One day in the early 1990s, two young girls were walking to school in a village outside Kandahar, Afghanistan, when they were kidnapped by a warlord. The warlord took the girls back to his camp and raped them.
Furious villagers went to a local schoolteacher for help. The schoolteacher galvanized his students, found the girls, and killed their captors. His name was Mullah Mohammed Omar Mujahid, and he would go on to become the leader of the Taliban. That is the origin story of the Taliban's first figurehead, as Michael Rubin, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, told Refinery29.
The Taliban is a staunchly conservative Muslim group that believes in unification under Islam above all else. Even following the United States going to war with the Taliban after the 9/11 attacks, the White House today does not recognize the Taliban as a terrorist group but one that "performs tactics akin to terrorism."
One such "akin to terrorism" act took place in 2012, when the Taliban shot a 14-year-old advocate for girls' education named Malala Yousafzai
while she rode a school bus. A year later, Mullah Omar, who led the group at the time of the shooting, died in a Pakistani hospital. But the news of his death had not been widely known until this week; Taliban leaders confirmed it on Friday