliffs above Bamian.

May 2001

Religious minorities are ordered to wear tags identifying them as non-Muslims; Hindu women are required to veil themselves like other Afghan women.

July 2001

Taliban bans the use of the Internet, playing cards, computer discs, movies, satellite TV, musical instruments, and chessboards, after declaring them against Islamic law.

August 2001

Eight Christian foreign-aid workers are arrested for proselytizing. Two are American citizens.

Sept. 9, 2001

Northern Alliance Commander Ahmed Shah Massoud is wounded in a suicide bombing, allegedly by al-Qaeda operatives. Massoud dies from his wounds several days later.

Sept. 11, 2001

Terrorist attack on World Trade Center and Pentagon.

Sept. 2001
  • Fearing U.S. reprisals, Afghans begin fleeing Kabul. Within a week, more than 4,000 people a day try to cross into Pakistan.
  • U.S. demands that the Taliban hand over bin Laden and al-Qaeda members.
  • The Taliban offers to turn over bin Laden if presented with evidence of his guilt. They also suggest that they will allow him to be tried by Muslim clerics.
  • Saudi Arabia and the UAE cut off diplomatic ties. Pakistan pulls diplomats from Afghanistan but maintains ties.
  • U.N. and Red Cross aid efforts are halted.
Sept. 16, 2001

Pakistan's president, General Musharraf, pledges support for U.S. efforts to arrest bin Laden and appeals to his nation for support. Taliban supporters mount demonstrations.

Sept. 24, 2001

The Taliban calls for a jihad against America if U.S. forces enter Afghanistan.

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