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Profile: Taliban

 
  

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Taliban actively participated in the following events:

 
  

1986: Bin Laden Works with CIA, at Least Indirectly      Complete 911 Timeline

       The CIA, ISI, and bin Laden build the Khost tunnel complex in Afghanistan. This will be a major target of bombing and fighting when the US attacks the Taliban in 2001. [Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 9/23/01; Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 9/23/01; The Hindu, 9/27/01] It will be reported in June 2001 that “bin Laden worked closely with Saudi, Pakistani, and US intelligence services to recruit mujahedeen from many Muslim countries,” but this information has not been reported much since 9/11. [UPI, 6/14/01] A CIA spokesperson will later claim, “For the record, you should know that the CIA never employed, paid, or maintained any relationship whatsoever with bin Laden.” [Ananova, 10/31/01]
People and organizations involved: Taliban, Central Intelligence Agency, Pakistan Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence, Osama bin Laden
          

September 1994: ISI Creates the Taliban, Helps Them Begin Afghanistan Conquest      Complete 911 Timeline

       Starting as Afghan exiles in Pakistan religious schools, the Taliban begin their conquest of Afghanistan. [MSNBC, 10/2/01] “The Taliban are widely alleged to be the creation of Pakistan's military intelligence [the ISI], which, according to experts, explains the Taliban's swift military successes.” [CNN, 10/5/96] Richard Clarke, a counterterrorism official during the Reagan and George H. W. Bush administrations and the counterterrorism “tsar” by 9/11, later claims that not only does the ISI create the Taliban, but they also facilitate connections between the Taliban and al-Qaeda to help the Taliban achieve victory. [Clarke, 2004, pp 53] An edition of the Wall Street Journal will state in November 2001, “Despite their clean chins and pressed uniforms, the ISI men are as deeply fundamentalist as any bearded fanatic; the ISI created the Taliban as their own instrument and still support it.” [Asia Times, 11/15/01] ISI support of the Taliban is backed by the CIA. A long-time regional expert with extensive CIA ties later says, “I warned them that we were creating a monster.” He adds that even years later, “the Taliban are not just recruits from ‘madrassas’ (Muslim theological schools) but are on the payroll of the ISI.” [Times of India, 3/7/01] The same claim is made on CNN in February 2002. [CNN, 2/27/02]
People and organizations involved: Richard A. Clarke, Central Intelligence Agency, al-Qaeda, Pakistan Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence, Taliban
          

1996: Pakistan and Saudi Arabia Said to Make Secret Deals with Taliban and al-Qaeda      Complete 911 Timeline

       In June 2004, the Los Angeles Times will report that, according to some 9/11 Commission members and US counterterrorism officials, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia cut secret deals with the Taliban and bin Laden before 9/11. These deals date to this year, if not earlier, and will successfully shield both countries from al-Qaeda attacks until long after 9/11. “Saudi Arabia provid[es] funds and equipment to the Taliban and probably directly to bin Laden, and [doesn't] interfere with al-Qaeda's efforts to raise money, recruit and train operatives, and establish cells throughout the kingdom, commission and US officials [say]. Pakistan provide[s] even more direct assistance, its military and intelligence agencies often coordinating efforts with the Taliban and al-Qaeda, they [say].” The two countries will become targets of al-Qaeda attacks only after they launch comprehensive efforts to eliminate the organization's domestic cells. In Saudi Arabia, such efforts won't begin until late 2003. [Los Angeles Times, 6/20/04] However, such allegations go completely unmentioned in the 9/11 Commission's final report, which only includes material unanimously agreed upon by the ten commissioners. [9/11 Commission Final Report, 7/24/04]
People and organizations involved: Saudi Arabia, al-Qaeda, Osama bin Laden, Pakistan, Taliban
          

Mid-1996-October 2001: Ariana Airlines Becomes Transport Arm of al-Qaeda      Complete 911 Timeline

      
Victor Bout.
In 1996, al-Qaeda assumes control of Ariana Airlines, Afghanistan's national airline, for use in its illegal trade network. Passenger flights become few and erratic, as planes are used to fly drugs, weapons, gold, and personnel, primarily between Afghanistan, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Pakistan. The Emirate of Sharjah, in the UAE, becomes a hub for al-Qaeda drug and arms smuggling. Typically, “large quantities of drugs” are flown from Kandahar, Afghanistan, to Sharjah, and large quantities of weapons are flown back to Afghanistan. [Los Angeles Times, 11/18/01] About three to four flights run the route each day. Many weapons come from Victor Bout, a notorious Russian arms dealer based in Sharjah. [Los Angeles Times, 1/20/02] Afghan taxes on opium production are paid in gold, and then the gold bullion is flown to Dubai, UAE, and laundered into cash. [Washington Post, 2/17/02] Taliban officials regularly provide militants with false papers identifying them as Ariana Airlines employees so they can move freely around the world. A former National Security Council official later claims the US is well aware at the time that al-Qaeda agents regularly fly on Ariana Airlines, but the US fails to act for several years. The US does press the UAE for tighter banking controls, but moves “delicately, not wanting to offend an ally in an already complicated relationship,” and little changes by 9/11. [Los Angeles Times, 11/18/01] Much of the money for the 9/11 hijackers flows though these Sharjah, UAE, channels. There also are reports suggesting that Ariana Airlines might have been used to train Islamic militants as pilots. The illegal use of Ariana Airlines helps convince the United Nations to impose sanctions against Afghanistan in 1999, but the sanctions lack teeth and do not stop the airline. A second round of sanctions finally stops foreign Ariana Airlines flights, but its charter flights and other charter services keep the illegal network running. [Los Angeles Times, 11/18/01]
People and organizations involved: al-Qaeda, Ariana Airlines, Victor Bout, United Nations, United Arab Emirates, Taliban
          

September 27, 1996: Victorious Taliban Supported by Pakistan; Viewed by US, Unocal as Stabilizing Force      Complete 911 Timeline

       The Taliban conquer Kabul [Associated Press, 8/19/02] , establishing control over much of Afghanistan. A surge in the Taliban's military successes at this time is later attributed to an increase in direct military assistance from Pakistan's ISI. [New York Times, 12/8/01] The oil company Unocal is hopeful that the Taliban will stabilize Afghanistan and allow its pipeline plans to go forward. According to some reports, “preliminary agreement [on the pipeline] was reached between the [Taliban and Unocal] long before the fall of Kabul . ... Oil industry insiders say the dream of securing a pipeline across Afghanistan is the main reason why Pakistan, a close political ally of America's, has been so supportive of the Taliban, and why America has quietly acquiesced in its conquest of Afghanistan.” [Daily Telegraph, 10/11/96] The 9/11 Commission later concludes that some State Department diplomats are willing to “give the Taliban a chance” because it might be able to bring stability to Afghanistan, which would allow a Unocal oil pipeline to be built through the country. [9/11 Commission Report, 3/24/04]
People and organizations involved: Taliban, Unocal, Pakistan Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence, US Department of State, 9/11 Commission
          

October 1996-early 2002: Arms Dealer Aligns with Taliban and ISI      Complete 911 Timeline

       Russian arms merchant Victor Bout, who has been selling weapons to Afghanistan's Northern Alliance since 1992, switches sides, and begins selling weapons to the Taliban and al-Qaeda instead. [Los Angeles Times, 1/20/02; Los Angeles Times, 5/17/02; Guardian, 4/17/02] The deal comes immediately after the Taliban captures Kabul in late October 1996 and gains the upper hand in Afghanistan's civil war. In one trade in 1996, Bout's company delivers at least 40 tons of Russian weapons to the Taliban, earning about $50 million. [Guardian, 2/16/02] Two intelligence agencies later confirm that Bout trades with the Taliban “on behalf of the Pakistan government.” In late 2000, several Ukrainians sell 150 to 200 T-55 and T-62 tanks to the Taliban in a deal conducted by the ISI, and Bout helps fly the tanks to Afghanistan. [Montreal Gazette, 2/5/02] Bout formerly worked for the Russian KGB, and now operates the world's largest private weapons transport network. Based in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bout operates freely there until well after 9/11. The US becomes aware of Bout's widespread illegal weapons trading in Africa in 1995, and of his ties to the Taliban in 1996, but they fail to take effective action against him for years. [Los Angeles Times, 5/17/02] US pressure on the UAE in November 2000 to close down Bout's operations there is ignored. Press reports calling him “the merchant of death” also fail to pressure the UAE. [Financial Times, 6/10/00; Guardian, 12/23/00] After President Bush is elected, it appears the US gives up trying to get Bout, until after 9/11. [Guardian, 4/17/02; Washington Post, 2/26/02] Bout moves to Russia in 2002. He is seemingly protected from prosecution by the Russian government, which in early 2002 will claim, “There are no grounds for believing that this Russian citizen has committed illegal acts.” [Guardian, 4/17/02] The Guardian suggests that Bout may have worked with the CIA when he traded with the Northern Alliance, and this fact may be hampering current international efforts to catch him. [Guardian, 4/17/02]
People and organizations involved: United Arab Emirates, George W. Bush, Russia, Pakistan Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence, al-Qaeda, Taliban, Victor Bout, Central Intelligence Agency, Northern Alliance
          

Late 1996: Bin Laden Becomes Active in Opium Trade      Complete 911 Timeline

       Bin Laden establishes and maintains a major role in opium drug trade, soon after moving the base of his operations to Afghanistan. Opium money is vital to keeping the Taliban in power and funding bin Laden's al-Qaeda network. Yossef Bodansky, Director of the Congressional Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare and author of a 1999 biography on bin Laden, says bin Laden takes a 15 percent cut of the drug trade money in exchange for protecting smugglers and laundering their profits. [Minneapolis Star-Tribune, 9/30/01] Another report estimates that bin Laden takes up to 10 percent of Afghanistan's drug trade by early 1999. This would give him a yearly income of up to $1 billion out of $6.5 to $10 billion in annual drug profits from within Afghanistan. [Financial Times, 11/28/01]
People and organizations involved: Osama bin Laden, Taliban, al-Qaeda
          

1997: CIA Re-opens Afghanistan Operations      Complete 911 Timeline

       Special CIA paramilitary teams enter Afghanistan again in 1997. [Washington Post, 11/18/01] (The CIA's anti-Soviet covert operations officially ended in January 1992. [Coll, 2004, pp 233] ) Around 1998 there will be a push to recruit more agents capable of operating or traveling in Afghanistan. Many locals are recruited, including some Taliban military leaders. However, apparently none is close to bin Laden. This problem is not fixed in succeeding years. [Washington Post, 2/22/04; 9/11 Commission Report, 3/24/04 (C)]
People and organizations involved: Osama bin Laden, Taliban, Central Intelligence Agency
          

May 26, 1997: Taliban Government Is Officially Recognized by Saudis      Complete 911 Timeline

       The Saudi government becomes the first country to extend formal recognition of the Taliban government of Afghanistan. Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates will follow suit. On 9/11, these three countries are the only countries that officially recognize the Taliban. [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03 (B)]
People and organizations involved: Saudi Arabia, Taliban, United Arab Emirates, Pakistan
          

December 4, 1997: Taliban Representatives Visit Unocal in Texas      Complete 911 Timeline

      
Taliban representatives in Texas, 1997.
Representatives of the Taliban are invited guests to the Texas headquarters of Unocal to negotiate their support for the pipeline. Future President George W. Bush is Governor of Texas at the time. The Taliban appear to agree to a $2 billion pipeline deal, but will do the deal only if the US officially recognizes the Taliban regime. The Taliban meet with US officials. According to the Daily Telegraph, “the US government, which in the past has branded the Taliban's policies against women and children ‘despicable,’ appears anxious to please the fundamentalists to clinch the lucrative pipeline contract.” A BBC regional correspondent says that “the proposal to build a pipeline across Afghanistan is part of an international scramble to profit from developing the rich energy resources of the Caspian Sea.” [BBC, 12/4/97; Daily Telegraph, 12/14/97]
People and organizations involved: George W. Bush, Clinton administration, Unocal, Taliban
          

1998: US and Uzbekistan Conduct Joint Operations Against Taliban      Complete 911 Timeline

       Beginning in 1998, if not before, Uzbekistan and the US conduct joint covert operations against Afghanistan's Taliban regime and bin Laden. [Times of India, 10/14/01; Washington Post, 10/14/01]
People and organizations involved: Taliban, Osama bin Laden, Uzbekistan, United States
          

July 1998: Taliban and Saudis Meet and Purportedly Make a Deal      Complete 911 Timeline

       Taliban officials allegedly meet with Prince Turki, head of Saudi intelligence, to continue talks concerning the Taliban's ouster of bin Laden from Afghanistan. Reports on the location of this meeting, and the deal under discussion differ. According to some reports, including documents exposed in a later lawsuit, this meeting takes place in Kandahar. Those present include Prince Turki al-Faisal, head of Saudi Arabian intelligence, Taliban leaders, senior officers from the ISI, and bin Laden. According to these reports, Saudi Arabia agrees to give the Taliban and Pakistan “several hundred millions” of dollars, and in return, bin Laden promises no attacks against Saudi Arabia. The Saudis also agree to ensure that requests for the extradition of al-Qaeda members will be blocked and promise to block demands by other countries to close down bin Laden's Afghan training camps. Saudi Arabia had previously given money to the Taliban and bribe money to bin Laden, but this ups the ante. [Sunday Times, 8/25/02] A few weeks after the meeting, Prince Turki sends 400 new pickup trucks to the Taliban. At least $200 million follow. [New York Post, 8/25/02; Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 9/23/01] Controversial author Gerald Posner gives a similar account said to come from high US government officials, and adds that al-Qaeda leader Abu Zubaida also attends the meeting. [Posner, 2003, pp 189-90] Note that reports of this meeting seemingly contradict reports of a meeting the month before between Turki and the Taliban, in which the Taliban agreed to get rid of bin Laden (see June 1998).
People and organizations involved: Osama bin Laden, Pakistan Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence, Turki bin Faisal bin Abdul Aziz al Saud, Abu Zubaida, Pakistan, al-Qaeda, Taliban
          

August 9, 1998: Northern Alliance Stronghold Conquered by Taliban; Pipeline Project Now Looks Promising      Complete 911 Timeline

       The Northern Alliance capital of Afghanistan, Mazar-i-Sharif, is conquered by the Taliban. Military support of Pakistan's ISI plays a large role; there is even an intercept of an ISI officer stating, “My boys and I are riding into Mazar-i-Sharif.” [New York Times, 12/8/01] This victory gives the Taliban control of 90 percent of Afghanistan, including the entire proposed pipeline route. CentGas, the consortium behind the gas pipeline that would run through Afghanistan, is now “ready to proceed. Its main partners are the American oil firm Unocal and Delta Oil of Saudi Arabia, plus Hyundai of South Korea, two Japanese companies, a Pakistani conglomerate and the Turkmen government.” However, the pipeline cannot be financed unless the government is officially recognized. “Diplomatic sources said the Taliban's offensive was well prepared and deliberately scheduled two months ahead of the next UN meeting” where members are to decide whether the Taliban should be recognized. [Daily Telegraph, 8/13/98]
People and organizations involved: Energy Information Agency, Northern Alliance, Taliban, Pakistan Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence
          

August 20, 1998: ISI Alerts the Taliban to Incoming Missiles Targeting Their Shared Training Camps      Complete 911 Timeline

       The US missile strike on Afghanistan on this day inadvertently reveals connections between al-Qaeda and the ISI. Two of the four camps in Afghanistan hit had strong connections to the ISI, and five ISI officers and some twenty trainees are killed. The US also loses the element of surprise. General Joseph Ralston, the vice-chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was purposely scheduled to eat dinner with General Jehangir Karamat, the Pakistani Army's chief of staff, in Islamabad, Pakistan the night of the missile strike. At one point during the dinner, Ralston looks at his watch and announces that in ten minutes about sixty cruise missiles will be entering Pakistan's airspace on their way to Afghanistan. This is done to make sure the missiles wouldn't be misidentified and shot down. [New Yorker, 1/24/00] But this carefully timed ploy is not successful. Counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke claims he was promised by the Navy that it would fire their missiles from below the ocean surface. However, in fact, many destroyers fired their missiles from the surface. [Clarke, 2004, pp 188-89] He adds, “not only did they use surface ships—they brought additional ones in, because every captain wants to be able to say he fired the cruise missile.” [New Yorker, 7/28/03] As a result, the ISI (or bin Laden sympathizers within) had many hours to alert bin Laden. Clarke says he believes that “if the [ISI] wanted to capture bin Laden or tell us where he was, they could have done so with little effort. They did not cooperate with us because ISI saw al-Qaeda as helpful in pressuring India, particularly in Kashmir.” [Clarke, 2004, pp 188-89] In 1999 the US will intercept communications suggesting that Hamid Gul, ISI Director in the early 1990's, played a role in forewarning the Taliban about the missile strike which may even had predated the firing of the cruise missiles (see July 1999).
People and organizations involved: Jehangir Karamat, Pakistan Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence, Osama bin Laden, Richard A. Clarke, Joseph Ralston, Hamid Gul, al-Qaeda, Taliban
          

December 5, 1998: Unocal Abandons Afghan Pipeline Project      Complete 911 Timeline

       Unocal announces it is withdrawing from the CentGas pipeline consortium, and closing three of its four offices in Central Asia. President Clinton refuses to extend diplomatic recognition to the Taliban, making business there legally problematic. A concern that Clinton will lose support among women voters for upholding the Taliban plays a role in the cancellation. [New York Times, 12/5/98]
People and organizations involved: Energy Information Agency, William Jefferson ("Bill") Clinton, Unocal, Taliban
          

July 1999: Ex-ISI Head Is Providing Taliban Information on US Missile Launches      Complete 911 Timeline

      
Hamid Gul.
The US gains information that former ISI head Hamid Gul contacts Taliban leaders at this time and advises them that the US is not planning to attack Afghanistan to get bin Laden. He assures them that he will provide them three or four hours warning of any future US missile launch, as he did “last time.” Counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke later suggests Gul gave al-Qaeda warning about the missile strike in August 1998. [New Yorker, 7/28/03]
People and organizations involved: Osama bin Laden, Taliban, Hamid Gul, al-Qaeda, Richard A. Clarke
          

July 4, 1999: Executive Order Issued Against Taliban      Complete 911 Timeline

       With the chances of a pipeline deal with the Taliban looking increasingly unlikely, President Clinton finally issues an executive order prohibiting commercial transactions with the Taliban. The order also freezes the Taliban's US assets. Clinton blames the Taliban for harboring bin Laden. [Executive Order, 7/4/99; CNN, 7/6/99]
People and organizations involved: William Jefferson ("Bill") Clinton, Taliban, Osama bin Laden
          

November 14, 1999: Limited UN Sanctions on Afghanistan      Complete 911 Timeline

       United Nations sanctions against Afghanistan take effect. The sanctions freeze Taliban assets and impose an air embargo on Ariana Airlines in an effort to force the Taliban to hand over bin Laden. [BBC, 2/6/00] However, Ariana keeps its illegal trade network flying, until stricter sanctions ground it in 2001.
People and organizations involved: Taliban, Osama bin Laden, Ariana Airlines, United Nations
          

Early December 1999: US Takes Action to Stop al-Qaeda Millennium Bombing Plot      Complete 911 Timeline

       The CIA learns from the Jordanian government about an al-Qaeda millennium bombing plot. Counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke is told of this, and he implements a plan to neutralize the threat. [Clarke, 2004, pp 205, 211] The plan, approved by President Clinton, focuses on harassing and disrupting al-Qaeda members throughout the world. The FBI is put on heightened alert, counterterrorism teams are dispatched overseas, a formal ultimatum is given to the Taliban to keep al-Qaeda under control, and friendly intelligence agencies are asked to help. There are Cabinet-level meetings nearly every day dealing with terrorism [Associated Press, 6/28/02; Washington Post, 4/20/00] All US embassies, military bases, police departments, and other agencies are given a warning to be on the lookout for signs of an al-Qaeda millennium attack. One alert border agent responds by arresting terrorist Ahmed Ressam (see December 14, 1999), which leads to the unraveling of several bombing plots (see December 14-31, 1999). No terror attacks occur. However, Clarke claims the FBI generally remains unhelpful. For example, around this time the FBI says there are no websites in the US soliciting volunteers for training in Afghanistan or money for terrorist front groups. Clarke has a private citizen check to see if this is true, and within days, he is given a long list of such websites. The FBI and Justice Department apparently fail to do anything with the information. [Newsweek, 3/31/04 (B)]
People and organizations involved: Federal Bureau of Investigation, Taliban, al-Qaeda, Ahmed Ressam, Central Intelligence Agency, Jordan, Richard A. Clarke, US Department of Justice, William Jefferson ("Bill") Clinton
          

July 2000: Taliban Bans Poppy Growing      Complete 911 Timeline

       In response to Western pressure, the Taliban bans poppy growing in Afghanistan. As a result, the opium yield drops dramatically in 2001, from 3,656 tons to 185 tons. Of that, 83 percent is from Northern Alliance-controlled lands. However, the effect isn't that great because there is a surplus in the West, and it is believed the Taliban have a large stockpile as well. [Observer, 11/25/01; Reuters, 3/3/02; Guardian, 2/21/02]
People and organizations involved: Northern Alliance, Taliban
          

November 2000: Taliban Allegedly Offers to Hand bin Laden to US Officials      Complete 911 Timeline

      
Kabir Mohabbat.
In 1999, Kabir Mohabbat, an Afghan-American businessman, had initiated conversations about bin Laden between the US government and the Taliban. According to Mohabbat, the Taliban were ready to hand bin Laden over to a third country, or the International Court of Justice, in exchange for having the US-led sanctions against Afghanistan lifted. (Elmar Brok, a German member of the European Parliament, later confirms that he helps Mohabbat make contact with the US government in 1999.) The initial talks lead to a secret meeting this month between Taliban ministers and US officials in a Frankfurt hotel. Taliban Foreign Minister Wakil Ahmed Muttawakil reportedly says in the meeting, “You can have him whenever the Americans are ready. Name us a country and we will extradite him.” However, after this face-to-face meeting, further discussions are never held because, Brok believes, a “political decision” has been made by US officials not to continue the negotiations. He does not clarify when he believes such a decision was made. [Reuters, 6/5/04 Sources: Elmar Brok]
People and organizations involved: Central Intelligence Agency, Osama bin Laden, Taliban, Kabir Mohabbat, Ahmed
          

January 19, 2001: UN Sanctions on Taliban Do Not Stop Illegal Trade Network      Complete 911 Timeline

       New United Nations sanctions against Afghanistan take effect, adding to those from November 1999. The sanctions limit travel by senior Taliban authorities, freeze bin Laden's and the Taliban's assets, and order the closure of Ariana Airlines offices abroad. The sanctions also impose an arms embargo against the Taliban, but not against Northern Alliance forces battling the Taliban. [Associated Press, 12/19/00] The arms embargo has no visible effect because the sanctions fail to stop Pakistani military assistance. [9/11 Commission Report, 3/24/04] The sanctions also fail to stop the illegal trade network that the Taliban is secretly running through Ariana. Two companies, Air Cess and Flying Dolphin, take over most of Ariana's traffic. Air Cess is owned by the Russian arms dealer Victor Bout, and Flying Dolphin is owned by the United Arab Emirates' former ambassador to the US, who is also an associate of Bout. In late 2000, despite reports linking Flying Dolphin to arms smuggling, the United Nations gives Flying Dolphin permission to take over Ariana's closed routes, which it does until the new sanctions take effect. Bout's operations are still functioning and he has not been arrested. [Los Angeles Times, 1/20/02; Montreal Gazette, 2/5/02] Ariana is essentially destroyed in the October 2001 US bombing of Afghanistan. [Los Angeles Times, 11/18/01]
People and organizations involved: Ariana Airlines, Air Cess, Osama bin Laden, Victor Bout, Taliban, Flying Dolphin, Northern Alliance, United Nations
          

March 1, 2001: Taliban Blow Up Giant Buddha Statues, Disregard International Opinion      Complete 911 Timeline

       The Taliban begins blowing up two giant stone Buddhas of Bamiyan (ancient statues carved into an Afghan mountainside, which are considered priceless treasures). They face great international condemnation in response, but no longer seem to be courting international recognition. Apparently, even ISI efforts to dissuade them fail. [Time, 8/4/02; Time, 8/4/02]
People and organizations involved: Taliban
          

March 15, 2001: India, Iran, Russia, and US Work in Concert to Remove Taliban      Complete 911 Timeline

       Jane's Intelligence Review reports that the US is working with India, Iran, and Russia “in a concerted front against Afghanistan's Taliban regime.” India is supplying the Northern Alliance with military equipment, advisers, and helicopter technicians and both India and Russia are using bases in Tajikistan and Uzbekistan for their operation. [Jane's Intelligence Review, 3/15/01]
People and organizations involved: Russia, Tajikistan, Northern Alliance, Taliban, India, Iran, Uzbekistan
          

May 2001: US Gives Taliban Millions      Complete 911 Timeline

       Secretary of State Powell announces that the US is granting $43 million in aid to the Taliban government, purportedly to assist hungry farmers who are starving since the destruction of their opium crop occurred in January on orders of the Taliban. [Los Angeles Times, 5/22/01] This follows $113 million given by the US in 2000 for humanitarian aid. [State Department Fact Sheet, 12/11/01] A Newsday editorial notes that the Taliban “are a decidedly odd choice for an outright gift ... Why are we sending these people money—so much that Washington is, in effect, the biggest donor of aid to the Taliban regime?” [Newsday, 5/29/01]
People and organizations involved: Taliban, Colin Powell
          

Early June 2001: Extensive ISI Support for Taliban Continues      Complete 911 Timeline

       UPI reporters visiting Taliban leader Mullah Omar note, “Saudi Arabia and the [United Arab Emirates] secretly fund the Taliban government by paying Pakistan for its logistical support to Afghanistan. Despite Pakistan's official denials, the Taliban is entirely dependent on Pakistani aid. This was verified on the ground by UPI. Everything from bottled water to oil, gasoline and aviation fuel, and from telephone equipment to military supplies, comes from Pakistan.” [UPI, 6/14/01]
People and organizations involved: Pakistan Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence, Mullah Omar, Taliban, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates
          

July 21, 2001: US Official Threatens Possible Military Action Against Taliban by October if Pipeline Is Not Pursued      Complete 911 Timeline

      
Niaz Naik.
Three former American officials, Tom Simons (former US Ambassador to Pakistan), Karl Inderfurth (former Deputy Secretary of State for South Asian Affairs), and Lee Coldren (former State Department expert on South Asia) meet with Pakistani and Russian intelligence officers in a Berlin hotel. [Salon, 8/16/02] This is the third of a series of back-channel conferences called “brainstorming on Afghanistan.” Taliban representatives sat in on previous meetings, but boycotted this one due to worsening tensions. However, the Pakistani ISI relays information from the meeting to the Taliban. [Guardian, 9/22/01] At the meeting, Coldren passes on a message from Bush officials. He later says, “I think there was some discussion of the fact that the United States was so disgusted with the Taliban that they might be considering some military action.” [Guardian, 9/26/01] Accounts vary, but former Pakistani Foreign Secretary Niaz Naik later says he is told by senior American officials at the meeting that military action to overthrow the Taliban in Afghanistan is planned to “take place before the snows started falling in Afghanistan, by the middle of October at the latest.” The goal is to kill or capture both bin Laden and Taliban leader Mullah Omar, topple the Taliban regime, and install a transitional government of moderate Afghans in its place. Uzbekistan and Russia would also participate. Naik also says, “It was doubtful that Washington would drop its plan even if bin Laden were to be surrendered immediately by the Taliban.” [BBC, 9/18/01] One specific threat made at this meeting is that the Taliban can choose between “carpets of bombs” —an invasion—or “carpets of gold” — the pipeline. [Brisard, Dasquie and Madsen, 2002, pp 43] Naik contends that Tom Simons made the “carpets” statement. Simons claims, “It's possible that a mischievous American participant, after several drinks, may have thought it smart to evoke gold carpets and carpet bombs. Even Americans can't resist the temptation to be mischievous.” Naik and the other American participants deny that the pipeline was an issue at the meeting. [Salon, 8/16/02]
People and organizations involved: Tom Simons, Bush administration, Taliban, Niaz Naik, Osama bin Laden, Russia, Karl Inderfurth, Lee Coldren, Pakistan Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence, Uzbekistan, Mullah Omar
          

August 2, 2001: US Official Secretly Meets Taliban Ambassador in Last Attempt to Secure Pipeline Deal      Complete 911 Timeline

       Christina Rocca, Director of Asian Affairs at the State Department, secretly meets the Taliban ambassador in Islamabad, apparently in a last ditch attempt to secure a pipeline deal. Rocca was previously in charge of contacts with Islamic guerrilla groups at the CIA, and oversaw the delivery of Stinger missiles to Afghan mujahedeen in the 1980s. [Brisard, Dasquie and Madsen, 2002, pp 45; Salon, 2/8/02; Irish Times, 11/19/01]
People and organizations involved: Taliban, Christina Rocca
          

Mid-August 2001: Afghan Leader Organizes Taliban Resistance Without US Support      Complete 911 Timeline

       Abdul Haq, a famous Afghan leader of the mujahedeen, returns to Peshawar, Pakistan, from the US. Having failed to gain US support, except for that of some private individuals such as former National Security Adviser Robert McFarlane, Haq begins organizing subversive operations in Afghanistan. [Los Angeles Times, 10/28/01 (B); Wall Street Journal, 11/2/01] He is later killed entering Afghanistan in October 2001, after his position is reportedly betrayed to the Taliban by the ISI.
People and organizations involved: Abdul Haq, Taliban, Robert C. McFarlane, Pakistan Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence
          

August 28-30, 2001: US Politicians Visit Pakistan and Discuss bin Laden      Complete 911 Timeline

       Senator Bob Graham (D), Representative Porter Goss (R), and Senator Jon Kyl (R) travel to Pakistan and meet with President Musharraf. They reportedly discuss various security issues, including the possible extradition of bin Laden. They also meet with Abdul Salam Zaeef, the Taliban ambassador to Pakistan. Zaeef apparently tells them that the Taliban wants to solve the issue of bin Laden through negotiations with the US. Pakistan says it wants to stay out of the bin Laden issue. [Agence France-Presse, 8/28/01; Salon, 9/14/01]
People and organizations involved: Bob Graham, Porter J. Goss, Jon Kyl, Pervez Musharraf, Osama bin Laden, Abdul Salam Zaeef, Taliban
          

August 30, 2001: Osama Reportedly Named Commander of Afghanistan Army      Complete 911 Timeline

       It is reported in Russia and Pakistan that the Taliban has named bin Laden commander of the Afghanistan army. [UPI, 8/30/01]
People and organizations involved: Osama bin Laden, Taliban
          

September 9, 2001: Northern Alliance Leader Massoud Is Assassinated in Anticipation of 9/11 Attack      Complete 911 Timeline

       General Ahmed Shah Massoud, the leader of Afghanistan's Northern Alliance, is assassinated by two al-Qaeda agents posing as Moroccan journalists. [Time, 8/4/02] A legendary mujahedeen commander and a brilliant tactician, Massoud had pledged to bring freedom and democracy to Afghanistan. The BBC says the next day, “General Massoud's death might well have meant the end of the [Northern] alliance” because there clearly was no figure with his skills and popularity to replace him. [BBC, 9/10/01; BBC, 9/10/01 (B)] “With Massoud out of the way, the Taliban and al-Qaeda would be rid of their most effective opponent and be in a stronger position to resist the American onslaught.” [St. Petersburg Times, 9/9/02] It appears the assassination was supposed to happen earlier: the “journalists” waited for three weeks in Northern Alliance territory to meet Massoud. Finally on September 8, an aide says they “were so worried and excitable they were begging us.” They were granted an interview after threatening to leave if the interview did not happen in the next 24 hours. Meanwhile, the Taliban army (together with elements of the Pakistani army) had massed for an offensive against the Northern Alliance in the previous weeks, but the offensive began only hours after the assassination. Massoud was killed that day but Northern Alliance leaders pretend for several days that Massoud was only injured in order to keep the Northern Alliance army's morale up, and they are able to stave off total defeat. The timing of the assassination and the actions of the Taliban army suggest that the 9/11 attacks were known to the Taliban leadership. [Time, 8/4/02] Though it is not widely reported, the Northern Alliance releases a statement the next day: “Ahmed Shah Massoud was the target of an assassination attempt organized by the Pakistani [intelligence service] ISI and Osama bin Laden.” [Radio Free Europe, 9/10/01; Newsday, 9/15/01; Reuters, 10/4/01] This suggests that the ISI may also have had prior knowledge of the attack plans.
People and organizations involved: Pakistan Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence, Northern Alliance, Osama bin Laden, al-Qaeda, Taliban, Ahmed Shah Massoud
          

September 16, 2001: Taliban Said to Agree to All US Demands in a Secret Meeting      Complete 911 Timeline

       A secret meeting takes place between Taliban and US government representatives in the city of Quetta, Pakistan. Afghan-American businessman Kabir Mohabbat serves as a middleman. US officials deny the meeting takes place, but later in the month Mohabbat explains that the US demands the Taliban hand over bin Laden, extradite foreign members of al-Qaeda who are wanted in their home countries, and shut down bin Laden's bases and camps. Mohabbat claims that the Taliban agrees to meet all the demands. However, some days later he is told the US position has changed and the Taliban must surrender or be killed. Later in the month, the Taliban again agrees to hand over bin Laden unconditionally, but the US replies that “the train had moved.” [Counterpunch, 11/1/04; CBS, 9/25/01]
People and organizations involved: Osama bin Laden, al-Qaeda, Kabir Mohabbat, Taliban, Bush administration
          

Late September-November 2001: Pakistani ISI Aids Taliban Against US      Complete 911 Timeline

       The ISI secretly assists the Taliban in its defense against a US-led attack. Between three and five ISI officers give military advice to the Taliban in late September. [Daily Telegraph, 10/10/01] At least five key ISI operatives help the Taliban prepare defenses in Kandahar, yet none are punished for their activities. [Time, 5/6/02] Secret advisers begin to withdraw in early October, but some stay on into November. [Knight Ridder, 11/3/01] Large convoys of rifles, ammunition, and rocket-propelled grenade launchers for Taliban fighters cross the border from Pakistan into Afghanistan on October 8 and 12, just after US bombing of Afghanistan begins and after a supposed crackdown on ISI fundamentalists. The Pakistani ISI secretly gives safe passage to these convoys, despite having promised the US in September that such assistance would immediately stop. [New York Times, 12/8/01] Secret ISI convoys of weapons and nonlethal supplies continue into November. [UPI, 11/1/01; Time, 5/6/02] An anonymous Western diplomat later states, “We did not fully understand the significance of Pakistan's role in propping up the Taliban until their guys withdrew and things went to hell fast for the Talibs.” [New York Times, 12/8/01]
People and organizations involved: Taliban, Pakistan Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence
          

October 7, 2001: US Begins Bombing in Afghanistan      Complete 911 Timeline

      
The Afghan village of Darya Khanah is bombed on October 27, 2001.
The US begins bombing Afghanistan in the first strike of its “war on terror.” [MSNBC, 11/01] Most documentary evidence suggests the US was not planning this bombing before 9/11. However, former Pakistani Foreign Secretary Niaz Naik has claimed that in July 2001 senior US officials told him that a military action to overthrow the Taliban in Afghanistan would, as the BBC put it, “take place before the snows started falling in Afghanistan, by the middle of October at the latest.” [BBC, 9/18/01]
People and organizations involved: Taliban, Niaz Naik, United States
          

October 8, 2001: Ex-CIA Director's Meeting With Taliban Leader Is Called Off      Complete 911 Timeline, Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       Ex-CIA Director James Woolsey, as part of his attempt to gather evidence that could tie Iraq to the 9/11 attacks, contacts the Taliban. He works with Mansour Ijaz, a US businessman of Pakistani origin, who is a lobbyist for Pakistan in the US, an occasional Fox News commentator, and has extensive political ties in the US. Woolsey is also vice-chairman of the board of Ijaz's company. Woolsey and Ijaz work with Khalid Khawaja, a friend of bin Laden and ex-ISI operative. The three plus an unnamed US journalist arrange to meet with Taliban leader Mullah Omar in Kandahar, Afghanistan, on October 8. The Taliban agree to tell Woolsey about a meeting between Iraqi and al-Qaeda officials that took place in 1997, and possibly other similar information. Apparently in return they hope to avert the US invasion of Afghanistan. However, the US bombing begins on October 7, and the meeting is called off. [Dawn, 02/15/02; Financial Times, 3/6/03] At least part of this team will later play another behind-the-scenes role. After being given a tip that Mansour Ijaz is connected to leading militant Muslims in Pakistan, reporter Daniel Pearl will connect with Khalid Khawaja, who in turn connects him with militant Muslims who kidnap and eventually kill him. A leading Pakistani newspaper claims that at one point Newsweek is about to accuse Khawaja of involvement in the plot to kidnap Pearl, but Ijaz vouches for Khawaja and convinces Newsweek to pull back their accusations. [Dawn, 02/15/02; Vanity Fair, 8/02]
People and organizations involved: James Woolsey, Khalid Khawaja, Mansour Ijaz, Taliban, Mullah Omar, al-Qaeda, Iraq, Daniel Pearl
          

October 25, 2001: Afghan Resistance Leader Killed      Complete 911 Timeline

      
Abdul Haq.
Abdul Haq, a leader of the Afghan resistance to the Taliban, is killed. According to some reports, he “seemed the ideal candidate to lead an opposition alliance into Afghanistan to oust the ruling Taliban.” [Observer, 10/28/01] Four days earlier, he had secretly entered Afghanistan with a small force to try to raise rebellion, but was spotted by Taliban forces and surrounded. He calls former National Security Adviser Robert McFarlane (who had supported him in the past) who then calls the CIA and asks for immediate assistance to rescue Haq. A battle lasting up to twelve hours ensues. (The CIA had previously rejected Haq's requests for weapons to fight the Taliban, and so his force is grossly underarmed.) [Sydney Morning Herald, 10/29/01] The CIA refuses to send in a helicopter to rescue him, alleging that the terrain is too rough, even though Haq's group is next to a hilltop once used as a helicopter landing point. [Observer, 10/28/01; Los Angeles Times, 10/28/01 (B)] An unmanned surveillance aircraft eventually attacks some of the Taliban forces fighting Haq, but not until five hours after Haq has been captured. The Taliban executes him. [Wall Street Journal, 11/2/01] Vincent Cannistraro, a former CIA director of counterterrorism, and others suggest that Haq's position was betrayed to the Taliban by the ISI. Haq was already an enemy of the ISI, which may have killed his family. [Knight Ridder, 11/3/01; Toronto Star, 11/5/01; USA Today, 10/31/01; Village Voice, 10/26/01]
People and organizations involved: Taliban, Abdul Haq, Pakistan Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence, Central Intelligence Agency, Robert C. McFarlane, Vincent Cannistraro
          

November 9, 2001: The Taliban Loses Control of Northern Afghanistan      Complete 911 Timeline

       The Taliban abandon the strategic northern Afghan city of Mazar-i-Sharif, allowing the Northern Alliance to take control. [Associated Press, 8/19/02] The Taliban abandons the rest of Northern Afghanistan in the next few days, except the city of Kunduz, where most of the Taliban flee. Kunduz falls on November 25, but not before most of the thousands of fighters there are airlifted out. [New Yorker, 1/21/02]
People and organizations involved: Northern Alliance, Taliban
          

November 13, 2001: Kabul Falls to Northern Alliance; Rest of Country Soon Follows      Complete 911 Timeline

       Kabul, Afghanistan's capital, falls to the Northern Alliance. The Taliban will abandon the rest of the country over the next few weeks. [BBC, 11/13/01] As The New Yorker reports, “The initial American aim in Afghanistan had been not to eliminate the Taliban's presence there entirely but to undermine the regime and al-Qaeda while leaving intact so-called moderate Taliban elements that would play a role in a new postwar government. This would insure that Pakistan would not end up with a regime on its border dominated by the Northern Alliance.” The surprisingly quick fall of Kabul ruins this plan. [New Yorker, 1/21/02]
People and organizations involved: Taliban, al-Qaeda, Northern Alliance, Bush administration
          

November 14-November 25, 2001: US Secretly Authorizes Airlift of Pakistani and Taliban Fighters      Complete 911 Timeline

      
The main routes al-Qaeda and the Taliban escape US and Nothern Alliance forces.
At the request of the Pakistani government, the US secretly allows rescue flights into the besieged Taliban stronghold of Kunduz, in Northern Afghanistan, to save Pakistanis fighting for the Taliban (and against US forces) and bring them back to Pakistan. Pakistan's President “Musharraf won American support for the airlift by warning that the humiliation of losing hundreds—and perhaps thousands—of Pakistani Army men and intelligence operatives would jeopardize his political survival.” [New Yorker, 1/21/02] Dozens of senior Pakistani military officers, including two generals, are flown out. [PBS Now with Bill Moyers, 2/21/03] In addition, it is reported that the Pakistani government assists 50 trucks filled with foreign fighters to escape the town. [New York Times, 11/24/01] Many news articles at the time suggest an airlift is occurring. [BBC, 11/26/01; Independent, 11/26/01; New York Times, 11/24/01; Independent, 11/16/01; Guardian, 11/27/01; MSNBC, 11/29/01] Significant media coverage fails to develop, however. The US and Pakistani governments deny the existence of the airlift. [State Department, 11/16/01; New Yorker, 1/21/02] On December 2, when asked to assure that the US did not allow such an airlift, Rumsfeld says, “Oh, you can be certain of that. We have not seen a single—to my knowledge, we have not seen a single airplane or helicopter go into Afghanistan in recent days or weeks and extract people and take them out of Afghanistan to any country, let alone Pakistan.” [MSNBC, 12/2/01] Reporter Seymour Hersh believes that Rumsfeld must have given approval for the airlift. [PBS Now with Bill Moyers, 2/21/03] However, The New Yorker magazine reports, “What was supposed to be a limited evacuation apparently slipped out of control and, as an unintended consequence, an unknown number of Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters managed to join in the exodus.” A CIA analyst says, “Many of the people they spirited away were in the Taliban leadership” who Pakistan wanted for future political negotiations. US intelligence was “supposed to have access to them, but it didn't happen,” he says. According to Indian intelligence, airlifts grow particularly intense in the last three days before the city falls on November 25. Of the 8,000 remaining al-Qaeda, Pakistani, and Taliban, about 5,000 are airlifted out and 3,000 surrender. [New Yorker, 1/21/02] Hersh later claims that “maybe even some of bin Laden's immediate family were flown out on those evacuations.” [PBS Now with Bill Moyers, 2/21/03]
People and organizations involved: Taliban, Taliban, Pakistan, al-Qaeda, Donald Rumsfeld
          

November 16, 2001: Al-Qaeda, Taliban Leaders Reportedly Escape Afghanistan      Complete 911 Timeline

       According to Newsweek, approximately 600 al-Qaeda and Taliban fighters, including many senior leaders, escape Afghanistan on this day. There are two main routes out of the Tora Bora cave complex to Pakistan. The US bombed only one route, so the 600 escaped without being attacked using the other route. Hundreds continue to use the escape route for weeks, generally unbothered by US bombing or Pakistani border guards. US officials later privately admit they lost an excellent opportunity to close a trap. [Newsweek, 8/11/02 (B)] On the same day, the media reports that the US is studying routes bin Laden might use to escape Tora Bora [Los Angeles Times, 11/16/01] , but the one escape route is not closed, and apparently bin Laden and others escape into Pakistan using this route several weeks later (see November 28, 2001). High-ranking British officers will later privately complain, “American commanders had vetoed a proposal to guard the high-altitude trails, arguing that the risks of a firefight, in deep snow, gusting winds, and low-slung clouds, were too high.” [New York Times, 9/30/02 (B)]
People and organizations involved: Taliban, al-Qaeda
          

November 25, 2001: US Troops Arrive in Kandahar amid Talk of a Secret Deal      Complete 911 Timeline

       US troops land near the Taliban stronghold of Kandahar, Afghanistan. [Associated Press, 8/19/02] Apparently, as the noose tightens around Kandahar, new Afghanistan head Hamid Karzai makes a deal with the Taliban, giving them a general amnesty in return for surrender of the city. Taliban's leader Mullah Omar is allowed to escape “with dignity” as part of the deal. However, the US says it will not abide by the deal and Karzai then says he will not let Omar go free after all. Taliban forces begin surrendering on December 7. [Sydney Morning Herald, 12/8/01] Omar escapes.
People and organizations involved: Taliban, Hamid Karzai, Mullah Omar
          

Early December 2001: Battle for Tora Bora Is Called Charade      Complete 911 Timeline

       The Daily Telegraph later reports on the battle for Tora Bora around this time: “In retrospect, and with the benefit of dozens of accounts from the participants, the battle for Tora Bora looks more like a grand charade.” Eyewitnesses express shock that the US pinned in Taliban and al-Qaeda forces, thought to contain many high leaders, on three sides only, leaving the route to Pakistan open. An intelligence chief in Afghanistan's new government says, “The border with Pakistan was the key, but no one paid any attention to it. In addition, there were plenty of landing areas for helicopters had the Americans acted decisively. Al-Qaeda escaped right out from under their feet.” [Daily Telegraph, 2/23/02] It is believed that up to 2,000 were in the area when the battle began. The vast majority successfully flee, and only 21 al-Qaeda fighters are finally captured. [Christian Science Monitor, 3/4/02 (B)] The US relies on local forces “whose loyalty and enthusiasm were suspect from the start” to do most of the fighting. [Knight Ridder, 10/20/02] Some of the local commanders drafted to help the US had ties to bin Laden going back to the 1980s. [New York Times, 9/30/02 (B)] These forces actually help al-Qaeda escape. An Afghan intelligence officer says he is astounded that Pentagon planners did not consider the most obvious exit routes and put down light US infantry to block them. It is later widely believed that bin Laden escapes along one of these routes on November 30 or December 1, walking out with about four loyal followers. [Christian Science Monitor, 3/4/02; Christian Science Monitor, 3/4/02 (B)] Al-Qaeda's number two leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, also escapes the area. [Knight Ridder, 10/20/02]
People and organizations involved: al-Qaeda, Taliban, Osama bin Laden, US Department of Defense, Ayman al-Zawahiri
          

December 17, 2001: Northern Alliance Declares Victory at Tora Bora; Afghan War Considered Over      Complete 911 Timeline

       Northern Alliance forces declare that the battle of Tora Bora, with a ground assault begun on December 5, has been won. The Afghan war is widely considered finished. However, in retrospect, many consider the battle a failure because most of the enemy escapes, and the Taliban will later regroup. [Christian Science Monitor, 3/4/02 (B)]
People and organizations involved: Northern Alliance, Taliban
          

December 24, 2001: Taliban Free, Living in Luxury      Complete 911 Timeline

       The Guardian reports that many in Afghanistan intelligence say former top Taliban officials are living openly in villas in Afghanistan and Pakistan. At least four top leaders who had been caught have been simply released. One intelligence source claims to know the exact location of many, and says they could be rounded up within hours. A former Taliban minister now working with the Northern Alliance also claims: “Some are living in luxury in fine houses, they are not hiding in holes. They could be in jail by tonight if the political will existed.” The US claims it is working hard to find and catch these leaders. [Guardian, 12/24/01]
People and organizations involved: Bush administration, Taliban
          

January 6, 2002: Mullah Omar Escapes Capture by US Military      Complete 911 Timeline

      
Taliban leader Mullah Omar, blind in one eye.
The US allegedly locates former Taliban leader Mullah Omar and 1,500 of his soldiers in the remote village of Baghran, Afghanistan. After a six-day siege, and surrounded by US helicopters and troops, Omar and four bodyguards supposedly escape the dragnet in a daring chase on motorcycles over dirt roads. His soldiers are set free in return for giving up their weapons, in a deal brokered by local leaders. Yet it remains unclear if Omar was ever in the village in the first place. [Observer, 1/6/02]
People and organizations involved: Mullah Omar, Taliban
          

March 17, 2002      Torture in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere

       US troops raid a compound in Sangesar, a village close to Kandahar, and arrest more than thirty anti-Taliban fighters, presumably by mistake. Taken to Kandahar, they are “thrown down,” face first, onto the ground, by US soldiers. One detainee later recalls: “They picked me up and threw me down on the rocks. It was painful. I couldn't rest on my chest. When I moved they kicked me.” Another says he is held by the feet and head and kicked in the back repeatedly. [Associated Press, 3/23/2002 cited in Human Rights Watch, 2004]
People and organizations involved: Taliban, Human Rights Watch
          

August 15, 2002: Relatives File Lawsuit Against Alleged Saudi al-Qaeda Financiers      Complete 911 Timeline

      
Deena Burnett, wife of Flight 93 passenger Tom Burnett, speaks on behalf of the victims' relatives suing the Saudis.
More than 600 relatives of victims of the 9/11 attacks file a 15-count, $1 trillion lawsuit against various parties they accuse of financing al-Qaeda and Afghanistan's former Taliban regime. (The number of plaintiffs will increase to 2,500. Up to 10,000 were eligible to join this suit. [Newsweek, 9/13/02] ) The defendants include the Saudi Binladin Group (the company run by Osama bin Laden's family), seven international banks, eight Islamic foundations and charities, individual financiers, three Saudi princes, and the government of Sudan. [CNN, 8/15/02; Washington Post, 8/16/02] Individuals named include Saudi Defense Minister Prince Sultan, former Saudi intelligence chief Prince Turki al-Faisal, Yassin al-Qadi, and Khalid bin Mahfouz (Mahfouz denies supporting terrorism and has filed a motion to dismiss the complaint). [Associated Press, 8/15/02; MSNBC, 8/25/02] “The attorneys and investigators were able to obtain, through French intelligence, the translation of a secretly recorded meeting between representatives of bin Laden and three Saudi princes in which they sought to pay him hush money to keep him from attacking their enterprises in Saudi Arabia.” [CNN, 8/15/02] The plaintiffs also accuse the US government of failing to pursue such institutions thoroughly enough because of lucrative oil interests. [BBC, 8/15/02] Ron Motley, the lead lawyer in the suit, says the case is being aided by intelligence services from France and four other foreign governments, but no help has come from the Justice Department. [Minneapolis Star-Tribune, 8/16/02] The plaintiffs acknowledge the chance of ever winning any money is slim, but hope the lawsuit will help bring to light the role of Saudi Arabia in the 9/11 attacks. [BBC, 8/15/02] A number of rich Saudis respond by threatening to withdraw hundreds of billions of dollars in US investments if the lawsuit goes forward. [Daily Telegraph, 8/20/02]
People and organizations involved: Khalid bin Mahfouz, Osama bin Laden, Yassin al-Qadi, Turki bin Faisal bin Abdul Aziz al Saud, US Department of Justice, Ron Motley, Taliban, Sultan bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud, United States, Sudan, Saudi Binladin Group, al-Qaeda
          

March 10, 2003: Dubious Arrest Video Raises Question of Mohammed-ISI Connection      Complete 911 Timeline

       One week after the purported arrest of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed in Pakistan, the ISI show what they claim is a video of the capture. It is openly mocked as a bad forgery by the few reporters allowed to see it. [Reuters, 3/11/03; Daily Times, 3/13/03; PakNews, 3/11/03; ABC News, 3/11/03] For instance, a Fox News reporter says, “Foreign journalists looking at it laughed and said this is baloney, this is a reconstruction.” [Fox News, 3/10/03] Other information about the arrest also raises questions about his relationship with the ISI. At the time of Mohammed's alleged arrest, he was staying in a neighborhood filled with ISI officials, just a short distance from ISI headquarters, leading to suspicions that he'd been doing so with ISI approval. One expert notes that after his arrest, “Those who think they have ISI protection will stop feeling that comfort level.” [Australian Broadcasting Corp., 3/2/03] Journalist Robert Fisk reports, “Mohammed was an ISI asset; indeed, anyone who is ‘handed over’ by the ISI these days is almost certainly a former (or present) employee of the Pakistani agency whose control of Taliban operatives amazed even the Pakistani government during the years before 2001.” [Toronto Star, 3/3/03]
People and organizations involved: Taliban, Pakistan Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence
          

March 7, 2004      Torture in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere

       At Guantanamo, shortly before their release, Jamal Udeen, Tarek Dergoul, and the Tipton Three are asked to sign a document confessing to having links with al-Qaeda and the Taliban. Iqbal remembers: “It was along the lines that I was a member of the Taliban and al-Qaeda, however I have since changed. In other words I had changed my mind since I was detained at Guantanamo Bay. It went on to say that if I was suspected of anything at any time by the United States, I could be picked up and returned to Guantanamo Bay.” He is told that signing the document is a precondition for going back to the UK. “I didn't really believe him,” Iqbal later says, and so he refused to sign. [Sources: Composite statement by Shafiq Rasul, Asif Iqbal and Rhuhel Ahmed: Detention in Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay, 7/26/2004] Jamal Udeen also has a confession statement presented to him by a British official. “This was given to me first by the Americans and then by a British diplomat who asked if I agreed to sign it. I just said ‘No.’ I would rather have stayed in Guantanamo than sign that paper.” [The Mirror, 3/12/2004]
People and organizations involved: Taliban, Rhuhel Ahmed, Asif Iqbal, Shafiq Rasul, Tarek Dergoul, al-Qaeda, Jamal Udeen
          

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