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The Taliban, alternative spelling Taleban, is an Islamic fundamentalist political movement in Afghanistan. It spread into Afghanistan and formed a government, ruling as the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan from September 1996 until December 2001, with Kandahar as the capital. However, it gained diplomatic recognition from only three states: Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. Mohammed Omar has been serving as the spiritual leader of the Taliban since 1994. While in power, it enforced its strict interpretation of Sharia law, and leading Muslims have been highly critical of the Taliban's interpretations of Islamic law. The Taliban were condemned internationally for their brutal treatment of women. The majority of the Taliban are made up of Pashtun tribesmen. The Taliban's leaders were influenced by Deobandi fundamentalism, and many also strictly follow the social and cultural norm called Pashtunwali. From 1995-2001, the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence and military are widely alleged by the international community to have provided support to the Taliban. Their connections are possibly through Harkat-ul-Mujahideen, a terrorist group founded by Sami ul Haq. Pakistan has been accused by many international officials of continuing to support the Taliban today, but Pakistan claims to have dropped all support for the group since 9/11. Al Qaeda also supported the Taliban with regiments of imported fighters from Arab countries and Central Asia. Saudi Arabia provided financial support. The Taliban and their allies committed massacres against Afghan civilians, denied UN food supplies to 160,000 starving civilians and conducted a policy of scorched earth, burning vast areas of fertile land and destroying tens of thousands of homes during their rule from 1996-2001. Hundreds of thousands of people were forced to flee to United Front-controlled territory, Pakistan, and Iran. (via Freebase)