bARABie – Hard Hitting Facts

LOSING THE WAR IN AFGHANISTAN

CONTENTS

1. “BIN LADEN CAN RUN BUT NOT HIDE”

2. BUSH’S “CRUSADE”

3. REFUSING TO WORK WITH IRAN AGAINST THE TALIBAN

4. OBSTACLES FACED BY THE UNITED STATES IN AFGHANISTAN

5. THE INVASION OF AFGHANISTAN: LOSING THE WAR

6. THE PAUL TILLMAN SAGA

7. THE RAHMAN CASE

8. AFGHANISTAN’S INFRASTRUCTURE

9. THE ROLE OF WOMEN

10. AFGHANISTAN’S CONSTITUTION

11. OPIUM PRODUCTION

For Bush to declare “war” on Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda was actually to exaggerate their importance – and glorify their actions. Worse, it was his declaration of “war” that led in 2001 to the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan and, in 2003, to the invasion and occupation of Iraq. When Bush declared “a global war on terror”, he was really announcing a jihad of his own – a struggle to convert the whole world to American-style capitalist democracy.

Al Qaeda and its associated jihadists massacred the innocent to the cry of “Allah Akbar” (’God is Great’). Meanwhile, Bush launched “shock and awe” aerial onslaughts on Iraqi and Afghan villages and cities in the sure belief that Jesus Christ wanted him to spread democracy around the world.

1. ”BIN LADEN CAN RUN BUT NOT HIDE”

After 9/11, Bush lashed out at Osama bin Laden on several occasions: “He can run but not hide” and “We’ll smoke him out. Bush referred to al Qaeda as “thugs” and “evil-doers, those barbaric people.” He repeatedly promised “justice and punishment” and made promises of “bringing to justice.”

After allowing bin Laden to escape and after failing to capture any of his lieutenants, Bush gradually hoped the embarrassing issue would disappear. When asked about bin Laden on March 13, 2002, Bush’s tune changed. He said, “I don’t know where he is. . . I just don’t spend that much time on him really, to be honest with you. … I truly am not that concerned about him.”

2. BUSH’S CRUSADE

Bush used the word “crusade” several times in talking about how the United States would fight terrorism. His use of “crusade’ conjured up very different memories in the Islamic world — of a bloody Christian holy war against Arabs. In 1099, for instance, the Crusaders massacred many of the inhabitants of Jerusalem.

Bin Laden seized on Bush’s gaffe to rally Islamic fundamentalists. In a statement released 13 days after 9/11, Bin Laden called the coming war “the new Christian-Jewish crusade led by the big crusader Bush under the flag of the cross.” He called on Pakistan’s Muslims to fight “the American crusade.” Bin Laden wrote: “I announce to you, our beloved brothers, that we are steadfast on the path of jihad (holy war) with the heroic, faithful Afghan people, under the leadership of Mullah Mohammed Omar.”

Bush coined the Afghanistan war against on terrorism, Operation “Infinite Justice.” That immediately outraged more of the Muslim world. Islamic leaders quickly pointed out that only Allah was “infinite” and that Washington was elevating itself to that of Allah. Only Allah, according to Muslims, could decide on “infinite justice.” Eventually, the White House named the operation “Enduring Freedom.” Bush not only waged war of religion by proclaiming his war a “crusade,” but he also failed to realize what the Bible and the Koran said.

Both the Koran and the Bible portray images of a violent and vengeful God who promised life for the faithful and horrific torment for unbelievers.

The Koran:

“Those who believe fight in the cause of Allah, and those who reject faith fight in the cause of evil.”(4:76)

“So we sent against them a furious wind through days of disaster, that we might give them a taste of a penalty of humiliation. In this life; but the penalty of the hereafter will be more humiliating still: And they will find no help.” (41:16)

“Then watch thou for the day that the sky will bring forth a kind of smoke plainly visible, enveloping the people: This will be a penalty grievous.” (44:10-11)

“Did the people of the towns feel secure against the coming of our wrath by night While they were asleep? Or else did they feel secure against its coming in broad daylight while they played about. Did they then feel secure Against the Plan of Allah? — but no one can feel Secure from the Plan of Allah, except those (doomed) to ruin.” (7:97-99)

The Bible:

If you read the Bible as literally true, as do fundamentalists, Noah’s flood was ordered by God.

Example 1:

“And God said to Noah, ‘I have determined to make an end of all flesh… behold, I will destroy them with the earth.” (6:5-l3). “I will bring a flood of waters upon the earth, to destroy all flesh in which is the breath of life from under heaven; everything that is on the earth shall die.” (6:l7-l9) Noah and his family are the only humans spared — they were, after all, God’s chosen. But for everyone else: “… the waters prevailed so mightily… that all the high mountains … were covered . … And all flesh died that moved upon the earth, birds, cattle, beasts … and every man; everything on the dry land in whose nostrils was the breath of life, died….” (Genesis 7:17-23).

God first “hardens the heart of Pharaoh” to make sure the Egyptian ruler would not be moved by the plea of Moses to let his people go. Then because Pharaoh’s heart was hardened, God turned the Nile into blood so people could not drink its water and will suffer from thirst.

Not satisfied with the results, God sent swarms of locusts and flies to torture them. Rains hail and fire and thunder destroyed the trees and plants of the field until nothing green remained. God ordered every first-born child to be slaughtered, from the first-born of Pharaoh right on down to “the first-born of the maidservant behind the mill.”

The massacre continued until “there is not a house where one was not dead.” While the Egyptian families mourned their dead, God ordered Moses to loot from their houses all their gold and silver and clothing. Finally, God’s thirst for blood was satisfied. God paused to rest and boasted: “I have made sport of the Egyptians.”

Example 2:

Women and children were hacked to death on God’s order. Unborn infants were ripped from their mother’s wombs. Cities were leveled. Women killed if they had had sex.

When his holy warriors spared the lives of 50,000 captives God was furious and sent Moses back to rebuke them and to tell them to finish the job. One tribe after another fell to God-ordered genocide: the Hittites, the Girgashites, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Perizzites, the Jebusites.

“And when the Lord your God gives them over to you, and you defeat them; then you must utterly destroy them; you shall make no covenant with them, and show no mercy to them …(and) your eyes shall not pity them.”

3. REFUSING TO WORK WITH IRAN AGAINST THE TALIBAN

As the Bush administration prepared for war in Afghanistan after 9/11, the War Room needed Iran’s help to unseat the Taliban and to establish a stable government in Kabul.

According to Flynt Leverett, senior director for Middle East affairs in the NSC, Iran had organized a resistance movement that included contacts with key figures in Afghanistan. Furthermore, Iran provided arms and funded the “Northern Alliance.” However, the Bush administration was unwilling to participate. (Inter Press Service, February 22, 2006)

In October 2001, as the United States was just beginning its military operations in Afghanistan, State Department, and NSC officials began meeting secretly with Iranian diplomats in Paris and Geneva, under the sponsorship of Lakhdar Brahimi, head of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan. Leverett said these discussions focused on “how to effectively unseat the Taliban and once the Taliban was gone, how to stand up an Afghan government. (Inter Press Service, February 22, 2006)

Primarily a result of the Northern Alliance Afghan troops, which were supported primarily by the Iranians, the Taliban was driven out of Kabul in mid-November. Two weeks later, the Afghan opposition groups were convened in Bonn under United Nations auspices to agree on a successor regime. (Inter Press Service, February 22, 2006)

At that meeting, the Northern Alliance was demanding 60 percent of the portfolios in an interim government, which was blocking agreement by other opposition groups. According to United States special envoy to Afghanistan James Dobbins, Iran played a “decisive role” in persuading the Northern Alliance delegate to compromise. Dobbins also recalled how the Iranians insisted on including language in the Bonn agreement on the war on terrorism. (Inter Press Service, February 22, 2006)

The bureaucracy recognized that there was an opportunity to work with Iran not only on stabilizing Afghanistan but on al Qaeda as well.The State Department’s policy planning staff had written a paper in late November 2001 suggesting that the United States should propose more formal arrangements for cooperation with Iran on fighting al Qaeda. (Washington Post, October 22, 2004)

That would have involved exchanging intelligence information with Tehran as well as coordinating border sweeps to capture al Qaeda fighters and leaders who were already beginning to move across the border into Pakistan and Iran. The CIA agreed with the proposal, according to the Post’s sources, as did the head of the White House Office for Combating Terrorism, General Wayne Downing. (Inter Press Service, February 22, 2006)

But the cooperation against al Qaeda was not the priority for the anti-Iranian interests in the White House and the Pentagon. Deputy National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley, who chaired an inter-agency committee on Iran policy dealing with issues surrounding Afghanistan, learned that the White House intended to include Iran as a member of the “Axis of Evil” in Bush’s State of the Union message in January. (Bob Woodward, Plan of Attack)

Hadley expressed reservations about that plan at one point, but was told by Bush directly that Iran had to stay in. By the end of December, Hadley had decided, against the recommendations of the State Department, CIA, and White House counter-terrorism office, that the United States would not share any information with Iran on al Qaeda, even though it would press the Iranians for such intelligence, as well as to turn over any al Qaeda members it captured to the appropriate home country. (Inter Press Service, February 22, 2006)

Soon after that decision, hardliners presented Iranian policy to Bush and the public as hostile to United States aims in Afghanistan and refusing to cooperate with the war on terror — the opposite of what officials directly involved had witnessed. (Inter Press Service, February 22, 2006)

Pentagon and intelligence officials said that Iran had given “safe haven” to fleeing al Qaeda fighters in order to use them against the United States in post-Taliban Afghanistan. That same day, Bush declared “Iran must be a contributor in the war against terror.” (New York Times, January 11, 2002)

Officials who were familiar with the intelligence at that point agreed that the “safe haven for al Qaeda” charge was not based on any genuine analysis by the intelligence community. (Inter Press Service, February 22, 2006)

4. OBSTACLES FACED BY THE UNITED STATES IN AFGHANISTAN

From the outset, the Bush administration had a number of obstacles to overcome in Afghanistan.

1. Tribal unrest and power struggles between warlords undermined the presence of the United States military. Most towns and the countryside were controlled by warlords who refused to capitulate to the pro-United States regime.

At the same time that the Bush administration was arming warlords, the White House was asking them to disarm. When asked to disarm, the warlords instead increased the size of their forces. Nearly two years after the American invasion, Afghan warlords returned to rule the provinces under a series of deals, often sealed with cash, between them and the Americans. And 8,500 American combat troops continue to search the mountains looking for remnants of al Qaeda. (www.bostonphoenix.com, April 18, 2003; Bob Woodward, Bush at War)

General Mohammed Fahim would not demobilize their private militias. Ismail Khan, a powerful warlord based in the western Afghan city of Herat, refused to acknowledge the central government. Former Afghan prime minister and Mujahedeen fighter Gulbuddin Hekmatyar returned to link up with Taliban remnants to target pro-American forces. CIA agents armed with suitcases of cash tried to buy the support of warlords. (www.bostonphoenix.com, April 18, 2003; Bob Woodward, Bush at War)

1. The country contained one-tenth — more than 10 million — of the world’s unexploded land mines, laid by the Soviet Red Army in 27 of 29 provinces. Even after the Soviet withdrawal, two dozen Afghans were killed every day. During the 1990s, United Nations figures indicated that more than 10,000 antitank mines, 221,000 antipersonnel mines, and 1.4 million pieces of unexploded ordnance — such as bombs and artillery shells — were removed in Afghanistan. From 1997 to 1999, donors provided about $25 million a year for clearing mines in Afghanistan. The United Nations asked contributors for $20 million in 2001 but received only $11.5 million. Because of the shortfall, mine-clearing agencies had to lay off about 300 of 4,800 staff members. Most were Afghans working in the field for about $100 a month, often supporting extended families of 30 people. (Los Angeles Times, September 27, 2001)

2. A ground invasion, as the Soviets learned in the 1980s, put the United States in an unwinnable counter-insurgency war in a hostile terrain against a people with a long history of resisting outsiders.

3. Large-scale military strikes placed the United States in violation of international law, since the use of military force was legitimate only for self-defense — not for retaliation. By contrast, a limited attack against suspected terrorists — involving small commando units, Special Forces, and SWAT team-style operations– could have broken up terrorist cells.

4. To fight international terrorism required international cooperation. The United States needed the active support of Muslim countries to track down and break up bin Laden’s terrorist cells which existed well beyond the borders of Afghanistan. The Bush administration failed to gain an adequate coalition.

While the pro-Western Egyptian and Saudi leadership never had any deep sympathy for the fundamentalist radicals, neither government had ever felt motivated to shut down its propaganda against Israel and the United States. Both Saudi Arabia and Egypt offered no more than lip-service to the United States. The Saudis refused the use of its large and sophisticated base. And Egypt — the beneficiary of $2 billion a year — refused to wholeheartedly rally itself around the American cause.

5. Afghanistan contained one-tenth — more than 10 million — of the world’s unexploded land mines, laid by the Soviet Red Army in 27 of 29 provinces. Even after the Soviet withdrawal, two dozen Afghans were killed every day. During the 1990s, United Nations figures indicated that more than 10,000 antitank mines, 221,000 antipersonnel mines, and 1.4 million pieces of unexploded ordnance — such as bombs and artillery shells — were removed in Afghanistan. From 1997 to 1999, donors provided about $25 million a year for clearing mines in Afghanistan. The United Nations asked contributors for $20 million in 2001 but received only $11.5 million. Because of the shortfall, mine-clearing agencies had to lay off about 300 of 4,800 staff members. Most were Afghans working in the field for about $100 a month, often supporting extended families of 30 people. (Los Angeles Times, September 27, 2001)

6. The winter season, beginning in November, provided another obstacle for American troops. The Pentagon had no hope of dispatching troops and winning the war in the six weeks remaining before winter arrived in Afghanistan. Nor could an invading American army count on serious assistance from the internal anti-Taliban resistance, especially after the assassination of Masoud. (Los Angeles Times, September 23, 2001)

7. The rugged mountains near the Pakistan border provided a haven for al Qaeda forces. Once Bush launched the war, most Taliban leaders were able to escape to remote mountain outposts. The deaths of civilians strengthened support for the regime and even bin Laden himself, as people under attack would tend to rally around their flag. A ground invasion, as the Soviets learned in the 1980s, put the United States in an unwinnable counter-insurgency war in a hostile terrain against a people with a long history of resisting outsiders.

5. THE INVASION OF AFGHANISTAN: LOSING THE WAR

TORA BORA WHERE 8,000 AL QAEDA AND ISI OFFICIALS ARE ALLOWED TO ESCAPE. The Pentagon never supplied General Tommy Franks with enough conventional forces to attack Tora Bora in search for bin Laden Instead, the Pentagon relied on a local Pashtun warlord, Hazrat Ali, to attack the area where bin Laden was suspected of hiding. Franks contributed a small number of Special Forces and CIA paramilitary officers that were backed by United States airpower. It was ineffective. Bin Laden escaped. And for Ali: He emerged as the strongman of Jeleabad in eastern Afghanistan. (James Risen, State of War)

American Special Forces had an ideal opportunity to kill and capture thousands of al Qaeda forces in late 2001. American forces had cornered as many as 8,000 al Qaeda soldiers and ISI (Pakistan Intelligence Agency) officials in northeast Afghanistan at Kunduz, 150 miles from the Pakistan border. Pakistani dictator Musharraf had been under intense pressure to protect himself from Islamic fundamentalists at home to protect the ISI and Pakastani forces in the field.(Seymour Hirsch of The New Yorker)

With political pressure from the Islamic community mounting against him, Musharraf was compelled to protect the 8,000-plus forces and negotiated with the Defense Department to lift the corridor which American Special Forces had sealed. The Defense Department called for a cease-fire for several days, in order for terrorist forces to escape and in order for Musharraf to save face. Defense Secretary Rumsfeld denied having knowledge of this deal.

About 12 Pakistani planes flew between 2,500 and 5,000 ISI and al Qaeda soldiers from the combat zone to safety in Pakistan. Those included at least two Pakistani generals and possibly members of bin Laden’s family.

Former CIA officer Gary Berntsen said he and other United States commanders did know that bin Laden was among the hundreds of fleeing al Qaeda and Taliban members at Tora Bora. Bernsten criticized Rumsfeld’s Defense Department for not providing enough support to the CIA and the Pentagon’s own Special Forces teams in the final hours of Tora Bora. Bersten contended that the Pentagon refused to deploy a cordon of conventional forces to cut off escaping al Qaeda and Taliban members. (Gary Berntsen, Jawbreaker)

According to Germany’s spy chief, August Hanning, bin Laden was able to escape by bribing the Afghan militias. Hanning believed bin Laden paid “a lot of money” to buy a safe passage from the Tora Bora caves where he was cornered during the United States assault. General Tommy Franks also hypothesized that some of the Afghan groups nominally allied to the United States might have allowed Talaban and al Qaeda fugitives to slip away in exchange for money. (BBC, April 13, 2005)

Before being named ambassador to the United States, Turki al-Faisal served from 1977 to 2001 as Saudi Arabia’s director of intelligence services. Curiously, his tenure as head of Saudi intelligence came to an abrupt and unexpected end 10 days before the 9/11 attacks.

Al-Faisa met bin Laden and his lieutenants on at least five occasions, describing the al Qaeda leader as “quite a pleasant man.” Faisa personally managed the Saudis relations with bin Laden and Mullah Muhammad Omar of the Taliban. (Common Dreams, February 2, 2006; As’ad AbuKhalil, The Battle for Saudi Arabia: Royalty, Fundamentalism, and Global Power)

Al-Faisal was named in the $1 trillion lawsuit filed by hundreds of 9/11 victims’ families, who accused him of funding bin Laden’s network. Eventually, a judge dismissed the lawsuit against al-Faisal and his cohorts, saying United States courts lacked jurisdiction over the matter. (Common Dreams, February 2, 2006)

The lawsuit charged that al-Faisal secretly traveled to the southern Afghan city of Kandahar twice in 1998 where he met with bin Laden’s representatives and Omar. The lawsuit also claimed that al-Faisal allegedly received assurances that al Qaeda would not use “the infrastructure in Afghanistan to subvert the royal families’ control of Saudi government.” (Common Dreams, February 2, 2006; As’ad AbuKhalil, The Battle for Saudi Arabia: Royalty, Fundamentalism, and Global Power)

In return, according to the lawsuit, the Saudis promised not to seek bin Laden’s extradition or the closing of his training bases. (Common Dreams, February 2, 2006; As’ad AbuKhalil, The Battle for Saudi Arabia: Royalty, Fundamentalism, and Global Power)

Al-Faisal also allegedly promised Omar financial assistance. Shortly after the meetings, the Saudis reportedly shipped the Taliban 400 new pickup trucks. Kakshar also said that al-Faisal arranged for donations to be made directly to al Qaeda and bin Laden by a group of wealthy Saudi businessmen. Mullah Kakshar’s sworn statement implicated Prince Turki as the facilitator of these money transfers in support of the Taliban, al-Qaeda, and international terrorism. (Common Dreams, February 2, 2006; As’ad AbuKhalil, The Battle for Saudi Arabia: Royalty, Fundamentalism, and Global Power

MULLAH DADULLAH AKHUND. Mullah Dadullah Akhund gained prominence as a Taliban leader in 1998 when he set out to pacify the ethnic minority Hazaras, a Shi’ite group in Bamian province. The one-legged Dadullah massacred hundreds of Hazara civilians, and subsequently Mullah Mohammed Omar relieved him of his command. (Newsweek, July 30, 2006)

One year later Dadullah returned to lead a major drive against the United States-backed Northern Alliance in far-north Kunduz province. He reportedly slaughtered Tajik and Uzbek noncombatants by the hundred. (Newsweek, July 30, 2006)

When United States forces invaded Afghanistan in late 2001, Dadullah abandoned his troops and paid $150,000 to a Northern Alliance commander for safe passage to Pakistan. Once there, he and other Taliban survivors slowly rebuilt their forces. (Newsweek, July 30, 2006)

In 2003, Dadullah was named to Omar’s 10-man advisory council. Dadullah began leading frequent guerrilla raids across the border into Afghanistan. Three years later, he returned to Afghanistan and operated in Helmand province where he claimed he had about 12,000 fighters. He spearheaded the surge of suicide bombings, school burnings, and guerrilla ambushes. An increasing number of his fighters roamed the countryside, entered villages, and warned the inhabitants not to cooperate with the Americans or their allies — or risk death. (Newsweek, July 30, 2006)

THE WAR GOES INTO 2002. A critical turning point in the war came in 2002, when American officials discouraged proposals for international peacekeeping forces. The decision left militia commanders in a strong position. United States commanders funneled money and arms to the warlords for their help against the Taliban. This enabled the fighting groups to gain even greater independence from the new government. (Los Angeles Times, October 8, 2004)

The Bush administration failed to provide coordination among the international forces. In order to wage the war on terrorism, the United States military insisted on giving its 8,000 troops in Afghanistan a free hand to attack remaining Taliban and Al Qaeda forces. The peacekeeping ISAF forces in the country, which concentrated in Kabul, numbered 5,000. They came from 22 countries and were supervised by a German/Dutch force.

In early 2002, the Pakistani province of South Wariristan became the central location for al Qaeda. The United States military and CIA personnel became frustrated by strict rules of engagement that prevented them from chasing al Qaeda suspects across the border into Pakistan. (James Risen, State of War)

When the severe winter ended in 2002 and weather conditions improved, it was essential for the United States military and CIA personnel to regroup. The CIA planned to spend $80 million to establish a new Afghan intelligence service — operated by the United States — stationed in Kabul as part of the new regime. That would serve as a platform for targeting al Qaeda operatives Afghanistan as well as in Pakistan. Afghan intelligence forces could slip across the border into Pakistan and quietly enter villages to gather information. (James Risen, State of War)

By this time, Bush had turned his attention to Iraq and the hunt for bin Laden and al Qaeda operatives were placed on the backburner. In December 2002, Bush met with Rice, Tenet, and Wolfowitz who expressed concerns about the ability to recruit and to gain support in Afghanistan and Pakistan. (James Risen, State of War)

By this time, al Qaeda was rebounding from the losses it sustained from United States forces one year earlier. In southern and eastern Afghanistan, there was a resurgence of Taliban movement with Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, a former Mujahedeen commander and former American ally, calling for a holy war against “occupying forces.” (New York Times, April 26, 2003)

In January 2002, American Special Forces attacked an Afghan school in the Uruzgan village of Khas, where they thought Taliban or Al Qaeda leaders were sheltering. Those inside turned out to be government troops on a weapons collection mission, and 21 of them were killed. Similar mistakes occurred in the city of Kandahar, plus Paktia and other southern provinces. (San Francisco Chronicle, July 7, 2002)

On July 1, American war planes mistakingly hit a string of southern Afghan villages, killing more than 40 civilians and injuring 100. Afghan officials said bombs hit four villages in the area, with each suffering casualties. However, the bulk of the dead was in the village of Kakarak, where a wedding party was under way. Villagers from Kakarak as well as Afghan officials said that it was an American AC-130 plane that attacked their village at two compounds where the wedding party was taking place. As was the custom, children in the compounds were setting off firecrackers and men were firing automatic rifles into the air in celebration. (San Francisco Chronicle, July 7, 2002)

United States military officials in Afghanistan, acknowledging that an American AC- 130 was in the sky over Uruzgan, said it was aiming its guns at known anti-aircraft emplacements in six locations in the area. American officials said the crew of the plane attacked the locations after its crew reported it had been fired upon by anti-aircraft weapons. The Pentagon refused to say whether the AC-130 was responsible for the casualties while the joint United States and Afghan inquiry into the incident is under way. (San Francisco Chronicle, July 7, 2002)

Five days later, Bush called Afghan president Karzai “to express his sympathies to those whose loved ones lost their lives” and that “he certainly did express the tragedy of the situation.” (San Francisco Chronicle, July 7, 2002)

The attack enraged Afghan officials, who had been willing to accept some civilian casualties as the price of ridding their nation of the Taliban and Al Qaeda. Karzai went so far as to summon the commander of allied forces in Afghanistan, Lieutenant General Dan McNeill, to his office to explain the attack. Karzai’s sharp reaction showed his concern that such attacks could turn the population against him and his American allies. (New York Times, July 20, 2002)

Additionally, Jan Mohammed Khan, the governor of the province where the United States air strike occurred, warned that Afghans would rise up against Americans if United States troops did not stop killing civilians in the hunt for Taliban and Al Qaeda fugitives. Khan said, “If Americans don’t stop killing civilians, there will be jihad against them in my province.” . (New York Times, July 20, 2002)

The American air campaign in Afghanistan, based on a high-tech, still produced a pletheroa of mistakes that had killed hundreds of Afghan civilians. On-site reviews of 11 locations where airstrikes killed as many as 400 civilians suggested that American commanders had sometimes relied on mistaken information from local Afghans. Also, the Americans’ preference for airstrikes instead of riskier ground operations had cut off a way of checking the accuracy of the intelligence. (New York Times, July 20, 2002)

The 11 sites visited accounted for many of the principal places where Afghans and human rights groups claimed that civilians had been killed. Field workers with Global Exchange, an American organization that had sent survey teams into Afghan villages, said they had compiled a list of 812 Afghan civilians who were killed by American airstrikes. They said they expect that number to grow as their survey teams reach more remote villages. (New York Times, July 20, 2002)

On July 1, during an operation to hunt Taliban leaders, an American AC-130 gunship attacked four villages around the hamlet of Kakrak. American soldiers later found villagers gathering up the limbs of their neighbors. Local officials counted 54 dead, most of them women and children, and at least 120 wounded. (New York Times, July 20, 2002)

American pilots fired on Kakrak after Special Operations forces on the ground reported seeing antiaircraft guns firing, military officials said. According to the villagers, there were two engagement parties that night, and some of the men were firing their guns in celebration, an Afghan tradition. The Americans said their planes had been fired on, but the villagers denied aiming at anything. (New York Times, July 20, 2002)

What angered Afghans and Westerners working in the area was what they described as a trigger-happy American approach. No Americans entered the village before the planes opened fire. Once called in, the American AC-130 gunship, which employs machine guns and heavy cannons, strafed four villages. (New York Times, July 20, 2002)

The pattern of striking with maximum force on questionable targets began months before, when American planes attacked an ammunition dump in the village of Niazi Qala, 50 miles south of Kabul, and wiped out the entire village. A United Nations spokeswoman said 52 people died there. (New York Times, July 20, 2002)

THE BATTLE OF KONDUZ. In January 2002, two investigators from the Boston-based Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) were allowed to visit Sheberghan prison. They saw more than 3,000 Taliban prisoners — who had surrendered to the Northern Alliance forces at the fall of Konduz in late November — were crammed, sick and starving, into a facility with room for only 800. The Northern Alliance commander of the prison acknowledged the awful conditions, but pleaded that he had no money. He begged the PHR to send food and supplies, and to ask the United Nations to dig a well so the prisoners could drink unpolluted water. (Newsweek, August 26, 2002)

Stories of a deeper horror came from the prisoners themselves. Of some who were lucky to survive, many said they had been killed on the journey to Sheberghan from Konduz by being stuffed into sealed cargo containers and left to asphyxiate. Local aid workers and Afghan officials quietly confirmed that they had heard the same stories. They confirmed persistent reports about the disposal of many of the dead in mass graves at Dasht-e Leili. (Newsweek, August 26, 2002)

Prisoners were stuffed into the unventilated trucks or were in a position to prevent that. They were in the area of the prison at the time the containers were delivered, although probably not when they were opened. The small group of Special Forces soldiers was more focused at the time on prison security, and preventing an uprising such as the bloody outbreak that had happened days earlier in the prison fort at Qala Jangi. The soldiers heard stories of deaths in the containers, but may have thought them exaggerated. They also may have believed that the dead were war casualties, or wounded prisoners who, among thousands of their comrades, simply didn’t survive the rugged journey from the surrender point to the prison. Nevertheless, Pentagon spokesmen attempted to dodge questions when asked about atrocities. (Newsweek, August 26, 2002)

Parts of a confidential United Nations memorandum were made available to Newsweek. It said that the findings of investigations into the Dasht-e Leili graves “are sufficient to justify a fully-fledged criminal investigation.” It also said that based on “information collected,” the site “contains bodies of Taliban POWs who died of suffocation during transfer from Konduz to Sheberghan.” A witness quoted in the report puts the death toll at 960. Yet the report also raised urgent questions. “Considering the political sensitivity of this case and related protection concerns, it is strongly recommended that all activities relevant to this case be brought to a halt until a decision is made concerning the final goal of the exercise: criminal trial, truth commission, other, etc.” (Newsweek, August 26, 2002)

The militia leader whose forces allegedly carried out the killings was General Abdul Rashid Dostum, one of Afghanistan’s most ruthless and effective warlords. Dostum’s spokesperson, Faizullah Zaki, told Newsweek that many people did die of suffocation. But he put the total number at “between 100 and 120 people, a few from each container,” and said that some of them “were seriously injured and died en route.” He suggested that the uprising at Qala Jangi prison, just three days earlier, might have affected their treatment. “If the incident at Qala Jangi hadn’t happened, it’s possible that the prisoners would have been transferred more peacefully. There would have been less irregularities,” he said, adding: “They suffocated. Died, not killed. Nobody killed anybody.” Zaki also said that General Dostum was not in the place where the prisoners were loaded into containers. “The technical details of the transfer were left to lower-level commanders,” he said, adding that “there was a handful of American soldiers that didn’t leave (Dostum’s) side” during the period in question. (Newsweek, August 26, 2002)

The close involvement of American soldiers with General Dostum would likely make an investigation all the more sensitive. “The issue nobody wants to discuss is the involvement of U.S. forces,” said Jennifer Leaning, professor at the Harvard School of Public Health and one of the pair of Physicians for Human Rights investigators who pushed their way into Sheberghan. “U.S. forces were in the area at the time. What did the U.S. know, and when and – where — and what did they do about it?” (Newsweek, August 26, 2002)

The Taliban and al Qaeda forces at Konduz surrendered in a negotiated deal that took two to three days to hammer out. According to Shams-ul-Haq (Shamuk) Naseri, a mid-level Northern Alliance commander who was present, the talks were held in the presence of three American intelligence officers and over one dozen Special Forces soldiers. Northern Alliance commanders, including General Dostum, agreed to relatively generous conditions: The Afghan fighters would be allowed to go home to their villages. Most of the Pakistanis could also return home after the Americans picked out suspected al Qaeda operatives. Arabs and other foreign fighters would be turned over to the United Nations or some other international organization. According to another Afghan present at the talks, Said Vasiqullah Sadat, the Taliban representatives insisted that their men surrender to General Dostum, because they figured he was the least likely to seek revenge for past killings. The surrender would formally start on Sunday, November 25 — to give time for the Taliban leaders to sell the deal to their forces in Konduz. (Newsweek, August 26, 2002)

The day after negotiations ended, roughly 400 hard-core fighters made a break for it anyway, fleeing west. But the vast majority of fighters trapped in Konduz surrendered ‘like sheep,’ according to Naseri. ‘One went and the rest followed.’ The agreed site for the actual surrender was Yerganak, a desert spot about five miles west of Konduz. Most of the top Taliban and foreign commanders drove out, and their vehicles were promptly confiscated by the Northern Alliance. The rest walked. Four checkpoints had been set up at Yerganak to disarm the fighters and load them onto whatever vehicles were available: pickups, big-wheeled, open-topped Russian Kamaz trucks, even some container trucks. But the numbers streaming out of Konduz overwhelmed the facilities, and most of those surrendering waited three or four days in the desert. (Newsweek, August 26, 2002)

Dostum and another Northern Alliance commander, Atta Mohammed, were at Yerganak to monitor the surrender. So were dozens of American Special Forces troops, according to United States and Afghan participants. Some of the Special Forces teams were zipping around the area on four-wheeler motorcycles; Dostum was filmed at the time enjoying a ride on the back of one. The Americans provided much of the food and water given to the waiting masses. But they were there primarily to provide credible muscle, a message that was reinforced by the frequent appearance of United States bombers streaking overhead. (Newsweek, August 26, 2002)

On November 30, a convoy of seven trucks arrived at Sheberghan. The day after, a third convoy of another seven trucks arrived. Newsweek was able to interview some of the drivers. They said “most of those containers contained many dead bodies — but not all. The inmates of one truck in those convoys passed about $750 in Pakistani money to the driver through a crack in the floor as a bribe to cut air holes and spray in water through a hose. All 150 inmates survived. In at least one container, the prisoners themselves managed to rip holes in the wooden floor, and all of them survived.” (Newsweek, August 26, 2002)

A prisoner who survived in Sheberghan prison said his container was packed to the breaking point. He said, “After nearly 24 hours without water, the prisoners were so desperate with thirst that they began licking the sweat off each other’s bodies. Some prisoners began to lose their reason and started biting those around them. Abdul’s was one of the containers in the third convoy to Sheberghan: by the time they reached the prison, only 20 to 30 in his container were alive. (Newsweek, August 26, 2002)

One 20-year-old was shoved into a fully packed container. He thought that after about eight hours, the prisoners began kicking the sides of the container and shouting for air and water. None came. Some of the prisoners began using their turbans to soak and drink the sweat off each other’s bodies. After a few more hours many of the prisoners started going crazy and bit each other’s fingertips, arms and legs. Anything to get moisture. By the time they reached Sheberghan, only about 40 in his container were still alive. (Newsweek, August 26, 2002)

Another prisoner reported that he and about 1,500 other Pakistanis were bound hand and foot either with their own turbans or with strips ripped from their clothing. Then they were packed in container trucks “like cattle.” He estimated that about 100 people died in his container. (Newsweek, August 26, 2002)

The Red Cross, learning of the arrivals of prisoners from Konduz, applied on November 29 to get into Sheberghan. Dostum’s commander at the prison promised that access would be granted within 24 hours. But it was not until December 10 that the Red Cross got into the prison. By then, most of the bodies had probably been buried. Dostum’s interpreter denied that allegation. (Newsweek, August 26, 2002)

There were witnesses near the burial site who noticed unusual activity. The hamlet of Lab-e Jar was about half a mile east of the grave site. On several nights in the first half of December, Dostum’s soldiers forbade the villagers to leave their homes. Most of the villagers are now too frightened to talk. One said, “Bodies have been buried there for years. You know what happened. I know what happened. But nothing is going to change if we talk about it.”

Some villagers said that around the first week in December, Dostum’s soldiers blocked the dirt road running past Dasht-e Leili for several days. He said, “No cars, no donkey carts, not even pedestrians were allowed to go down the road.” He personally saw four or five container trucks at the burial site. When United Nations investigators talked with the people of Lab-e Jar in May, two residents told of seeing bulldozers at work on the site around the middle of December. (Newsweek, August 26, 2002)

The Red Cross has questioned survivors and compiled a report about the events. Top officials at the Red Cross’s Geneva headquarters met to discuss, inconclusively, what to do next. A pair of United Nations investigators were present when Haglund dug his trial trench across the Dasht-e Leili grave site. After questioning local witnesses, they, too, compiled a report. Two United Nations entities — the Assistance Mission to Afghanistan and the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights — also been mulling what to do. (Newsweek, August 26, 2002)

The American military refused to conduct a full-fledged investigation. And it was not asked to participate in one by other agencies. United Nations officials said their inquiries had not implicated United States forces. Publicly, the Pentagon kept its distance. At the end of January, Department of Defense officials were told (by the PHR) of the discovery of what appeared to be a recent mass grave. In late February, officials at the Pentagon and the State Department were given confidential copies of the first formal report compiled by Haglund and his colleagues at the PHR. Consistently, however, the Pentagon responded that Central Command investigated and found that United States troops knew nothing of any killings — that the Pentagon had no reason to believe there were killings. (Newsweek, August 26, 2002)

In June, DOD spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Dave Lapan said that Central Command had questioned individually the forces in Afghanistan “several months ago.” “Central Command looked into it and found no evidence of participation or knowledge or presence. Our guys weren’t there, didn’t watch and didn’t know about it — if indeed anything like that happened.” A DOD statement a week later was emphatic: “No U.S. troops were present anywhere near that site in November. U.S. troops were present in the December/January timeframe when the mass graves were discovered.” (Newsweek, August 26, 2002)

There were holes in his story. The American unit most directly involved was the 595 A-team, part of the Fifth Special Forces Group based at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. The leader of the dozen-man 595 was Captain Mark Nutsch. The Special Forces A-teams were the crucial link between the Northern Alliance militia on the ground and United States firepower in the air. Attached to each A-team in the Afghan campaign was at least one Air Force Special Operations soldier called a combat air controller. It was the high-precision airstrikes called in by those CACs that destroyed the Taliban forces. Each A-team was assigned to a specific local commander, and 595’s assignment was to work with General Dostum. (Newsweek, August 26, 2002)

Members of 595 met up with Dostum on October 19 at his headquarters at Darra-e Suf in south of Mazar-e Sharif. Over the three days that the first convoys of dead were arriving at Sheberghan, Special Forces troops were in the area. There was also a separate, four-man United States intelligence team at the prison doing first selections of al Qaeda suspects for further questioning. Special Forces soldiers were mainly concerned about security at the prison. At the same time the containers of dead were arriving, many truckloads of living prisoners were also streaming in. On the evening of December 1, a container arrived with 86 survivors from Qala Jangi. One of them was John Walker Lindh. (Newsweek, August 26, 2002)

In the fall of 2002, the United Nations agreed to send a forensics team to a mass grave at Dasht-e Leili in north Afghanistan where hundreds of captured Taliban were buried last December after suffocating in airless container trucks en route to prison. (Newsweek, August 26, 2002)

THE WAR IN 2003. When Bush marched off to war against Iraq in March 2003, White House officials realized they could not ignore the bin Laden factor and the war in Afghanistan. Later that year, the CIA established a series of covert bases inside Pakistan to hunt for bin Laden. This came with the approval of the Pakistan regime. (James Risen, State of War)

However, the Pakistani government placed strict limits on the United States. CIA officials were carefully supervised by Pakistani officials as they were forced to travel in the rugged border area. That made it virtually impossible for CIA operants to conduct effective intelligence-gathering operations among the local tribes in northwest Pakistan. (James Risen, State of War)

The mission of the Bush administration failed partly because of inadequate planning. Meanwhile, al Qaeda was evolving into a larger world-wide network that was strengthened by Bush’s imperialist policy not only in Afghanistan but in Iraq as well. More and more moderate Muslims, resentful of American hegemony, were turning to radical Islam.

Security was a major factor impeding Afghanistan’s reconstruction. In February 2003, two Afghan commanders traded fire near a United States base at Bagram. A month later came the ambush killing of two members of United States Special Forces and the cold-blooded murder of Red Cross worker Ricardo Munguia. Also in March, an International Security Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (ISAF) base near Kabul was attacked with rockets, killing a Dutch peacekeeper.

Due to the continuing instability and violence, much of Afghanistan remained unsafe for the United Nations, the International Commission of the Red Cross (ICRC), and other non-governmental aid agencies. On March 29, 2003, the ICRC closed all its field operations after the execution-style killing of one of its employees by Taliban fighters who ambushed an ICRC convoy.

In mid-2003, violence intensified across Afghanistan, as the Bush administration prepared to turn more control over to United Nations forces. The stepped-up attacks reflected the increased presence of Taliban insurgents.

A former Taliban deputy foreign minister reported that in April 2003, Bin Laden convened the biggest terror summit since 9/11 at a mountain stronghold in Afghanistan. Those attending besides Bin Laden included three top-ranking representatives from the Taliban, several senior Al Qaeda operatives, and leaders from radical Islamic groups in Chechnya and Uzbekistan. (Newsweek, September 8, 2003)

On July 18, eight Afghan soldiers working with American-led forces werre killed when their vehicle was blown up by a remote-controlled mine in Khost province. The following day, 24 Taliban insurgents were killed on the Pakistan border in Kandahar province after a convoy of Americans was attacked. On July 29, Taliban supporters killed two government soldiers and a senior cleric, the third Muslim cleric in 40 days to die at the hands of Taliban assassins. (New York Times, August 20, 2003)

In one week alone in August, 80 people died in Afghanistan, one of the deadliest since the fall of the Taliban in December 2001. On August 7, six Afghan soldiers and a driver for an American aid agency were killed in a raid by Taliban guerrillas in the southern province of Helmand. The Taliban announced it killed five other soldiers in a separate attack. Another 20 people were killed in fighting in the country’s east. The bomb exploded in Helmand province aboard a bus en route to the provincial capital of Lashkar Gah. It was the deadliest such attack since a bomb killed 35 people in Kabul in September 2002. (New York Times, August 13, 2003)

In the east, suspected Taliban fighters attacked government soldiers in the province of Khost, about four miles from the border with Pakistan. Fifteen attackers and five government soldiers were killed. A local commander said that government troops had captured one Pakistani fighter and one Arab whose nationality was unknown. In Kabul, two university students were killed and another was seriously wounded when a bomb they were making went off by accident. (New York Times, August 13, 2003)

On August 13 and 14, more than 50 people are killed in several separate incidents. Taliban guerrillas attacked government soldiers near the Pakistan border, killing five. Fifteen people, including six children, were killed when a bomb exploded on their bus in the southern province of Helmand. In Kabul, two university students died as a bomb they were making exploded. (New York Times, August 13, 2003; August 20, 2003)

American forces forced Taliban fighters out of the mountains and towards the Pakistan border. The Bush administration hoped Pakistani troops would capture them. But after three days of tribal protests, Musharraf called off the search, and not one Taliban soldier was arrested. It became increasingly evident that the Pakistani army was opposed to cooperating with the United States in hunting down al Qaeda forces. (Time, September 29, 2003)

In September, Khan Mohammed, commander of over 3,000 Afghan troops, said, “There is no doubt that the situation is getting worse. The Taliban have regrouped, and my troops are battling them all the time. These raids will continue.” (Chicago Tribune, October 1, 2003)

On August 17, Taliban fighters took four police officers hostage in a village in Paktika province in eastern Afghanistan and fled into Pakistan. In the north, two Afghans working for a British charity were wounded in an ambush. (New York Times, August 20, 2003)

The following day, Taliban fighters attacked a district governor’s house in eastern Afghanistan. Seven people were killed. On August 19 — in the fourth reported attack on Afghan government employees or aid workers in two days — suspected Taliban fighters killed nine police officers in eastern Afghanistan. (New York Times, August 20, 2003)

In September, the Vienna-based United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime estimated the heroin and opium harvest for 2003 brought in $1.2 billion. Warlords across Afghanistan financed their attacks with drug trafficking and, in some places, forced farmers to grow. (New York Times, September 5, 2003)

THE WAR IN 2004. Beginning in February 2004, the Pakistani army, backed by United States intelligence and surveillance, pushed into autonomous tribal areas of Afghanistan near the Pakistan border. The United States provided satellite intelligence and aerial surveillance to assist Pakistani operations. By summer, thousands of Afghan citizens had been uprooted from their homes as a result of raids by the Pakistani Army. (New York Times, July 20, 2004)

In March, Human Rights Watch charged that American troops in Afghanistan committed human rights abuses, including the use of excessive force during arrests and the mistreatment of prisoners. Human Rights Watch also said the Defense Department had not adequately explained at least three deaths of prisoners in United States custody, two of whom were declared homicides by American military doctors. Their death certificates cited “blunt force injuries” to the legs. (Los Angeles Times, March 9, 2004)

In July alone, 25,000 people poured into Afghanistan, fleeing South Waziristan where Pakistani forces, with American help, battled a major concentration of foreign fighters and sympathetic local tribesmen. (New York Times, July 20, 2004)

By the summer, attacks on international aid workers increased, and nearly all the non-governmental organizations pulled out of Afghanistan. Taliban fighters killed 16 people who carried identity cards to vote in the upcoming national elections. The attack in the southern province of Oruzgan was the deadliest in an insurgent campaign to sabotage the Afghanistan’s first free vote. (The Nation, June 2, 2004; Los Angeles Times, June 28, 2004)

Doctors Without Borders began withdrawing from Afghanistan because of the killing of five of its staff and the risk of further attacks. The group also said it was pulling out because it was unhappy with a government investigation of the June 2, 2004 deaths and with the “co-optation of humanitarian aid” by United States forces there “for military and political motives.” (Los Angeles Times, July 28, 2004)

The following day, a bomb blast killed six people, including two United Nations workers registering Afghan voters, in an area of southeast Afghanistan where United States forces have frequently battled Taliban fighters and their allies. (Los Angeles Times, July 29, 2004)

The next month, an explosion in Kabul tore through the office of an American security contractor, killing seven people, including two Americans. The explosion hit the office of Dyncorp Incorporated, an American firm, that provided security for Karzai. (New York Times, August 28, 2004)

THE WAR IN 2005. In the fall of 2005, insurgents shifted to deadlier tactics. Before that time, suicide bombings were relatively rare in Afghanistan. But in September and October, nine such attacks were carried out, killing dozens. (PBS News Hour, November 17, 2005)

Indicating the war in Afghanistan was not his priority, Bush slashed funding for the country’s reconstruction from $1 billion in 2004 to a mere $615 million in 2006. (The Nation, March 27, 2006)

INCREASED VIOLENCE IN 2006. United States forces faced increased resistance from the Taliban in 2006. Violence surged to its worst level since the American invasion in 2001. (Washington Post, June 28, 2006)

In one day alone in early September, Taliban fighters were killed and 80 others were captured. On May 29, 2006, United States troops were photographed killing six unarmed Afghan civilians Kabul. The pictures were taken by an Afghan passer-by in Khair Kane, a district of north Kabul. The 20 photographs appeared to show a group of unarmed Afghan civilians being killed by gunfire from an American Humvee. (London’s The Independent, August 8, 2006)

In a four-month span during the summer of 2006, Taliban insurgents killed over 1,600 people. (The Mercury News, September 1, 2006) The largest attack occurred on September 7 when a suicide bomber smashed a car into an American military vehicle just yards from the United States embassy in downtown Kabul, killing two American soldiers and 14 civilians as well as wounding 29 others. (New York Times, September 8, 2006) In September, two international think-tanks — the Senlis Council and the International Institute of Strategic Studies (IISS) — released reports that detailed the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan.

The Senlis Council concluded that British forces inflicted lawlessness, misery, and starvation on the Afghan people. Thousands of villagers fled the fighting and a drought, while farmers lost their livelihood with the eradication of the opium crop and were forced into refugee camps that were operated under dreadful conditions. (London’s The Independent, September 6, 2006)

The IISS reported the United States lost a vital opportunity when it failed to carry out adequate reconstruction work after the 2001 war. The Bush administration failed to impose secular laws on a tribal Pashtun society without the establishment of security. (London’s The Independent, September 6, 2006)

Despite the escalated violence, in September, Bush proudly announced, “As a result of the United States military, (the) Taliban is no longer in existence.” Bush lied. (White House Press Release, September 2004) But 18 months later — in June 2006 — the White House claimed the resurgence of the Taliban was predictable. (USA Today, June 20, 2006)

When Bush visited Afghanistan in March 2006, he depicted the country as an unqualified success story, describing it as “inspiring.” (White House Press Release, March 1, 2006) That was far from the case.

A report released one month later by the Council on Foreign Relations provided the grim details. The Council described a country “challenged by a terrorist insurgency that has become more lethal and effective and that has bases in Pakistan, a drug trade that dominates the economy and corrupts the state, and pervasive poverty and insecurity.”

Eventually, the Bush administration acknowledged that the insurgency was increasing and becoming more effective. The number of bombings increased, and attacks using improvised explosive devises doubled. (Council on Foreign Relations, April 10, 2006)

In May, a United States military convoy was traveling through Kabul when a large cargo truck crashed into 12 civilian vehicles. Witnesses said United States troops fired into a crowd of angry Afghans who were trying to stop the convoy as it left the scene of the accident. The United States military’s official statement read: “There are indications that at least one coalition military vehicle fired warning shots over the crowd.” The Pentagon claimed it appeared a mechanical failure had caused the accident. At least one person was killed in the accident, while Karzai’s office put the number of fatalities at five. After thousands of people rampaged through the capital for several hours, the death toll rose to at least 11 people. (Washington Post, May 29, 2006)

Rioters looted and burned several offices of the United Nations and foreign aid agencies, including United States-based CARE International, which had provided support to Afghans throughout decades of war. Police arrested 160 people during the riots. Afghanistan’s Parliament demanded that the United States compensate the owners of several vehicles damaged in the traffic accident. (Los Angeles Times, May 31, 2006)

In September, Bush still proudly announced, “As a result of the United States military, (the) Taliban is no longer in existence.” Bush lied. (White House Press Release, September 2004) But 18 months later — in June 2006 — the White House claimed the resurgence of the Taliban was predictable. (USA Today, June 20, 2006)

In September, VoteVets.org conducted a poll among United States military personnel who had served in Afghanistan. The following month, the results were published:

Forty-two percent claimed that they had been given improper equipment and that they faced serious health problems upon their return home.

Thirty-five percent reported that their trucks had no armor protection.

Ten percent said the trucks were “up-armored” with scrap metal.

Sixty-three percent believed the Army and Marine Corps were overextended.

Seventy-nine percent agreed that National Guard and Reserve veterans deserved the same type of health coverage as active-duty personnel. (Agence France Presse, October 4, 2006)

As the war in Afghanistan continued to deteriorate, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist dealt Bush a severe blow. Frist conceded that the war against the Taliban could never be won militarily. He urged support for efforts to bring “people who call themselves Taliban” and their allies into the government.

Frist acknowledged that Taliban fighters were too numerous and had too much popular support to be defeated on the battlefield. He said, “You need to bring them into a more transparent type of government. And if that’s accomplished, we’ll be successful.” (Washington Post, October 2, 2006)

In one battle alone in October 2006, NATO warplanes killed at least 50 civilians, mostly women and children. The attack took place in southern Afghanistan during a major Islamic holiday during the Eid al-Fitr festival marking the end of the Muslim fasting month. (Reuters, October 26, 2006)

Brigadier Ed Butler, commander of three British battle groups, said the invasion of Afghanistan left a dangerous vacuum in the country. He said the delay in deploying NATO troops after the overthrow of the Taliban in 2002 meant British soldiers faced a much tougher.

Also, General Sir Richard Dannatt, the head of the army, said that Iraq affected operations in Afghanistan. He said, “We could have carried on in 2002 in the same way we have gone about business now (in 2006).”

With the Taliban controlling the vast amount of Afghanistan, Brigadier Ed Butler, commander of three British battle groups, said in October 2006 the invasion of Afghanistan left a dangerous vacuum in the country. He said the delay in deploying NATO troops after the overthrow of the Taliban in 2002 meant British soldiers faced a much tougher.

Also, General Sir Richard Dannatt, the head of the army, said that Iraq affected operations in Afghanistan. He said, “We could have carried on in 2002 in the same way we have gone about business now (in 2006).”

As violence continued to escalate between British and Taliban forces, the Bush administration cut a deal with tribal leaders in Helmand Province. Both sides agreed to a cease-fire and to the withdrawal of both sides from the one southern district in Helmand. (New York Times, December 2, 2006)

In December 2006, a joint committee by the Pentagon and the State Department found that the American-trained police forces in Afghanistan were incapable of carrying out routine police work. Police training experts said they agreed with the committee’s findings. (New York Times, December 2, 2006)

The managers of the $1.1 billion program could not say how many officers were actually on duty and where thousands of trucks and other equipment were located. Most police units had less than 50 percent of their authorized equipment (New York Times, December 4, 2006)

According to American analysts, al Qaeda functioned under a loose command structure and were operated by groups of Arab, Pakistani, and Afghan militants allied with al Qaeda. They received guidance from their commanders and bin Laden’s deputy, Ayman al-Zawahri. After 2001, members of various militant groups in Pakistan increased their cooperation with one another in the tribal areas. (New York Times, February 19, 2007)

Analysts said that North Waziristan became a hub of militant activity in 2006, after Musharraf negotiated a treaty with tribal leaders in the area. He pledged to pull troops back to barracks in the area in exchange for tribal leaders’ ending support for cross-border attacks into Afghanistan. American and Pakistani intelligence officials said that the agreement had been a failure. (New York Times, February 19, 2007)

Also in 2006, senior leaders of al Qaeda operating from Pakistan began re-establishing significant control over their worldwide terror network. American intelligence officials said there was mounting evidence that bin Laden and his deputy, Ayman al-Zawahri, steadily built an operations hub in the mountainous Pakistani tribal area of North Waziristan and set up a band of training camps in the tribal regions near the Afghan border. Additionally, insurgent tactics from Iraq spread to Afghanistan, where suicide bombings increased fivefold and roadside bomb attacks have doubled. (New York Times, February 19, 2007)

However, al Qaeda training camps never reached the size and level of sophistication of their camps established in Afghanistan under Taliban rule. But groups of 10 to 20 men were trained at the camps, and the al Qaeda infrastructure in the region gradually became more mature. (New York Times, February 19, 2007)

American intelligence and counterterrorism officials said that most of the men receiving training in Pakistan carried out attacks inside Afghanistan, but that al Qaeda had also strengthened its ties to groups in Iraq that had sworn allegiance to bin Laden. They said dozens of seasoned fighters were moving between Pakistan and Iraq, apparently engaging in an “exchange of best practices” for attacking American forces. (New York Times, February 19, 2007)

By the end of 2006, in their southern strongholds, 35 percent of schools remained closed. (Newsweek, December 11, 2006)

Karzai and his counterpart in Pakistan, openly quarreled about the cause of the Taliban’s re-emergence. Musharraf blamed Karzai’s incompetence and weakness. Karzai argued that Pakistan was actively supporting the Taliban along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, and in Pakistan itself. (Newsweek, December 11, 2006)
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British forces intercepted at least two arms shipments from Iran to Afghanistan’s Helmand province since April 2007. Such shipments reflected an unlikely liaison between two historic rivals, the Shi’ite theocrats in Iran and the Sunni Taliban in Afghanistan. In 2007, Iran continued to increase arms shipments to both Iraq’s Shi’ites and Afghanistan’s Taliban in an apparent attempt to pressure American and other Western troops operating in its two strategic neighbors. (Washington Post, June 3, 2007)

The intercepted shipments to Afghanistan included 107mm mortars, rocket-propelled grenades, C-4 explosives, and small arms. They were identical to shipments to Iraqi militias around Basra in March 2007. The C-4 explosives in both shipments had fake United States markings, a common deceptive tactic. (Washington Post, June 3, 2007

In the summer of 2007, a senior British commander in southern Afghanistan asked that American Special Forces leave his area of operations because the high level of civilian casualties they had caused was making it difficult to win over local people. Other British officers here in Helmand Provinc criticized American Special Forces for causing most of the civilian deaths and injuries in their area. They also expressed concerns that the Americans’ extensive use of air power was turning the people against the foreign presence as British forces were trying to solidify recent gains against the Taliban. (New York Times, August 9, 2007)

In the first half of 2007, more civilians were killed as a result of foreign military action than had been killed by insurgents. (BBC, June 23, 2007)

In June, Karzai complained that the United States and NATO failed to co-ordinate with their Afghan allies and thereby causing civilian deaths. Karzai criticized his Western allies’ “extreme” use of force and said they should act as his government asked. He accused international forces of consistently failing to co-ordinate with their Afghan colleagues and said every military operation should be coordinated directly with his government, in accordance with written plans that had already existed. (BBC, June 23, 2007)

6. THE PAUL TILLMAN SAGA

In the aftermath of 9/11, Bronco Denver football player Paul Tillman joined the Army Rangers with his brother. After a tour in Iraq, their unit was sent to Afghanistan in the spring of 2004, where they were to hunt for the Taliban and Bin Laden. (New York Times, May 22, 2005)

Shortly after arriving in the mountains to fight, Tillman was killed in a barrage of gunfire from his own men, mistaken for the enemy as he got into position to defend them. After a public memorial service, Tillman was awarded the Silver Star. Only did the Pentagon acknowledge the cause of his death after soldiers from his unit told the true story — that he was the victim of “friendly fire.” Yet, one investigation showed that soldiers in Afghanistan knew almost immediately that they had killed Tillman by mistake in what they believed was a firefight with enemies on a tight canyon road. The investigation also revealed soldiers later burned Tillman’s uniform and body armor. (New York Times, May 22, 2005)

One year later — in May 2005 — Tillman’s parents lashed out at the Bush administration which, they said, “lied” about their son’s death. They charged that the military’s investigations into Tillman’s death were a sham and that Army efforts to cover up the truth had made it harder for them to deal with their loss. (New York Times, May 22, 2005)

Tillman’s mother said, “Pat had high ideals about the country; that’s why he did what he did. The military let him down. The administration let him down. It was a sign of disrespect. The fact that he was the ultimate team player and he watched his own men kill him is absolutely heartbreaking and tragic. The fact that they lied about it afterward is disgusting.” (New York Times, May 22, 2005)

Tillman’s father said he was furious about what he found in the volumes of witness statements and investigative documents that the Army had given to the family. He called it a “botched homicide investigation” and blamed high-ranking Army officers for presenting “outright lies” to the family and to the public. The father said, “After it happened, all the people in positions of authority went out of their way to script this. They purposely interfered with the investigation. They covered it up. I think they thought they could control it, and they realized that their recruiting efforts were going to go to hell in a handbasket if the truth about his death got out. T hey blew up their poster boy.” (New York Times, May 22, 2005)

Army medical examiners were suspicious about the close proximity of the three bullet holes in Tillman’s forehead. They tried without success to get authorities to investigate whether Tillman’s death amounted to a crime. The doctors said that the bullet holes were so close together that it appeared the Army Ranger was cut down by an M-16 fired from a mere 10 yards or so away. (Associated Press, July 27, 2007)

Ultimately, the Pentagon did conduct a criminal investigation, and asked Tillman’s comrades whether he was disliked by his men and whether they had any reason to believe he was deliberately killed. But the Pentagon ruled that Tillman’s death at the hands of his comrades was a friendly-fire accident. (Associated Press, July 27, 2007)

The

2,300 page report by the medical examiners included:

1. In his last words moments before he was killed, Tillman snapped at a panicky comrade under fire to shut up and stop “sniveling.”

2. Army attorneys sent each other congratulatory e-mails for keeping criminal investigators at bay as the Army conducted an internal friendly-fire investigation that resulted in administrative, or non-criminal, punishments.

3. The three-star general who kept the truth about Tillman’s death from his family and the public told investigators some 70 times that he had a bad memory and couldn’t recall details of his actions.

4. No evidence at all of enemy fire was found at the scene – no one was hit by enemy fire, nor was any government equipment struck.
>P>5. The doctor who autopsied Tillman’s body was suspicious of the three gunshot wounds to the forehead. The doctor said he took the unusual step of calling the Army’s Human Resources Command and was rebuffed. He then asked an official at the Army’s Criminal Investigation Division if the CID would consider opening a criminal case. (Associated Press, July 27, 2007)

In December 2006, inspectors in the Pentagon inspector general’s office questioned General Philip Kensinger for four hours. He repeatedly contradicted other officers’ testimony, and sometimes his own. He said on some 70 occasions that he did not recall something. At one point, he said: “You’ve got me really scared about my brain right now. I’m really having a problem.” (Associated Press, July 27, 2007)

7. THE RAHMAN CASE

Under guidelines of the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998, the State Department was mandated to name human rights offenders in their International Religious Freedom Report. One of the most significant provisions of the law was the requirement to list countries that “engage in or tolerate violations” of religious freedom.

In November 2003, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) warned Bush that the Afghan constitution failed to protect freedom of religion and instead institutionalized a system of “Taliban’lite.” Specifically, USCIRF said that the constitution mandated that all legislation must conform to the religion of Islam, creating a system that would allow for religious orthodoxy to be officially imposed. Despite the warnings, Bush praised the document as a constitution that “talked about freedom of religion.” (www.thinkprogress, January 23, 2004) The State Department similarly said the “Afghan constitution, as we understand it, also provides for freedom of religion.” (BBC News, March 22, 2006)

In March 2006, claims that Afghanistan was a democracy were questioned. An Afghan citizen, Abdul Rahman, converted to Christianity and was immediately sentenced to be executed. The claims by the Bush administration that freedom of religion was prospering in Afghanistan were only lies. The USCIRF repeated its warnings that the Afghan constitution allowed the “harsh, unfair, or even abusive interpretation of religious orthodoxy to be officially imposed on all Afghans. (Democracy in Action, March 25, 2006)

An embarrassed Bush administration went into motion to reduce the damage. Secretary of State Rice spoke directly with Karzai in hopes that he would convince the Afghan judiciary to drop charges.

The Afghan prosecutor never labeled Rahman insane, but called him “a microbe who should be cut off and removed from the rest of Muslim society and should be killed.” (Democracy in Action, March 25, 2006)

An embarrassed Bush administration went into motion to reduce the damage. Secretary of State Rice spoke directly with Karzai in hopes that he would convince the Afghan judiciary to drop charges. Days later, Rahman was declared “mentally unfit” to stand trial, and he was eventually released. But the damage had already been done.

8. AFGHANISTAN’S INFRASTRUCTURE

Afghanistan’s infrastructure. The country’s infrastructure remained in turmoil. Its economy continued to falter. The $1.8 billion earmarked to rebuild Afghanistan was funneled primarily to emergency aid for refugees and war victims. However, funds were not made available for employment and generating jobs and improving living standards. No attempt was made to establish a national army. The United States and France succeeded in training only 2,000 Afghan soldiers. Some recruits went home when the Defense Ministry refused to incorporate them. Defense Minister Mohammed Fahim, an ethnic Tajik himself, refused to allow non-Tajiks to enter the military. (San Francisco Chronicle, May 3, 2003)

In March 2003, Afghanistan’s finance minister warned a donor conference that a lack of “predictable finance” would lead the country to backslide into a “narco-mafia state.” By mid-2003, opium production increased by two-fold since the Afghanistan war.(www.bostonphoenix.com, April 18, 2003)

Canada’s National Post reported that many crucial projects — ranging from revamping the Afghan judicial system to highway construction to disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration (DDR) of Afghan troops — had stalled due to lack of funds from the US and other donor countries. (National Post, March 2003)

The Bush administration was hampered by a lack of vision, mismanaged projects, and theft. Plans were made to construct new hotels and clinics. In March, Washington agreed to give $35 million in financing and political risk insurance to Hyatt International to construct a five-star hotel where the legions of entrepreneurs and aid officials could stay when they visited Kabul. (Los Angeles Times, September 1, 2003)

In March, the Bush administration doubled to $100 million the total line of credit that the Overseas Private Investment Corporation offered to private American investors in Afghanistan. More than a third of that was committed to the Hyatt hotel project in Kabul. (Los Angeles Times, September 1, 2003)

Many Afghans continued to lack basic services such as clean water and sewer systems. Kabul’s estimated 3 million people lived without such basics as a sewer system, and there was no plan to build one. The Afghan government borrowed $3.4 million from the Asian Development Bank to prepare the ground for a $400-million city of at least 750,000 people, to be built on disputed government land in semi-desert territory northeast of Kabul. Yet, it did not know if any donors or investors would pay to complete the city or if there would be enough clean water and jobs for residents. When crews tried to drill test wells, militia members, who claimed the land was theirs, opened fire. About 1,600 foreign and local aid agencies worked in Afghanistan, more than three times the number under the Taliban. Yet corruption remained rampant. (Los Angeles Times, September 1, 2003)

Foreign governments promised aid grants totaling just under $4.5 billion over five years — less than a third of what the Afghan government said was required to reconstruct the country. However, the amount of promised aid dropped sharply — from $910 million in 2004 to only $391 million in 2006. According to an Afghan government report released in April, 45 percent of the aid was spent on immediate humanitarian needs, while only 29 percent went to projects such as rebuilding roads, schools, and hospitals. (Los Angeles Times, September 1, 2003)

In September, the aid agency Care and the International Cooperation (CIC) both said the Bush administration promises made in the aftermath of the September 11 had not been fulfilled. Meanwhile, the Bush administration doubled its annual economic package — from $1 billion to $2 billion. (www.dawn.com, September 16, 2003)

The Peace Humanitarian Agency was shut down in July and its Afghan head was arrested on suspicion that the organization, which claimed to be based in the Netherlands, was embezzling aid money. (Los Angeles Times, September 1, 2003)

Many schools were forced to close for lack of money, and farmers struggled as war-damaged irrigation systems remained in disrepair. The United States sent $60 million to build schools, provide textbooks, and train teachers. However, Afghanistan’s cash-poor government did not have the revenue to pay teachers. Many teachers quit and schools closed because warlords who helped the American military during the 2001 war — and received money and weapons in return — resisted Karzai’s order to hand over an estimated $800 million in annual tax revenue. (Los Angeles Times, September 1, 2003)

9. THE ROLE OF WOMEN

Bush boasted that women would play a significant role in Afghanistan. But with the exception of Kabul, women continued to play a subservient role in Afghan society. A Red Cross report on “Women and Reconstruction,” said, “A renewed and expanded international commitment to security is urgently needed if the limited gains women have made in Kabul are to be institutionalized and emulated in other Afghan cities.” (www.bostonphoenix.com, April 18, 2003)

After American troops invaded Afghanistan, a number of girls’ schools opened throughout the country. But since then, Islamic extremists used intimidation to shut down many. (The Nation, June 2, 2004)

A study conducted by Amnesty International revealed that in the two years, after the overthrow of the Taliban, the plight of most Afghan women had not improved. The October 2003 report showed that women were still cloistered in their homes and, while in public, were forced to wear shrouding burqas. They still were forced into marriages. The study also indicated that high numbers of rapes and domestic violence continued to exist. (San Francisco Chronicle, October 67, 2003; The Nation, June 2, 2004)

Afghan women suffered the highest rate of pregnancy-related deaths in the world, according to the World Bank. Less than 20 percent of Afghans could access to safe drinking water. Just 6 percent had electricity. Fifty percent suffered from chronic malnutrition.

Women’s rights continued to deteriorate. In 2006, Women Worldwide found violence against women was still endemic — and the number of women setting fire to themselves because they could not bear their lives was rising dramatically. (The Independent, November 1, 2006)

The iconic images of women throwing off their burqas after the overthrow of the Taliban in 2001 were always a fiction. Except among a small elite in Kabul, the overwhelming majority of women in Afghanistan were still forced to cover their entire bodies and faces.

The report’s researchers found that very little has changed. Between 60 and 80 per cent of all marriages in Afghanistan are forced. As many as 57 per cent of girls were married off below the age of 16, some as young as six. Because of the custom of paying a bride price, marriage was essentially a financial transaction, and girls a commodity. (The Independent, November 1, 2006)

The custom of baad, when girls and women were exchanged to settle debts and disputes, was still widely practiced. The women were not treated as proper wives, but in effect were slave workers for their husbands. (The Independent, November 1, 2006)

Honor killing was also still widespread. Women were killed for dishonoring their families through “crimes” such as even being seen associating with a man. A family member killed the woman. (The Independent, November 1, 2006)

Even women who hade been raped could not report the crime because they risked being prosecuted for having sex outside marriage. (The Independent, November 1, 2006)

The Taliban were vilified for denying girls education, but even only 19 per cent of Afghan schools were for girls and only 5 per cent of girls of secondary school age were enrolled. (The Independent, November 1, 2006)

10. AFGHANISTAN’S CONSTITUTION

The October 2003 draft of a new constitution did not invoke Shariah, the Islamic law that, among other restrictions, did not tolerate dissent. But it said that no law would be contrary to the sacred religion of Islam. It said the members of the Supreme Court should be educated in either civil law or Islamic law, a provision that raises the possibility of more judges who base their rulings on the Koran rather than civil law. Finally, although women would become part of the government, there was no separate acknowledgment of rights for women. (New York Times, November 14, 2003)

After 9/11, Laura Bush and National Security Advisor Rice made comments about the terrible way women were treated under the Taliban. They suggested that Bush’s war was in part to obtain equal human rights for women. Nevertheless, Afghanistan’s new constitution did not specifically guarantee the equality of women. (New York Times, December 3, 2003)

In the spring of 2003, Bush withdrew a “special presidential envoy” who had been dedicated solely to the stabilization and reconstruction of Afghanistan. In December 2002, Afghan envoy Zalmay Khalilzad was given an additional post closer to the Bush administration’s top priority – “special envoy and ambassador at large for free Iraqis.”

Incredibly, Khalilzad was not asked to relinquish his Afghan brief to someone else; his Iraq-related responsibilities were simply added to his already demanding Afghan ones. As a result, in 2003, Khalilzad spent little time on Afghanistan. Instead, he has engaged in attempts to broker deals with Iraqi opposition forces and to keep Turkey out of Northern Iraq. (www.bostonphoenix.com, April 18, 2003)

On May 28, 2003, Amnesty International issued its annual report. The international human rights organization concluded that more than 18 months after the war in Afghanistan ended, millions of Afghans, including returning refugees, still faced an uncertain and insecure future.

2004 and 2005 elections. Preparations for Afghanistan’s October 2004 direct nationwide elections got off to a slow start. When voter registration began in December 2003, less than 10 per cent of about 10.5 million eligible voters had signed up. Only two per cent were eligible women. No political parties were recognized, no electoral laws were enacted, and security problems were limited registration to major cities in a country with a 70 per cent rural population. (Washington Post, February 16, 2004)

The interim government was dealt a blow prior to the October elections. Seventeen candidates, including several well-known warlords, challenged the incumbent Karzai. (Los Angeles Times, August 11, 2004)

Northern Alliance leaders maneuvered to strengthen their alliances. In July, one of the country’s most powerful warlords, Defense Minister Mohammed Qasim Fahim, announced he would seek the presidency. He led the Northern Alliance against the Taliban in late 2001. (New York Times, July 26, 2004)

General Abdul Rashid Dostum, an ethnic Uzbek shifted sides throughout the turmoil and criticized Karzai for favoring Pashtuns over ethnic minorities like his own. Dostum’s forces were accused of committing numerous human rights abuses and war crimes. (New York Times, July 26, 2004)

Haji Mohammed Mukhaqiq of the minority Shi’ite Muslim Hazaras of central Afghanistan became another top candidate. The lone female candidate was Massouda Jalal, a physician who ran a distant second to Karzai at the a jirgaos Angeles Times, August 11, 2004)

Two weeks before the election, Bush announced, “(The) Taliban no longer is in existence.” He was dead wrong. The Taliban made a steady comeback throughout the countryside since the American invasion in late 2001. The Afghan death toll attributed to the Taliban rose by 45 percent in 2004. More than 40 election workers were killed or wounded by the Taliban in the fall of 2004 leading up to the election. (New York Times, August 24, 2004)

The Taliban controlled a substantial support in the provinces and tribal areas along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, regardless of enhanced efforts in 2004 by the Pakistani government to cooperate with the United States. (Center for American Progress, “Security in Afghanistan: The Continuing Challenge,” October 2004)

Bush bragged that 10 million people had registered to vote. But in some regions, many people registered more than once. In fact, Human Rights Watch reported that the number of registered voters in some areas exceeded the local population. (Time, October 11, 2004)

In addition, the Bush administration also inflated the number of registered women, claiming that 41 percent of the nation’s population had registered. Human Rights Watch reported that in some regions less than 10 percent of those registered were women. (Time, October 11, 2004)

Afghanistan’s first presidential election was unexpectedly peaceful, but it was marred by 15 candidates’ declaring it was illegitimate. They charged that cheating and fraud was widespread. Those candidates asked for a new vote. But United Nations and Afghan officials, overseeing the voting largely dismissed their concerns, said they believed any problems had been corrected during the day. (New York Times, October 10, 2004)

Marking pens, instead of indelible ink, were used in some areas to indicate that one had voted. The marks from the pens could easily be washed off to enable one to vote again. The ink was meant to be “the last line of defense against fraud,” according to the Afghanistan Research and Evaluation Unit, an independent research group. In addition, over 100,000 fake ballots were used. Some polling places were shut down when the tally turned against Karzai. Despite the charges of a fraudulent election, Karzai was finally declared the winner four weeks later. (New York Times, October 10, 2004; Time, October 18, 2004)

One year later, Afghanistan held its first parliamentary elections. The turn-out was 20 per cent lower than in the presidential election of 2004. Fifty percent of voters went to the polls. This was down from 70 per cent in 2004. (Britain’s The Independent, September 20, 2005)

11. OPIUM PRODUCTION

Once Karzai was elected president, opium production escalated. Afghanistan’s production capacity for oven-dried opium soared to 1,278 metric tons in 2002, according to DEA statistics. Production more than doubled in 2003. It nearly doubled once again in 2004. Afghanistan became the world’s largest producer of opium. It exported 87 percent of the world’s supply of opium. (James Risen, State of War)

The revenue generated from opium production accounted for 52 percent of Afghanistan’s GDP. More than 300,000 families in Afghanistan raised opium as a cash crop, but it earned them an average of less than $1,800 a year. The remaining 80 percent of the country’s total drug income went to the traffickers and their well-connected friends. (Newsweek, January 9, 2006)

Opium-production spread from eight provinces in 1994 to 28 provinces in 2004. The United Nations calculated that the combined income of poppy farmers and opium smugglers in 2003 was $2.32 billion — equal to 50 percent of Afghanistan’s GDP. (Time, March 8, 2004)

Within one year of the Taliban’s collapse in 2001, Afghanistan regained its rank as the world’s leading producer of opium. Afghanistan was the source of about 90 percent of the heroin on the streets of Europe. Poppy-farming families earned on average $3,900 in 2003 in a country where the per capita income is only a little over $200. (New York Times and The Guardian, February 9, 2004)

Opium was cultivated in 28 of the country’s 32 provinces, up from 18 provinces in 1999. (www.scoop.co, February 9, 2004) Afghanistan had a 2003 bumper harvest of 3,900 tons of opium. The opium business included farmers who cultivated poppies and as much again to the traffickers, middlemen and processors who refined the opium into heroin. In 2002, Afghanistan accounted for 75 percent of the world’s heroin that amounted to $2.3 billion — more than half of the nation’s gross domestic product. (New York Times, The Guardian, Chicago Tribune, February 9, 2004; Time, March 8, 2004)

In the first two years that the United States was at war — 2001 and 2002 — Afghanistan’s estimated opium production rose 6 percent from 3,400 tons to 3,600 tons. In 2003 and 2004, drugs poured $4.8 billion into the Afghan economy. That was 70 percent more than the $2.8 billion from foreign aid. (Chicago Tribune, February 9, 2004; Los Angeles Times, October 8, 2004)

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime estimated the heroin and opium harvest for 2003 brought in $1.2 billion. In the three years since the American invasion of December 2001, Afghanistan increased its drug protection by 100 percent. Warlords exported 75 percent of the world’s supply. (Time Asia, August 9, 2004; Los Angeles Times, October 8, 2004)

Drug profits were funneled into the pockets of terrorists to help finance terrorism with funds empowering Al Qaeda and the Taliban as well as Afghan warlords and militias. (New York Times, September 5, 2003; Time Asia, August 9, 2004; Los Angeles Times, October 8, 2004)

Afghanistan’s drug economy reached $1.5 billion in 2004. The United Nations predicted production was at 3,600 tons of opium — 75 percent of the world’s heroin. (Chicago Tribune, February 9, 2004; Time, March 8, 2004)

Warlords across Afghanistan financed their attacks with drug trafficking and, in some places, forced farmers to grow. Western experts estimated that 60 percent of Afghanistan’s warlords profited from opium, using the cash to fund their armies – thus weakening the Karzai regime. (Time, March 8, 2004)

According to Antonio Maria Costa, the director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, some of the Afghanistan’s $3 billion-a-year drug business was funneled to the Taliban, Al Qaeda, and the Hezb-i-Islami group loyal to fundamentalist warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar. (Chicago Tribune, February 9, 2004)
Drug experts and diplomats said they did not know exactly how much of the $3 billion was funneled directly to Al Qaeda and the Taliban, but they were certain that the groups profited to some degree. They also said that drugs played an increasingly important role in fueling the resurgence of terrorist networks that United States forces came to Afghanistan to dismantle. (Chicago Tribune, February 9, 2004)Mirwais Yasini, head of Afghanistan’s Counter Narcotics Directorate, estimated the Taliban and its allies derived more than $150 million in 2003 from drugs. That money, he said, “is being used directly against the Afghan government and the international forces.” (Chicago Tribune, February 9, 2004)

According to Adam Bouloukos of the United Nations drug and crime office in Kabul, “With the amount of cash flowing around the countryside, it’s very easy to mobilize forces and pay people for terror attacks. The only way they can pay for their troops is through this opium economy because the country produces very little else.” (Chicago Tribune, February 9, 2004)

The World Bank calculated that more than half of Afghanistan’s economy was tied up in drugs. The combined incomes of farmers and in-country traffickers reached $2.23 billion in 2003 — up from $1.3 billion in 2002. (Time, August 9, 2004)

Juma Khan came from the Baluchistan desert near Pakistan was picked up three months after 9/11 near Kandahar and taken into United States custody. Though known as a drug trafficker, he seemed an insignificant catch, and subsequently he was released. But Khan became the kingpin of a heroin-trafficking enterprise of funding for the Taliban and Al Qaeda terrorists. (Time, August 9, 2004)

In 2004, United States Navy seizures in the Persian Gulf of several small boats carrying heroin and hashish along with alleged Al Qaeda operatives indicated a link between the terrorist network and drug trafficking. Drug routes allowed escape of Al Qaeda operatives out of Afghanistan. Officials estimated Al Qaeda operatives in Peshawar, Pakistan, took delivery of about 4,400 pounds of processed heroin every two months, which would net the organization $36 million over one year at current street values in Pakistan. (Chicago Tribune, February 9, 2004)

Mirwais Yasini, head of Afghanistan’s Counter Narcotics Directorate, “The Taliban provide security for the traffickers and the traffickers fund the Taliban.” This meant that hundreds of Taliban recruits crossed the border from Pakistan with instructions to carry out attacks on United States forces, aid workers, and Afghan government forces. They were promised money in return for carrying out attacks. Reports showed that Taliban leaders paid foot soldiers up to $17 a day, and that the going rate for planting a car bomb was $25,000. (Chicago Tribune, February 9, 2004)

In May 2004, residents of Wardak province, near Kabul, became resentful of the United States and the Afghan government because of the ongoing anti-poppy efforts. Some local officials and United Nations officers said the simultaneous launching of the anti-poppy and disarmament programs could sharpen anti-government sentiment and could hurt American chances in future elections. (Washington Post, May 24, 2004)

A resident in Wardak said, “The government has taken away our guns, and now it is destroying our livelihoods. We have agreed to turn in our weapons in the name of peace, but we don’t have enough water to grow any other crops but poppy. Why are they bringing this cruelty upon us?” (Washington Post, May 24, 2004)

The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy estimates that area of poppy cultivation in Afghanistan has grown from 1685 hectares in 2001 to 61,000 hectares in 2003. (Washington Post, May 24, 2004)

In May 2005, the United States Embassy in Kabul warned that an American-financed poppy eradication program aimed at curtailing Afghanistan’s huge heroin trade had been ineffective. The May 13 internal memo said this was in part because President Karzai “has been unwilling to assert strong leadership.” (New York Times, May 22, 2005)

The cable also said that provincial officials and village elders had impeded destruction of significant poppy acreage and that top Afghan officials, including Karzai, had done little to overcome that resistance. (New York Times, May 22, 2005)

In addition, the memo also faulted Britain, which has the top responsibility for counternarcotics assistance in Afghanistan, for being “substantially responsible” for the failure to eradicate more acreage. The various areas, where British personnel chose to operate, were often not the main growing areas, and the British were unwilling to revise targets. (New York Times, May 22, 2005)

According to a 2005 study by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime UNODC) and by the Ministry of Counter Narcotics, approximately 170,000 Afghans — roughly 1.4 percent of the population — used opium or heroin. About 30,000 of those addicts were women, a shockingly high number in such a conservative Muslim nation. (Newsweek, January 9, 2006)

General Daud and President Karzai’s younger brother, Ahmed Wali Karzai, were key players in Afghanistan’s opium business. Ahmed Karzai was a personal representative of his brother and lived in Kandahar. Interior Ministry official Ahmed Wali Karzai charged that Karzai “is the unofficial regional governor of southern Afghanistan and leads the whole trafficking structure.” (Newsweek, January 9, 2006)

About 25 percent of the members of Afghanistan’s Parliament, who were elected in 2005, were linked to narcotics production and trafficking. One especially controversial figure was Arif Noorzai, who won the post of deputy speaker of Parliament. He denied any wrongdoing. In a study for the independent Afghanistan Research and Evaluation Unit, Afghan expert Andrew Wilder concluded that at least 17 newly elected Members of Parliament were drug traffickers themselves; 24 others were connected to criminal gangs’ 40 were commanders of armed groups; and 19 faced serious allegations of war crimes and human-rights abuses. (Newsweek, January 9, 2006)

THE BURAEU FOR INTERNATIONAL NARCOTICS AND LAW ENFORCEMENT AFFAIRS. One role of the Bureau for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL), an arm of the State Department, was to evaluate opium production in Afghanistan. The INL was headed by Bobby Charles who closely watched figures that showed opium production was on the increase after the United States invasion. (James Risen, State of War)

Charles suggested an aggressive plan to eradicate a large portion of Afghanistan’s poppy fields. He recommended aerial spraying with herbicide glyphosate, commonly sold as Roundup. He believed that a diluted version of Roundup would no lead to serious health problems. But Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Deputy Secretary Paul Wolfowitz blocked Charles’ proposal. (James Risen, State of War)

Charles informed anyone in the White House who would listen. He warned that Afghanistan could soon be drowned under a flood of opium. He said, “You had to take it seriously or it will devour the democracy.” No one listened. (James Risen, State of War)

In early 2004, Charles testified before Congress that the opium problem was worsening in Afghanistan. But White House officials complained. One said he was “inconvenient.” NSC Advisor Rice fired Charles in early 2005. (James Risen, State of War)

Both the Bush administration and the CIA ignored Afghanistan’s drug problem. Some CIA officials urged the bombing of Afghan drug labs after 9/11. Their pleas were ignored. (James Risen, State of War)

United States intelligence was well aware of the locations of key heroin processing labs and warehouses. The Pentagon refused their destruction, even though that would have dealt a major blow to the opium business. (James Risen, State of War)

The Bush administration could easily have captured Haji Bashir Noorzai, the top drug lord when the Taliban ruled Afghanistan. After the American invasion soon after 9/11, Mullah Omar handed Noorzai $20 million in Taliban money for safekeeping. Noorzai took the risk of surrendering to American forces – but was released several days later. (James Risen, State of War)

One year later, the CIA asked Noorzai to fly to the United States to negotiate a deal. Amazingly, he agreed. Federal agents did not know what to do with him, and they eventually put him up in a New York City Hotel. Noorzai was eventually arrested and then indicted in April 2005. (James Risen, State of War)

In 2005, the Bush administration suspected that at least one member of the Afghan government was implicated in drug trafficking. More corruption as evident in Afghanistan’s regional governments, particularly where the poppy crop was flourishing the most. (James Risen, State of War)

United States forces that discovered drugs were told they “could” destroy them. Yet they were never legally “ordered” to destroy them. By 2003, American forces often ignored shipments of opium when they were discovered during searches. One Green Beret was actually ordered to “ignore” heroin and opium when he and his unit discovered them on patrol. (James Risen, State of War)

In 2006, Afghanistan’s opium harvest increased by nearly 50 percent from the year before. Even one province in the north, Badakhshan, where the Taliban was no threat, showed a significant increase in poppy cultivation. According to the United Nations, about 38,000 acres of poppy fields were confirmed destroyed in 2006, whereas only about 12,000 acres were eradicated in 2005. (United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, New York Times, September 2, 2006)

Since the beginning of 2007, the Karzai administration adamantly opposed to the use of chemical herbicides to eradicate poppy fields. Karzai was reluctant, in part, because of concerns about the possible environmental and public health consequences. Afghan officials also argued that a program with American-financed chemical eradication squads wiping out farmers’ livelihoods would hand the Taliban rebels a major propaganda tool and risk driving farming communities into the insurgency’s camp. (New York Times, October 22, 2007)

Facing pressure from the Bush administration, Karzai formed an international scientific committee to review the safety of chemical herbicides to combat Afghanistan’s opium poppy crop. The Afghan government has also formed two of its own committees to study the issue and vowed to conduct a speedy review process. (New York Times, October 22, 2007)

According to Faizullah Kakar, the Public Health Ministry’s deputy minister for technical affairs, “glyphosate can run into ditches and run into rivers and that’s the water that the whole population is using.” Kakar also said he had encountered some findings that suggested there might be a link between glyphosate and health problems. (New York Times, October 22, 2007)

1 Comment »

  1. […] LOSING THE WAR IN AFGHANISTAN Filed under: Uncategorized — barabie @ 12:03 pm Bush used the word “crusade” several times in talking about how the United States would fight terrorism. His use of “crusade’ conjured up very different memories in the Islamic world — of a bloody Christian holy war against Arabs. In 1099, for instance, the Crusaders massacred many of the inhabitants of Jerusalem. Read more… […]

    Pingback by LOSING THE WAR IN AFGHANISTAN « Arab bARABie blog — November 2, 2007 @ 12:03 pm


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