The Mujahideen: مقاتلون من أجل الحرية: Freedom Fighters

This is a picture of Afghani rebels, also known as Mujahideen. They are preparing to fight the Soviets. After the war with the Soviets, the Mujahideen split off into different groups, fighting against each other.

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The Soviet president Brezhnev, feared that the communist regime might be defeated and that this would damage Soviet prestige worldwide. They were afraid that the adjacent Muslim areas of the USSR would be destabilized. There was opposition to the changes the regime was bringing, which started armed resistance. Moscow supplied weapons and officials who took unofficial command of the Afghan armed forces. The soviets sought to remove Hafizullah Amin, whom they blamed for making the Afghan people go into rebellion. The Soviet army seized control of Kabul, and killing Amin, set Babrak Karmal as President. Moscow claimed its army had been officially invited into Afghanistan. Karmal ran the government for a time before Moscow replaced him in 1986 with Mohammed Najibullah. (JK)

The Afghan Civil War started in 1978 after the Soviet War in Afghanistan. After the Soviets pulled out of Afghanistan, the Mujahideen fought against the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan. Abdul Rashid Dostum, a general, switched sides to the Mujahideen which caused the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan to fall. The Mujahideen took over the city of Kabul. The Mujahideen started to fight against each other for power over the city. They split into groups making alliances and fighting. In 1994, General Abdul Rashid Dostum changed his alliance to a group called Hezb-e Islami. This group was then was forced to leave the city. Later in 1994, the Taliban began to move through southern Afghanistan. In early 1995, the Taliban controlled most of Afghanistan south of Kabul forcing Hezb-e Islami to leave their positions. Unable to take Kabul at first, the Taliban was able to come in from the North and win Kabul. (ER)

The word "Taliban" comes from the Arabic word "taleb", which means student. They are Sunni Muslims, mostly from Pashtun tribes. They want to establish a puritanical government, with no diverging from their own form of Islam. The Taliban emerged during the Afghan civil war and by the time their last troops withdrew, in February 1989, they left the country a mess and 1.5 million dead. This left thousands of Afghan orphans, so they went to school in Pakistan's madrasses. These were religious schools that were financed and encouraged by Pakistani and Saudi authorities to develop militantly inclined Islamists. Pakistan used the madrasses as a way to control the country of Afghanistan. The kids were raised to fight a "holy war" and did so because they knew nothing more than the bombings, death, and destruction they faced in their country every day. (JK)

The United States CIA contributed significantly to the Mujahideen by providing them with three to twenty billion dollars in aid. This assisted finance is one of the CIA's longest and most expensive covert operations because both Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan administered it. This money first came in 1980 in the form of training soldiers with new weapons that were also given such as the Stinger missiles and antiaircraft. Reagan believed the Mujahideen to be "freedom fighters" and the U.S. support transpired into the Reagan Doctrine which included the support of anti-Soviet movements. However, this was all a part of a larger strategy to trap the Soviets in Afghanistan and "induce a Soviet military intervention." The objective was to give the Soviets their own Vietnam War, or drain their own resources, so that their empire would collapse. Ironically, a recipient of the U.S. aid is the leader of the Al-Qaeda, Osama bin Laden. (HV)

In 1979, Osama joined the Abdullah Azzam in the fight against the Soviet Union invasion of Afghanistan. He channeled Muslim fighters, arms, and money into the Afghan war with Azzam in 1984. Osama is extremely wealthy so he provided services for jihad fighters and also started a camp where he and other Islamic volunteers from around the world fought the Soviets. This camp created in the mid 1980's was known as Maktab al-Khidimat and contained four thousand volunteers from his own country. The Islamic schools in Pakistan that were created by the Mujahideen for Afghan refugees were transformed into training centers for the Taliban. Osama called these camps Al-Qaeda which is Arabic for "the base." Chaos arose from the Mujahideen factions when the Soviets withdrew in 1989, and in reaction, the Taliban emerged and controlled Afghanistan. (HV)

In The Kite Runner, the Mujahideen are mentioned when Rahim Khan is telling Amir what happened in Kabul since he left. When Amir came to Afghanistan after Rahim Khan sent him the letter, Kabul had changed a lot. Rahim Khan explained to Amir that Hassan had come to live with him along with his wife and his son Sohrab. After Sanaubar died, Rahim Khan said the Shorawi had been defeated and had been out of Afghanistan for a while. After they had left, Kabul was in the Massoud, Rabbani, and Mujahideen's possession. Rahim Khan said that they started to fight amongst themselves and the fighting was fierce. It was dangerous for everyone in Kabul at the time. Throughout this time, Hassan would take Sohrab to places and teach him to read, write, and run kites. In 1996, the Taliban took over Kabul and wiped out the Mujahideen in the city. Rahim Khan had celebrated the Mujahideen's absence, but Hassan knew the Hazaras were in trouble. (ER)

Sources and Links:
Hosseini, Khaled. The Kite Runner. New York: Riverhead, 2003