Who are the Taliban and what do they want? 5 key points

While Pakistani and Afghan insurgents often get labeled as the 'Taliban,' in reality there are several groups that often act independently and have distinct command structures, ideologies, and strategies.

What they want

Al Qaeda and groups linked to it call for global jihad, including attacks on Western cities and on US forces worldwide. But Mullah Omar's Taliban has adopted the rhetoric of a national liberation struggle, to oust foreign forces and restore Islamic rule. According to Waliullah Rahmani of the Kabul Center for Strategic Studies, the Taliban is trying to rebrand itself by referring to its fighters as the mujahideen, conjuring images of the struggle against the Soviets in the 1980s.

"Such differences cause natural tensions between the Taliban and Al Qaeda," said one intelligence officer with NATO. "Al Qaeda has not been able to hijack the insurgency the way it did in Iraq."

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Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

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