Image: Taliban fighters patrol the streets of Kabul on August 23. Wakil Kohsar/AFP via Getty Images
The biggest question since the Taliban recaptured Kabul on August 15 has been whether the group’s return to power means the same thing for Afghans that it did 25 years ago.
The last time the Taliban controlled all of Afghanistan, from 1996 to 2001, was marked by brutal oppression, particularly of minorities and women. Their proclivity for violence, which continued throughout their post-9/11 resurgence as an insurgent force, has resulted in civilian massacres, human trafficking, and an environment dictated by fear.
But since announcing the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, the group’s leaders have downplayed that history, saying they have evolved with the times.