Has the Taliban of today changed at all from the Taliban that ruled most of Afghanistan in the period of 1996-2001? What is the extent of ideological difference between the Taliban and the Islamic State? These are common questions that have arisen in light of the Taliban's takeover of Afghanistan. As it happens, an article in a recent issue of the Taliban's Arabic-language magazine 'al-Sumud' addresses these matters, in an article entitled 'Between the Taliban of today and the Taliban of yesterday: what is it that has changed?' To preface, I thank Aaron Zelin for suggesting that I translate this article.
The article is primarily aimed as a response to the Islamic State and its supporters who declare takfir on the Taliban (i.e. proclaim it to be a group of disbelievers/apostates), seemingly supposing a difference between the 'Taliban of today' and the Taliban of yesterday.' The current Taliban, supposedly, has deviated and made compromises, and is contrasted in this reading with the Taliban when it was led by Mullah Muhammad Omar and was commended by the likes of Abu Mus'ab al-Zarqawi and Abu Muhammad al-Adnani, the latter of whom praised the group in a speech in 2011.
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