There is no evidence that suggests that the CIA founded the Taliban. The militant group was initiated by Afghan mujahideen in the early 1990s.
According to a report by the Council of Foreign Relations, the Taliban was founded in the early 1990s by Afghan mujahideen, who fought against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan (1979–89) with the help of the CIA and Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate (ISI). Later, they were joined by Pashtun tribesmen who studied in Pakistani madrassas. Taliban means "students" in the Pashto language. Mullah Muhammad Umar was the group's first leader.
The Pashtun movement mainly was paid for by money from Saudi Arabia - which preached a hardline form of Sunni Islam, BBC reported.
According to the U.S. State Department's Defense Technical Information Center, the U.S. provided about $3 billion in economic and covert military support to the Afghan Mujahedin from 1980 until the end of the Soviet occupation in 1989." However, following the Soviet pull-out, the U.S. significantly reduced covert funding and assistance to Afghanistan.
According to a report by the Associated Press, in the 1980s, the CIA's covert Operation Cyclone channeled money and weapons for the war through Pakistani dictator Mohammed Zia-ul Haq. Haq had called on Muslim countries to send volunteers in Afghanistan to fight. Osama Bin Laden was among the thousands to volunteer.
In 1983, Former U.S. President Ronald Reagan welcomed Afghan fighters to the White House, and mujahideen leader Yunus Khalis visited the Oval Office in 1987, NPR reported. According to the report, in 1986, the CIA supplied Stinger antiaircraft missiles to the mujahideen and allowed them to shoot down Soviet helicopter gunships.
According to the UN monitoring group, the Taliban primarily earned revenue through criminal activities, like extortion of local businesses, opium poppy cultivation, drug trafficking, and kidnapping. Their annual income has been estimated between $300 million to $1.6 billion. Despite strict UN sanctions, the Taliban also receive funds through illicit mining and donations from abroad.
Although the CIA helped the Taliban fight against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, there is no evidence that the CIA founded the Taliban. Thus, the claim is false.