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bellusfemina's avatar

What is the difference between the Taliban and Al Qaeda?

Asked by bellusfemina (808points) February 16th, 2010

As far as their religion, agendas, location etc…..anything. What makes them different?

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22 Answers

jfos's avatar

I’m not an expert, but to my knowledge both groups primarily follow Islam, and would therefore be Muslims (Sunni). Taliban is located on the border of Afghanistan and Pakistan. Afghanistan was governed by Taliban from 1996–2001. Taliban could be defined as a political movement, whereas Al Qaeda could be defined as a fundamentalist group calling for jihad.

mammal's avatar

Are you wondering which organisation to join?

marinelife's avatar

From the wiki

“The Taliban (Pashto: طالبان ṭālibān, meaning “students”), also Taleban, is a Sunni Islamist political movement that governed Afghanistan from 1996 until they were overthrown in late 2001 during Operation Enduring Freedom. It has regrouped since 2004 and revived as a strong insurgency movement governing at the local level and fighting a guerrilla war against the governments of Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).[4] The movement is made up of members belonging to different ethnic Pashtun tribes,[5] along with a number of volunteers from nearby Islamic countries such as Uzbeks, Tajiks, Chechens, Arabs, Punjabis and others.[6][7][8] They operate in Afghanistan and Pakistan, mostly around the Durand Line regions. U.S. officials say their headquarters is in or around Quetta, Pakistan, and that Pakistan and Iran are supporting them[9][10][11][12], although both nations deny it.[13][14]”

From the wiki

“Al-Qaeda (pronounced /ælˈkaɪdə/ al-KYE-də or /ælˈkeɪdə/ al-KAY-də; Arabic: القاعدة‎, al-qāʿidah, “the base”), alternatively spelled Al-Qaida and sometimes Al-Qa’ida, is an Islamist group founded sometime between August 1988[5] and late 1989/early 1990.[6] It operates as a network comprising both a multinational, stateless arm[7] and a fundamentalist Sunni movement calling for global jihad.”

“The origins of al-Qaeda as a network inspiring terrorism around the world and training operatives can be traced to the Soviet war in Afghanistan[32] (December 1979 – February 1989). The United States viewed the conflict in Afghanistan, with the Afghan Marxists and allied Soviet troops on one side and the native Afghan mujahideen on the other, as a blatant case of Soviet expansionism and aggression. The U.S. channelled funds through Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency to the native Afghan mujahideen fighting the Soviet occupation in a CIA program called Operation Cyclone.[33][34]

At the same time, a growing number of Arab mujahideen joined the jihad against the Afghan Marxist regime, facilitated by international Muslim organizations, particularly the Maktab al-Khidamat,[35] whose funds came from some of the $600 million a year donated to the jihad by the Saudi Arabia government and individual Muslims – particularly independent Saudi businessmen who were approached by Osama bin Laden.”

ucme's avatar

The devil & the deep blue sea.

susanc's avatar

Thanks, @marinelife .
So – essentially Al-Qaeda is an arm of the Saudi ruling class/government (same thing; it’s a monarchy). Interesting that we never approached the Saudis in a combative manner after 9/11 – in fact if you remember, Bush allowed only one or two planes to fly on 9/12, both of them flying Saudis, shopping in NYC, back home before anyone knew what to do.
The Bush family and the Saudi royal family have been close friends since GHWB’s presidency, or more probably since his days in the CIA – GWB was on TV holding hands with Saudi princes visiting him in Crawford during the Iraq war, etc. (Btw, men holding hands is normal polite behavior in Saudi culture; Bush was culturally correct. But considering the oil connections of these two great oil families, you could say GWB was metaphorically “in bed with” any Saudi prince you might like to name…).

ETpro's avatar

Some great answers here, but the salient difference in response to your direct question is the intent of each group. The Taliban want to set up Sharia Law (fundamentalist Islamic religious law) in Pashtun areas (Western Pakistan and Afghanistan). The Pashtun are the largest ethnic group in Afghanistan, they are fiercely independent, and they ruled Afghanistan successfully for 300 years till toppled by the Soviet Invasion. Their goal is to retake control of their lands. Their independence and numbers are what have convinced the US and NATO that to subdue the Afghan insurgency, they are going to have to deal with the Pashtuns and give them some role in governing Afghanistan.

The only reason we had any problems with the Taliban running Afghanistan as they saw fit was that they saw fit to give safe haven to al-Qaida and al-Qaida saw fit to attack us on numerous occasions, the most notable being 9/11.

Al-Qaida is a terrorist organization that follows many of the religions precepts of the Taliban. The original founders are mostly Saudis but the group has its roots in an extreme fundamentalist branch of the Sunni Muslim faith called Wahhabism, a Muslim reform movement that began about 200 years ago. Their immediate goal is to rid the entire Middle East of us “infidels” whose very footsteps on their sacred sand fouls the land and is an offense, in their eyes, to Allah. They want the absolute destruction of Israel and the establishment of an Islamic Caliphate under Sharia Law stretching from the Middle East across all of Eastern and eventually Western Europe.

Given their view that “infidels” must either convert to Islam or be killed, there is no reason to assume that they would stop once Europe fell into their hands. It makes sense to assume they would want to push on till they control the entire world and eliminate all “otherness” from it. So they are not that different from our own religious bigots, just better armed and organized to carry out their war for oneness.

dannyc's avatar

Taliban is a real enemy with a tangible locale. Al Queda is its underlying power whose locale is unknown, and hence instills tangible fear.

marinelife's avatar

@susanc Yes, you are right about the U.S. being basically mum on the Saudi connection to Al Quaeda. It continues to this day.

galileogirl's avatar

No @susanc , Al Qaeda is no more an arm of the Saudi govt than the IRA is an arm of the US govt or the Mafia is an arm of the Sicilian govt. Osama bin Laden the putative leader and many of it’s members were hailed as freedom fighters by the American administration in the 1980’s Afghan revolution. When the Afghani religious extremists known as the Taliban won that war, they allowed the foreigners, some of whom are Saudi by birth to remain under their protection.

This group with members from all over the Muslim world were allowed to recruit and train both in Pakistan and Afghanistan. In Pakistan it was more of the govt having a tiger by the tail in that if the govt tried to stop Al Qaeda, the govt would be destroyed. The Taliban members agreed with the Al Qaeda philosophy of revolution throughout the Muslim world so they provided a safe haven until we overthrew the Taliban, at which time Al Qaeda had to retreat to the mountains.

In the early 90’s bin Laden spent time in the Sudan and made trouble for the US when we tried to police a rebellion there. The Saudi govt signed on to the Oslo Accords which repudiated bin Laden’s activities. Bin Laden threatened the Saudi king who revoked his citizenship, froze his assets in Saudi banks and his family publicly disowned him. The Laden family and the Saud royal family are not religious extremists, they are businessmen and pragmatists who know they gain nothing from terrorism.

They ended up being kicked out of Sudan and after 9/11 they are finding it harder to recruit in most countries so their emphasis seems to be on making big events that make them even more marginalized. At the present time they are recruiting in Africa and Yemen and we can see him losing face even there. The people they are trying to reach are being closely monitored like the underwear bomber whose own father tried to turn him in.

However, while bin Laden’s and Al Qaeda’s days are numbered, other fanatical hate groups are forming. They may be religious zealots, they may be scared right wing xenophobes, they may be criminal racketeers, they may be political iconoclasts. They have always been with us but they can’t destroy us. It will take fear, panic and mindless overreaction to accomplish that.

filmfann's avatar

Think 1920’s Chicago.
The Taliban is the crooked political machine, and the government at the time.
Al Queda is the Mafia.

mammal's avatar

@filmfann Think 1920’s Chicago.The Taliban is the crooked political machine, and the government at the time. Al Quaeda is the Mafia. Close, Think 1920’s Chicago, the mafia and the government have an interesting arrangement of co-existence, frequently, symbiotic, now imagine the Taliban as the Untouchables, Brutal but effective.

Sophief's avatar

Not much!

ucme's avatar

@filmfann Al mushtarak sheba Capone.

filmfann's avatar

@mammal are you saying that the Taliban opposes Al Quaeda?

mammal's avatar

@filmfann i am saying that the Taliban came into favour as a political group that addressed the endemic corruption of the previous regime….not to mention the existing regime. The Taliban have sympathies with Al Quaeda but are a different entity, they may have allowed for the formation of training camps et cetera on territory from which Al Quaeda could operate, in a similar way to the American policy of allowing extremest right wing Cuban exiles resources and assets from which to attack Cuban targets both military and civil…

ETpro's avatar

@mammal Id stop way short of equating the Taliban’s offering safe haven to al-Qaida and the USA sheltering Cuban refugees. As far as I know, no Cuban contingent has hijacked a bunch of airliners and flown them into civilian buildings in Havana killing thousands of innocent Cuban citizens. If we allowed that to happen, the whole world would rise up in condemnation of us, and rightly so.

The Taliban knew that al-Qaida carried out the 9/11 attack, and the steadfastly refused to hand over the guilty parties or even deny them safe haven AFTER the attack that killed nearly 3,000 innocent men, women and children.

jfos's avatar

@ETpro In 2000 the Taliban leader put a ban on Opium that reduced production by 91% of the previous year’s output. In late 2001 USA invaded Afghanistan and began an occupation there. In 2004 Hamid Karzai was sworn in as president of Afghanistan. In the years after, Opium production in Afghanistan reached unprecedented high levels.

“We” allowed that to happen, and the “whole world [did not] rise up in condemnation of us.” So why do you think that @mammal‘s example is so far-fetched?

ETpro's avatar

@jfos I do not think that opium production and killing 3,000 innocent people are the same thing. I do not think that the US harbored terrorists who went on to kill 3,000 innocent civilians in Cuba. Hate the USA if you wish. We’ve done plenty of things wrong and will continue to do so, I am sure. But that doesn’t make it true that our acceptance of Cuban refugees makes us just like the Taliban affording safe haven to the planners of 9/11.

jfos's avatar

1) I don’t hate the USA, I’m just in the habit of judging for myself the goodness (or badness) of its actions.

2) No, we did not “harbor the terrorists who went on to kill 3,000 innocent civilians in Cuba,” but we housed and trained the ones who did in New York City. And it’s not right to be at fault (if anyone is), yet blame the Taliban for harboring terrorists afterwards. This may be a bit of a stretch, but for lack of a better analogy, it’s like buying dog food at the store and feeding it to your dog, and having your dog shit on your best piece of furniture, and then blaming the supermarket for not turning all the dog food over to you. (Not to offend anyone who may have had someone they know die during the 9/11 situation.)

3) I agree with your point that “We’ve done plenty of things wrong,” but I don’t know how you could accept that we “will continue to do so.”

ETpro's avatar

By what strange twist of logic do you conclude that the USA housed and trained the 9/11 terrorists? Judging from the tortured logic of the supermarket analogy, I am looking forward to hearing how you have this figured.

How can I live with our making mistakes? I do what I can to correct what I see. What do you recommend? Kill myself? Move to heaven where no wrong is ever done?

jfos's avatar

As per Wikipedia:
“Bin Laden provided leadership for the plot, along with financial support, and was involved in selecting participants for the plot.[97] Bin Laden initially selected Nawaf al-Hazmi and Khalid al-Mihdhar, both experienced jihadists who fought in Bosnia. Hazmi and Mihdhar arrived in the United States in mid-January 2000, after traveling to Malaysia to attend the Kuala Lumpur al-Qaeda Summit. In spring 2000, Hazmi and Mihdhar took flying lessons in San Diego, California, but both spoke little English, did not do well with flying lessons, and eventually served as “muscle” hijackers.[98][99]

In late 1999, a group of men from Hamburg, Germany arrived in Afghanistan, including Mohamed Atta, Marwan al-Shehhi, Ziad Jarrah, and Ramzi Binalshibh.[100] Bin Laden selected these men for the plot, as they were educated, could speak English, and had experience living in the west.[101] New recruits were routinely screened for special skills, which allowed Al Qaeda leaders to also identify Hani Hanjour, who already had a commercial pilot’s license, for the plot.[102]

Hanjour arrived in San Diego on December 8, 2000, joining Hazmi. They soon left for Arizona, where Hanjour took refresher training. Marwan al-Shehhi arrived at the end of May 2000, while Atta arrived on June 3, 2000, and Jarrah arrived on June 27, 2000. Binalshibh applied several times for a visa to the United States, but as a Yemeni, he was rejected out of concerns he would overstay his visa and remain as an illegal immigrant. Binalshibh remained in Hamburg, providing coordination between Atta and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. The three Hamburg cell members all took pilot training in south Florida.”

ETpro's avatar

@jfos Yes, and the point of all this is…

Allowing someone you think is just an international student to study on your soil and giving safe haven to someone are to incredibly different concepts. Do you not see the massive difference?

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