One of the most widely recognized images of the present day is that of airplanes hitting the World Trade Center on 11 September 2001. The terrorist organization Al-Qaeda and its host, the Taliban in Afghanistan, became household names all over the world on that fateful day. The media started churning out stories about the brutalities of the Taliban, and the world discovered a new monster. The Taliban did not grow out of the dark overnight, nor was it unknown in the Middle East, the region of the world most severely affected after 9/11. Following its emergence in 1994 from madrassas, the Taliban achieved surprising victories over its enemies and assumed rule over much of Afghanistan. Simultaneously hailed as saviors and feared as oppressors, the Taliban were an almost mythical phenomenon that seemed to embody the very essence of Afghan cultural beliefs, especially revenge for transgression, hospitality for enemies, and readiness to die for honor. The Taliban knew the Afghan people and their ways and embedded themselves in the complex Afghan web of tribalism, religion, and ethnicity.