From a NATO perspective, the Cold War has given way to the War on Terror (Baylis & Smith 2005). Today, developed countries fear terrorist attacks from Islamic fundamentalists, while many in the Middle East fear amoral, mindless consumerism and even bellicose, forcible takeovers spawned from developed countries.
A phenomenon emerged from Afghanistan appeared on the world stage in the mid 1990s introducing yet another new term (like fatwa a few decades back) to world journalism: Taliban (Brenda and James 2004, pg. 1). The word itself comes from talib, or student in Arabic, but in the West it took on the connotation of an extremist, fundamentalist, violent transnational terrorist group of young Muslim fanatics.
They were initially a response against the local criminals in Afghanistan after the extraction of Soviet troops and the conquest of American-and-Pakistani-supported mujahedeens over the Soviet-supported Afghani administration in Kabul in 1992 (Ahmad 2006). It was formed by a small number of Islamic priests who belonged to Pakhtuns, the dominant ethnic group both of Southern Afghanistan and Northern Pakistan. Based in Kandahar in South-Western Afghanistan, the Taliban increased critical support from Pakistan's influential intelligences, whose incentive was in part to stabilize the trucking routes to Central Asia. With that assistance, the Taliban transformed some early Robin Hood-like actions in opposition to the warlords into a messianic goal to transform all Afghanistan in line with a particularly fundamentalist Islamic vision.
The Taliban were a major force in Afghan politics. There were neither tribal chiefs nor members of the royal families who once held sway. Mostly belonging to one ethnic group, male and young, narrowly minded trained in Pakistan's religious seminaries and burning with a desire to impose southern towns of Afghanistan before capturing Kabul in the late 1990s and established a harsh and uneasy control over most of the countries (Brenda and James 2004). As they were predominantly Pukhtun in their ethnic background and they tended to target non-Pukhtuns the latter remained rebellious especially in Northern areas.
The official orders of the Taliban against women - they should be covered in public, immediately return to their homes and leave their jobs - and the total banning of television convinced the world that here was a primitive form of Islamic fundamentalism which the Iranian variety appear benign (Brenda and James 2004, pg. 134). It sent shivers down the spine of the rich elite in neighbouring Pakistan in case the Taliban germs spread south (pg. 135).
By the late 1990s although the killings continued Afghanistan had an uneasy truce punctuated by acts of violence and anarchy. But a civil society and government structure were still far from forming. Relations with outsiders remained prickly. There was a constant friction with United Nations agencies as the Taliban, with little idea of modern statehood, interfered with their running until many packed up and left Kabul in exasperation (pg. 138).
The moment that the Twin Towers in New York fell, Islam and terrorism became inextricably linked. As an example, there was the sensationalized reporting of the aid worker John McClintock, a convert to Islam, as the 'Tartan