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Need to Know: Telling Apart the Taliban and al-Qaeda

Our news tends to report stories in a simple binary: good guys versus bad guys. And sometimes those cast as "bad guys" become interchangeable. Not to sound too Rudy Giuliani about the whole thing, but since September 11, we've had a pretty steady stream of appearances in the media by the Taliban, and al-Qaeda. Whenever they appear, the story is usually bad, so it's understandable that the distinction between the two might be blurry. Let's shake it out.

To meet these groups,


The Taliban: A religious-based group who came to power during civil war and ruled in Afghanistan from 1996-2001. It was removed from power following the events of September 11. This authoritarian government's goal was to create the world's most pure Islamic state. They strictly interpreted Islamic law and forbade, among other things, television, music, and the Internet. Under the Taliban, women wore burqas and most of their freedom was eradicated, including the ability to attend school. Some Afghanis tolerated the harsh rule of the Taliban, as its focus was on the punishment of Islamic trespasses and restoring order to a chaotic country.

al-Qaeda: This Islamic militant organization seeks to end foreign influence in Muslim countries, "to kill US citizens — civilian or military — and their allies everywhere," and create a perfect Islamic form of government in the Muslim world. Internationally branded a terrorist organization by many, including the UN Security Council, and the US Department of State, al-Qaeda is known for suicide attacks and coordinated bombings. The Taliban and al-Qaeda are sometimes mentioned together because of their similar goals of a pure Islam, and because the Taliban gave safe harbor for al-Qaeda for training camps and granted it legitimacy as part of their ministry of defense.


Join The Conversation
almostloli almostloli 9 years
great topic anyway reading about them made me shiver i didn't dare to click other links provided in the topic
emmebeth emmebeth 9 years
Great topic! I think its important for people to know that not ALL Islamic culture is what these two groups make it out to be.
sarah_bellum sarah_bellum 9 years
Uh, only the ones who use terrorism. We don't call Russia, France, or Venezuela terrorists.
brittanyk brittanyk 9 years
Thank you for pointing out that the Taliban and al-Qaeda are two seperate groups. I think a lot of times people tend to think of them as one group or that they're interchangeable. Good job!
Princesskitty22 Princesskitty22 9 years
:rotfl: "Not to sound too Rudy Giuliani about the whole thing" :rotfl: Citzen, you're hilarious. I love it.
What does it matter? Don't we just label everyone that doesn't agree with us "terrorists" anyway?
leeluvfashion leeluvfashion 9 years
Wonderful post.
freegracefrom freegracefrom 9 years
Thank you for the topic! The media really does tend to blur the two into one... I actually wasn't entirely clear myself on what the difference was, if there was a difference. But I understand now. :smile:
great-escape great-escape 9 years
thanks for distinguishing between the two- it is easy to get confused!
girlgreen girlgreen 9 years
thanks for the info ;)
omilawd omilawd 9 years
YESSS, I hate when I'm trying to discuss something with someone and they mix up the Taliban and al-Qaeda or Sunni and Shiite. It makes me not even want to listen to what they're saying, because, what other facts are they misunderstanding?
juju4 juju4 9 years
This is great. I think a LOT of people use these terms without understanding their meaning.
CupcakeGal10 CupcakeGal10 9 years
So excited to see it. Thanks for all of your great work!
starofsorrow starofsorrow 9 years
Thanks, Citizen!!! I've always wanted to know why the media kept putting Taliban and al-Qaeda together!
CitizenSugar CitizenSugar 9 years
You got it CupcakeGal10! We have one in the works right now!
CupcakeGal10 CupcakeGal10 9 years
Citizen, this is great. I wish there were more articles like this since, as you said, the media tends to simplify these issues and groups. I think another great one to do would be the difference between Sunnis and Shiites. Lots of people are unaware of the distinctions between the two groups, politicians included!
amybdk amybdk 9 years
Thanks for clearing this up - much appreciated!
nyaradzom2001 nyaradzom2001 9 years
Two sides of the same damn coin both are extreme in their methods and beliefs and in essence extremely dangerous.
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