In its broadest sense, mujahideen is plural form for mujāhid – an Arabic term that broadly refers to people who engage in jihad, which stands for the fight on behalf of Islam or the Muslim community against non-muslims.

The Mujahideen were a loosely organized band of rebels fighting against the Soviet-backed communist government of Nur Muhammad Taraki from 1978 to 1989 in the Afghan-Soviet War. These rebels included ethnic nationalists, liberals, and right-wing Islamists. The Taliban as it is known today eventually formed from various Mujahideen veterans.

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