Taliban fighters took Kabul on Sunday evening, wandering through the halls of the abandoned presidential palace, the group issued a statement: It would soon revive Afghanistan’s former name.
The country that was built in the wake of the 2001 U.S. invasion would revert to the “Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.” That’s the name the country bore between 1996 and 2001.
The last time the Taliban ruled Afghanistan, the regime concentrated power within a tight circle of former rebels who had helped to oust the Soviets in the 1980s. That group had emerged from the country’s civil war of the 1990s, promising a government guided by a strict interpretation of sharia law. Their execution of that vision led to a profoundly violent, repressive, and unstable nation that welcomed transnational terrorists and became a global pariah.
The first emirate was launched in 1996, shortly after the Taliban arrived in Kabul. In late September of that year, fighters tortured and killed former president Najibullah and then hanged his body from a traffic post. Within a month, the Taliban dispatched squads of “morality police” from an agency known as the Promotion of Virtue and Elimination of Vice.
Men were forced to grow beards. Women were forced to wear burqas, flowing garments that cover the entire face and body. Schools for girls were shuttered. Women who were unaccompanied in public places could be beaten. Soccer was banned. So was music, aside from religious chants. The Taliban government-held public executions in Kabul’s Ghazi Stadium.
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