Afghanistan: The Rise of the Taliban : Throughline How did a small group of Islamic students go from local vigilantes to one of the most infamous and enigmatic forces in the world? The Taliban is a name that has haunted the American imagination since 2001. The scenes of the group's brutality repeatedly played in the Western media, while true, perhaps obscure our ability to see the complex origins of the Taliban and how they impact the lives of Afghans. It's a shadow that reaches across the vast ancient Afghan homeland, the reputation of the modern state, and throughout global politics. At the end of the US war in Afghanistan we go back to the end of the Soviet Occupation and the start of the Afghan civil war to look at the rise of the Taliban. Their story concludes Throughline's two-episode investigation on the past, present, and future of the country that was once called "the center of the world."

Afghanistan: The Rise of the Taliban

Afghanistan: The Rise of the Taliban

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Isabel Seliger
Isabel Seliger
Isabel Seliger

This episode is the second part in a series about Afghanistan, focused on the country and its people. It was first released at the 20th anniversary of 9/11 and the withdrawal of U.S. troops. The series won a Peabody Award in June 2022.

Listen to Throughline on Apple Podcasts or Spotify, and check out Part 1 and Part 3 of our reporting.

How did a small group of Islamic students go from local vigilantes to one of the most infamous and enigmatic forces in the world? The Taliban is a name that has haunted the American imagination since 2001. The scenes of the group's brutality repeatedly played in the Western media, while true, perhaps obscure our ability to see the complex origins of the Taliban and how they impact the lives of Afghans. It's a shadow that reaches across the vast ancient Afghan homeland, the reputation of the modern state, and throughout global politics. At the end of the US war in Afghanistan we go back to the end of the Soviet Occupation and the start of the Afghan civil war to look at the rise of the Taliban. Their story concludes Throughline's two-episode investigation on the past, present, and future of the country that was once called "the center of the world.


If you would like to read more about the Taliban's rise to power: