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The September 11th Sourcebooks
Volume VII: The Taliban File

National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book No. 97

Edited by Sajit Gandhi

September 11, 2003

Taliban File Updates
March 19, 2004
Pakistan Provided Millions of Dollars, Arms, and "Buses Full of Adolescent Mujahid" to the Taliban in the 1990's
 January 30, 2004
U.S. Pressed Taliban to Expel Usama bin Laden Over 30 Times; Only Three Approaches in First Year of Bush Administration
The September 11th Sourcebooks - Index
Volume I: Terrorism and U.S. Policy
Volume II: Afghanistan: Lessons from the Last War
Volume III: BIOWAR: The Nixon Administration's Decision to End U.S. Biological Warfare Programs
Volume IV: The Once and Future King?: From the Secret Files on King Zahir's Reign, 1970-1973
Volume V: Anthrax at Sverdlovsk, 1979: U.S. Intelligence on the Deadliest Modern Outbreak
Volume VI: The Hunt for Bin Laden: Background on the Role of Special Forces in U.S. Strategy
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Washington, D.C., September 11, 2003 - Marking the second anniversary of the terrorist attacks of 9/11, the National Security Archive at George Washington University today posted on the Web a new collection of recently declassified U.S. documents covering the controversial rise to power of Osama bin Laden's former hosts in Afghanistan, the Taliban. This murky history has particular relevance today, as the Taliban fighters regroup in Afghanistan, and key Taliban leaders remain at large.

Today's posting, "The Taliban File," is the seventh volume in the Archive's September 11th Sourcebook series, recognized by the National Journal in December 2001 as one of the top five sites on the Web for terrorism information. The collection of 32 documents obtained through the U.S. Freedom of Information Act by Archive research associate Sajit Gandhi details the rise of the Taliban from its meager start in Kandahar to a full fledged military force and ultimate control of the country. The documents discuss Pakistan's support for the Taliban, U.S. dealings with the Taliban, post 9/11 thinking on military strategy in the War on Terror, and the relationship between the assassination of the Northern Alliance Commander Ahmad Shah Masoud and the terrorist attacks of September 11.

Highlights of the Briefing Book include:

  • A November 1994 cable from the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad which mentions one of the first kidnappings conducted by Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, the self-confessed mastermind of the kidnapping of slain American reporter Daniel Pearl. Sheikh, who in 1994 went by the moniker Rohit Sharma, kidnapped one American-Bella Josef Nuss--and three British citizens. The document indicates that Sheikh (Sharma), "holds a British Passport, attended the London School of Economics, and spent time in Bosnia where the abuse of Muslim women apparently radicalized his views." In January of 2002, eight years after the 1994 kidnapping, the Bush administration finally asked Pakistan to arrest Saeed Sheikh[2].
  • A February 1995 cable from the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad which offers a detailed biographic sketch of the secretive Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar, the Amir-ul-Momineen (leader of the faithful), from his origins in the Mujahideen to his rise as the leader of the Taliban. [8]
  • A December 1997 Department of State cable summarizing a meeting between Taliban officials in the US as part of a Unocal delegation and Assistant Secretary of State for South Asia Karl Inderfurth. When the Taliban are questioned by Inderfurth over their allowing Osama Bin Laden refuge, a Taliban representative responds by saying that if they expelled Bin Laden he would go to Iran and cause more trouble. Another representative notes that the Taliban did not invite Bin Laden into Afghanistan, but that he was already inside Afghanistan, "as a guest of the previous regime when they took over." The Taliban representative claims that they had stopped allowing Bin Laden to give public interviews, and "had frustrated Iranian and Iraqi attempts to get in contact with him." [24]
  • DIA cables from October 2001 which discuss the role of Pakistan in the rise of the Taliban and questions about Pakistan's and the ISI's connection with Bin Laden. "Bin Laden's al-Qaeda network was able to expand under the safe sanctuary extended by Taliban following Pakistan Directives." [Documents 28 and 29]
  • A November 2001 DIA cable that discusses the relationship between the assassination of Northern Alliance Commander Ahmad Shah Masoud and the terrorist attacks of September 11. The cable indicates that Masoud had gained limited knowledge "regarding the intentions of the Saudi millionaire Usama (bin Ladin) (UBL), and his terrorist organization, al-Qaida, to perform a terrorist act against the U.S. on a scale larger than the 1998 bombing of the U.S. Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania." Could Masood's knowledge of an attack, and subsequent warning to the US government have led to his assassination? [31]

Formed in 1994, the Taliban began with only a few followers, mostly religious students who fought with the Mujahideen in the war against the Soviets and who were schooled in Islamic seminaries (madrasahs) in Pakistan. These students, or seekers, as they are referred to in the documents, wanted to rid Afghanistan of the instability, violence, and warlordism that had been plaguing the country since the defeat and withdrawal of the Soviets in 1989.

The departure of the Soviets, while welcomed by Afghans and the United States, left a political vacuum in Afghanistan. The resulting chaos and civil war led to the involvement of the United Nations which tried unsuccessfully to bring about political transition through the mission led by Special Representative Mahmoud Mestiri. Despite the UN's efforts, and those of the international community, the various factions, as well as the Kabul government led by Barnahuddin Rabbani and Ahmad Shah Masoud, in addition to other outside parties, made a definitive peaceful or military solution difficult.

As a result, the civil war continued with Rabbani and Masoud attempting to fill the government role, while the other warlord remnants of the Afghan resistance, such as the Uzbek commander Abdul Rashid Dostum, Pakistani-backed Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, and Ismail Khan, remained unwilling to cede any power or make concessions that could have resulted in a peaceful solution.

Consequently, outside forces saw instability in Afghanistan as an opportunity to press their own security and political agendas. Among them were terrorist groups such as Osama Bin Laden's al-Qaeda network and states such as Pakistan, Iran, Russia, and India. Pakistan, for example, saw an unstable Afghanistan as a boon for its internal security, allowing it a strategic depth against India. Initially, [See document 25] the Pakistanis supported the Pashtun-Islamicist Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, an incompetent commander from the Mujahideen days, in order to have influence over the Afghan political landscape. When Hekmatyar failed to deliver for Pakistan, the administration began to support a new movement of religious students known as the Taliban.

The first document dates from November 1994, one month after the Taliban took the strategic post of Spin Boldak on the Afghan-Pakistan border, allegedly with cover fire provided by Pakistani Frontier Corps (see document 5). With that victory, the Taliban, who were being championed by a fellow Pashtun, Pakistani Interior Minister Nasrullah Babar (see document 4), began to make a name for themselves, and also gained a significant amount of military supplies. Pakistan supported the Taliban, not just to restore order to Afghan roads, which would open the way for a possible Trans-Afghan gas pipeline (TAP), but because they also saw the Taliban as a faction that they might have considerable influence over, and who might provide in Afghanistan, a strategic lever for Pakistan against India.

As the documents and history show, Pakistani authorities discovered they had made a blunder. The Taliban were not only uncontrollable, but unpredictable as well. In certain instances the Taliban would declare their desire for peace, willingness to work with the UN, and desire for a non-military solution for Afghanistan, then state that "anyone who gets in our way will be crushed."

The documents also show that the U.S. made tremendous efforts to obtain a political solution for Afghanistan, not just because of the desire for American companies to take advantage of business opportunities (see document 16) with the TAP, but also due to other key concerns: human rights, narcotics, and terrorism (see document 17). In many instances, American officials pressed the Taliban on their counternarcotics strategy, their treatment of women, and on allowing Afghanistan to be used as a base for terrorist operations and home for Osama Bin Laden.

The cable traffic shows the difficulty the U.S. had negotiating with Taliban representatives in all these areas. Cultural and political miscommunication was rampant (see document 18). In one meeting, Ambassador Thomas W. Simons Jr., the U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan -who also had responsibility for Afghanistan- attempted to find common ground with Taliban Foreign Minister Mullah Ghaus, explaining that "Americans are the most religious people in the Western world."

It soon became clear that Taliban rule was detrimental to Afghan and international security, as evidenced by their sanctioning of continuing narcotics production -despite its un-Islamic quality- and shelter for al-Qaeda and other terrorists. Acting Secretary Strobe Talbott described the danger of the Taliban in a February 1996 meeting with Pakistani Foreign Minister Assef Ali when he drew an analogy between Pakistani support for the Taliban in Afghanistan and the militants in Indian-controlled Kashmir. Talbott stated that while such support was undertaken to serve Pakistani interests, there were unintended consequences contrary to Pakistan's and the region's larger interests. These consequences became shockingly clear two years ago, on September 11, 2001.




Note: The following documents are in PDF format.
You will need to download and install the free Adobe Acrobat Reader to view.
Document 1
U.S. Consulate (Peshawar) Cable, "New Fighting and New Forces in Kandahar," November 3, 1994, Confidential, 13 pp. Excised.
Source: Freedom of Information Act Release to the National Security Archive.

While Consular officials inform Washington of a stranded Pakistani convoy delivering aid supplies to Afghanistan and the Newly Independent States (NIS), they report that fighting has broken out between Afghan factions in Kandahar province. One of the parties involved was a new movement known as "The Taliban ("Seekers")," which had recently taken over the Afghan border town of Spin Boldak, and hailed from the Madrasas (religious schools) of Quetta and Peshawar. Speculation is rife about who the Mullah Mohammed Omar-led Taliban actually support and where their support comes from, but suggests that the Taliban may represent a new phenomenon independent from the party politics and violence plaguing Afghanistan since the end of the war against the Soviets. The document displays the contrasting information available on the Taliban movement as the label suggests the Taliban was anti-Wahhabi, while simultaneously being Pakistani tools and anti-Pakistan.

Document 2
U.S. Department of State, Cable, "Weekly South Asia Activity Report," November 4, 1994, Confidential, 13 pp.
Source: Freedom of Information Act Release to the National Security Archive.

This activity report discusses various developments occurring in South Asia including the rising tide of Afghan refugees fleeing Kabul for outerlying areas, progress of the UN (Mestiri) Commission in Afghanistan, the battle for the stranded Pakistan convoy headed towards Central Asia, and most interestingly, mentions the debriefing of British kidnapping victims who identified their captor as "Rohit Sharma." Mr. Sharma, the note states, holds a British passport, attended the London School of Economics, and spent time in Bosnia where the abuse of Muslim women radicalized his views. This 1994 document is significant because Rohit Sharma is also known as Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, the self-confessed mastermind of the kidnapping of slain American reporter, Daniel Pearl. In January of 2002, eight years after the kidnapping, the Bush administration finally asked Pakistan to arrest Omar Saeed Sheikh in connection with the 1994 incident discussed above.

Document 3
U.S. Embassy (Islamabad), Cable, "The Taliban - Who Knows What the Movement Means?" November 28, 1994, Confidential, 14 pp.
Source: Freedom of Information Act Release to the National Security Archive.

This cable discusses the suspected origins, goals, and sponsors of the Taliban movement, a group that at this point, controls most of Kandahar province. Delving into the various deals that the Taliban was conducting to get into power, it indicates that the Afghan government, led by President Barnahuddin Rabbani and Ahmad Shah Masoud, is worried by the rapid growth and popularity of the Taliban. The Taliban hold "out hope for war-weary Afghans disgusted with the failure of national-level leaders to compromise and the failure of local commanders to establish local security."

Document 4
U.S. Department of State, Memorandum, "Developments in Afghanistan," December 5, 1994, Classification Unknown, 1 pp.
Source: Freedom of Information Act Release to the National Security Archive.

This memo to the State Department's Afghanistan Desk shows concern over the Government of Pakistan's now-notorious Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate's (ISI) involvement in the Taliban's recent takeover of Kandahar. At the bottom of the memo, a handwritten note states, "This AM I've heard that General Babar is running this Taliban op." General Nasrullah Babar was the Pakistani Interior Minister, and also a Pashtun.

Document 5
U.S. Embassy (Islamabad), Cable, "[Excised]Believe Pakistan is Backing Taliban," December 6, 1994, Secret, 3pp.
Source: Freedom of Information Act Release to the National Security Archive.

This cable conveys the observations of a source who believes that the Taliban are being directly supported by Pakistan, the principal patron being none other than General Babar. According to this source, Pakistani frontier corps provided artillery cover for the Taliban's September seizure of the Spin Boldak arms dump.

Document 6
U.S. Embassy (Islamabad), Cable, "The Taliban: What We've Heard," January 26, 1995, Secret, 10 pp.
Source: Freedom of Information Act Release to the National Security Archive.

Relaying the observations of recent visitors to Kandahar, this cable suggests that the Taliban are well armed, militarily proficient, and eager to expand their influence in order to end the banditry of small militias and to invoke Sharia law. According to the cable, this Taliban influence has resulted in women being ordered to stay in the home, and prohibiting male doctors from treating female patients. 

Document 7
U.S. Embassy (Islamabad), Cable, "Meeting with the Taliban in Kandahar: More Questions than Answers," February 15, 1995, Confidential, 7 pp.
Source: Freedom of Information Act Release to the National Security Archive.

The U.S. Embassy in Islamabad reports on the Taliban's plan for the future. They want to take over Kabul, disarm rival commanders, and install one government across Afghanistan. This document also shows the beginnings of the Taliban double-talk with Western governments. In one instance, the Taliban indicate their desire to bring peace back to Afghanistan, but also say that "anyone who gets in our way will be crushed." Financial support to the Taliban and drug policy are also discussed.

Document 8
U.S. Embassy (Islamabad), Cable, "Finally, A Talkative Talib: Origins and Membership of the Religious Students' Movement," February 20, 1995, Confidential, 15 pp.
Source: Freedom of Information Act Release to the National Security Archive.

This cable, relying on a Talib source, offers an in-depth sketch of Mullah Mohammed Omar, the leader of the Taliban, as well as the creation and organization of the Taliban. The source attempts to dispel the notion that the Taliban is backed by a foreign patron, interestingly noting that the "movement sought good relations with the Islamic countries, but did not like Saudi Arabia's efforts to interfere in Afghan religious matters. Similarly, the Pakistan Government's desire to interfere in internal affairs, and the efforts of ISI to treat Afghanistan like another province are not appreciated." The source noted at the close of the conversation that, "like the lease of Hong Kong," the Durand Accord is about to expire amid renewed calls for an independent Pashtunistan.

Document 9
U.S. Embassy (Dushanbe), Cable, "Rabbani Emissary States Rabbani Will Not Surrender Power to Interim Council Until Taliban Join," February 21, 1995, Confidential, 9 pp.
Source: Freedom of Information Act Release to the National Security Archive.

During a meeting between Embassy officials and Afghan President Rabbani's Economic Advisor, Ashraf Shah, the latter summarizes events in Afghanistan, including the Taliban's taking-over of Charasiab, Maydan Shahr, and Chowk-i-Wardak, as well as the Ghazni-Kabul Road. Shah wanted U.S. advice but stated that the Government would probably not surrender power to an Interim Council until the Taliban agreed to join the council.

Document 10
U.S. Embassy (Islamabad), Cable, "Afghanistan: Taliban Take Shindand Air Base; Herat Threatened - Will Iran Intervene," September 4, 1995, Confidential, 6 pp.
Source: Freedom of Information Act Release to the National Security Archive.

The U.S. Embassy in Pakistan closely monitored development in the continuing Afghan civil war. The cable reports that the Taliban have seized the strategic Shindand Air Base, previously controlled by Ismail Khan, and are now moving towards the city of Herat. It also discusses possible Iranian reactions to the Taliban threat. 

Document 11
U.S. Embassy (Islamabad), Cable, "Afghanistan: Heavy fighting Rages West of Kabul; Herat Calm After Taliban Take-Over," September 6, 1995, Confidential, 6 pp.
Source: Freedom of Information Act Release to the National Security Archive.

This document captures the Taliban's drive to victory as well as sentiments about their impending rule. The Taliban have taken over Herat forcing Ismail Khan along with 300-600 of his followers into Iran. Hekmatyar's forces are continuing to be attacked by Masoud and government troops. The cable also alerts Washington to news that an angry crowd of demonstrators has recently converged upon and set fire to the Pakistani Embassy in Kabul, allegedly in response to Pakistan's support for the Taliban and its role in the fall of Herat.

Document 12
U.S. Embassy (Islamabad), Cable, "Eyewitness to the Fall of Herat Says Taliban are Winning Hearts and Minds - For Now," February 18, 1995, Confidential, 11 pp.
Source: Freedom of Information Act Release to the National Security Archive.

This document describes the ongoing civil war in Afghanistan through the observations of an American citizen who witnessed the fall of Herat. The American, while faulting Ismail Khan for his political and military ineptitude, states that "the Taliban, in contrast, were extremely well organized, well-financed, and exhibited strong discipline."

Document 13
U.S. Department of State, Cable, "Pak Foreign Minister Asks U.S. Cooperation on Afghanistan," February 21, 1996, Confidential, 6 pp.
Source: Freedom of Information Act Release to the National Security Archive.

During meetings with Pakistani Foreign Minister Assef Ali, Acting Secretary of State Strobe Talbott argues that Pakistani support for the "Islamicist Taliban movement" is forcing Moscow and Tehran to continue providing aid to Rabbani and Masoud. While sharing concern over increased outside interference, Afghan instability, drugs, and export of terrorism, Talbott suggests that Pakistan reestablish a more visible policy of neutrality before the two governments can act together in Afghanistan.

In a significant closing, Talbott "drew an analogy between Pakistani support for the Taliban in Afghanistan and the militants in Indian controlled Kashmir. While such support was undertaken to serve Pakistani interests, there were unintended consequences contrary to Pakistan's and the region's larger interests. Ultimately such groups could not be controlled and indulged in actions such as the kidnapping of foreigners in Kashmir."

Document 14
U.S. Embassy (Islamabad), Cable, "Senator Brown and Congressman Wilson Discuss Afghanistan with Pakistani Officials," April 14, 1996, Confidential, 4 pp.
Source: Freedom of Information Act Release to the National Security Archive.

On April 14, 1996, Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto met with Senator Hank Brown (R-CO) and Congressman Charlie Wilson (D-TX). Bhutto stressed the need for the Trans-Afghan gas pipeline in order to meet the "growing Pakistani demand for oil/gas, provide an outlet for the Central Asian Republics (CAR) other than via Iran and Russia, and encourage efforts towards [Afghan] national reconciliation." She also takes this opportunity to tell the Americans that the perception that "her government was backing the Taliban was simply untrue."

Document 15
U.S. Embassy (Islamabad), Cable, "A/S Raphel Discusses Afghanistan," April 22, 1996 Confidential, 7 pp.
Source: Freedom of Information Act Release to the National Security Archive.

Assistant Secretary of State for South Asia Robin Raphel travels to the region for discussions with representatives of the Government of Pakistan, the Kabul government, and Taliban officials.

The record of one meeting suggests that the top Pakistani leadership recognizes that its support for the Taliban has backfired. Pakistani General Jehangir Karamat refers to the Taliban as "A millstone around our necks," while Prime Minister Bhutto emphasizes that Pakistan is not providing military support to the Taliban and insisted that only minimal, non-lethal aid was being provided. Raphel's meetings with Kabul officials emphasized Rabbani and Masood's perception of themselves as the legitimate government of Afghanistan. They blame Pakistan and the Taliban for all of their problems, and Masoud goes as far as to say that, "Pakistan is as much to blame for the destruction of Afghanistan as the Soviets." Taliban officials take a soft approach, asking Raphel to help improve their image on human rights, while indicating their desire for the UN process to work stating that, "If the U.N. fails, then we have failed." The cable closes with commentary suggesting that growing insecurity within the Taliban and the Kabul regime, complemented by Pakistan's apparent willingness to engage more positively, has created an opportunity for a reinvigorated U.N. mission to move toward Afghan reconciliation.

Document 16
U.S. Embassy (Moscow), Cable, "A/S Raphel Consultations with Deputy FM Chernyshev," May 13, 1996, Confidential, 6 pp.
Source: Freedom of Information Act Release to the National Security Archive.

This cable describes Raphel's meets with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Albert Chernyshev which are devoted mostly to Afghanistan. Raphel indicates a growing desire in Washington to resolve the Afghan conflict. "In addition to our traditional concerns - restoring regional political stability, interdicting narcotics, and relieving human suffering -- the USG now hopes that peace in the region will facilitate U.S. business interests like the proposed Unocal Gas pipeline from Turkmenistan through Afghanistan to Pakistan." Raphel proposes an arms embargo to Afghanistan, and the Russians, while emphasizing their continued support for the Mestiri (U.N.) Mission, deny they are giving arms to any faction.

Document 17
U.S. Department of State, Cable, "Dealing with the Taliban in Kabul," September 28, 1996, Confidential, 6 pp.
Source: Freedom of Information Act Release to the National Security Archive.

Following the takeover of Kabul by the Taliban, the State Department instructed the U.S. Embassy in Pakistan to gather information on the Taliban as well as send messages to the organization. This cable indicates that the U.S. wishes to "engage the new Taliban interim government at an early stage to: Demonstrate USG willingness to deal with them as the new authorities in Kabul, seek information about their plans, programs and policies, and express USG views on areas of key concern to US stability, human rights, narcotics, and terrorism." Some of these talking points show the desire of the U.S to locate "ex-Saudi financier and radical Islamist Osama Bin Laden."

Document 18
U.S. Embassy (Islamabad), Cable, "Afghanistan: Taliban Official Says that Relations with Russia and Iran "Tense," September 29, 1997, Confidential, 10 pp.
Source: Freedom of Information Act Release to the National Security Archive.

Following the Taliban takeover of Kabul, Mullah Abdul Jalil indicates in a conversation with a U.S. Embassy political officer that relations with Russia and Iran are tense. Jalil also indicates that the Taliban have no idea of the whereabouts of Osama Bin Laden, or any other "Arabs" flushed from terrorist training camps during the Taliban takeover, but that they are seeking Commander Masoud.

Document 19
U.S. Embassy (Islamabad), Cable, "Ambassador Meets Taliban: We are the People," November 12, 1996, Confidential, 17 pp.
Source: Freedom of Information Act Release to the National Security Archive.

This cable describes a meeting between U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan Thomas W. Simons Jr. and the Taliban's "Acting Foreign Minister," Mullah Ghaus, on 11 November. Their discussions of the Afghan conflict began with Mullah Ghaus stating that "Thanks to God and help from its friends -including the United States-the Afghan resistance was able to defeat the Soviet Union and its allies." Ghaus continued by stating that peace that was to occur after the removal of the Soviets never arrived because of a "conspiracy of the communists, selfishness of resistance leaders, and foreign interference," blaming "interference by Russia, Iran, and India" in the affairs of Afghanistan as the main cause of the ongoing war. Ambassador Simons, in efforts to stop the tide of miscommunication and start on an equal footing with the pious Talib, attempted to explain American religiosity by stating that Americans are "the most religious people in the western world," and at the same time "have learned that it is very hard to discern the will of God." While the two men agree that a negotiated settlement is best, this document reveals some of difficultites in communication that existed between the USG and the Taliban.

Document 20
U.S. Department of State, Cable, "Afghanistan: Taliban Rep Won't Seek UN Seat For Now," December 13, 1996, Confidential, 6 pp.
Source: Freedom of Information Act Release to the National Security Archive.

American officials met with a Taliban representative who suggested that the Taliban and Afghanistan want USG influence and encouragement, instead of the Iranian, Pakistani, or Russian influence and money that is being pressed upon them. One of the U.S. officials responds that the US has "neither funds nor the inclination to back any group," and that it does not want to distort the political process. According to the source, the Taliban were divided internally into three groups, "Pashtun chauvinists," "religious ones who believe that Allah will deliver the entire country to them," and "the moderates who understand the Taliban needs to reach out to the other ethnic/religious groups." The source also indicated that Pakistani support for the Taliban was extensive, coming mainly from the ISI, and included cash, supplies, on the ground military/intelligence advisers, and even the drafting of letters for the Taliban.

Document 21
U.S. Embassy (Islamabad), Cable, "Scenesetter for Your Visit to Islamabad: Afghan Angle," January 16, 1997, Confidential, 6 pp.
Source: Freedom of Information Act Release to the National Security Archive.

Ambassador Simons assessed the situation in Afghanistan for Assistant Secretary Raphel, prior to her visit to the region. He praised the Taliban for their ability to restore order to Kandahar, where the Taliban are almost revered, but tells Raphel that the Taliban are viewed as occupiers in Herat and Kabul. Simons tells Raphel that the Taliban feel slighted by the U.N. and International NGO's and also that Pakistani assistance for the Taliban is pushing Iran, and probably Russia and India are aiding Masoud and Rabbani. The Scenesetter ends with bullet points outlining U.S. policy interests ranging from a peace process, counterterrorism including the request to "give up or expel Usama Bin Ladin," counternarcotics, humanitarian issues, and gas and oil pipelines.

Document 22
U.S. Embassy (Islamabad), Cable, "Afghanistan: GOP denies Pakistani Involvement in Fighting; Taliban Reportedly Enlisting Supporters in Frontier Areas," June 4, 1997, Confidential, 4 pp.
Source: Freedom of Information Act Release to the National Security Archive.
This cable summarizes a conversation between an American political officer in Islamabad and Pakistani Afghan Desk Officer Naeem Khan, and another conversation wtih Abdul Wahab, the First Secretary at the Taliban-controlled Afghan Embassy in Islamabad. During their conversation, Khan insisted that Pakistan does not militarily aid the Taliban, while admitting to giving the Taliban only diplomatic support. Wahab too denied official Pakistani support, yet admitted that the Taliban does receive support (manpower) from the tribal areas in Pakistan's North West Frontier Province.
Document 23
U.S. Embassy (Islamabad), Cable, "Afghanistan: Observers Report Uptick in Support for Anti-Taliban Factions by Iran," July 7, 1997, Confidential, 10 pp.
Source: Freedom of Information Act Release to the National Security Archive.

This cable relays information about Iranian military and political support for anti-Taliban factions. State Department source believes Iran's moves are a strategic reaction to the Taliban's efforts to gain control of the north, while Pakistani representatives see Iran's moves as purely aggressive.

Document 24
Department of State, Cable, "Afghanistan: Meeting with the Taliban," December 11, 1997, Confidential, 13 pp.
Source: Freedom of Information Act Release to the National Security Archive.

On December 8, 1997 Taliban officials, who were in the US under the auspices of Unocal, met with Assistant Secretary of State for South Asia Karl Inderfurth in Washington D.C. The Taliban officials seek improved relations and American assistance to fund crop substitution programs. Inderfurth welcomes cooperation in this area and also queries the Taliban on their gender policies and terrorism. Taliban officials replied that their gender policies reflect Afghan tradition, and pledged to prevent terrorists from using Afghanistan to launch attacks on others. While arguing that the Taliban did not invite Bin Laden into Afghanistan, Taliban officials claim they stopped allowing him to give public interviews and "frustrated Iranian and Iraqi attempts to get in contact with him."

Document 25
U.S. Consulate (Peshawar), Cable, "Afghanistan: A Report of Pakistani Military Assistance to the Taliban," March 24, 1998, Confidential, 3pp.
Source: Freedom of Information Act Release to the National Security Archive.

This cable relays a recent incident of alleged Pakistani military assistance to the Taliban. The incident, while not confirmed, involved 25 large Mercedes Benz trucks full of Pakistani fighters being delivered to Kabul airport for transport to Kunduz in order to assist the Taliban.

Document 26
Department of State (Washington), Cable, "Afghanistan: Taliban Convene Ulema, Iran and Bin Ladin on the Agenda," September 25, 1998, Confidential, 5 pp.
Source: Freedom of Information Act Release to the National Security Archive.

According to State Department information, the upcoming Ulema, or meeting of religious scholars, to be conducted by the Taliban will discuss Iran and Osama Bin Laden's presence in Afghanistan. The Department's source sees a divide in Taliban ranks over Bin Laden's presence in Afghanistan, but also suggests the Ulema will only reiterate what Mullah Omar has already said on Bin Laden, that he is a guest of the Taliban, and that he has not been proved to be involved in any bombings.

Document 27
Defense Intelligence Agency, Defense Intelligence Assessment, "Usama Bin Ladin/ Al-Qaida Information Operations," September 1999, Top Secret, 15 pp.
Source: Freedom of Information Act Release to the National Security Archive.

This heavily excised Intelligence Assessment shows small portions of a document that will hopefully one day be released in full. The released portions discuss among other things, callback services for people residing in a foreign country, the INMARSAT-M Telephone, the Taliban website, the Islamic Gateway Organization, and a Bin Laden chronology.

Document 28
Defense Intelligence Agency, Cable, "IIR [Excised]/Veteran Afghanistan Traveler's Analysis of Al Qaeda and Taliban Exploitable Weaknesses," October 2, 2001, Secret, 10 pp.
Source: Freedom of Information Act Release to the National Security Archive.

This DIA report discusses the current status of the Taliban and al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, and strategy for the impending American-led war against them. The source believes that forces must learn to think outside of the box, rid themselves of the Western mindset, and focus on human intelligence. The cable elucidates the ISI's connection with Bin Laden by noting that "Bin Laden's al-Qaeda network was able to expand under the safe sanctuary extended by Taliban following Pakistan Directives."

Document 29
Defense Intelligence Agency, Cable, "IIR [Excised]/Veteran Afghanistan Traveler's Analysis of Al Qaeda and Taliban Military, Political and Cultural Landscape and its Weaknesses," October 2, 2001, Secret, 7 pp.
Source: Freedom of Information Act Release to the National Security Archive.

This summary details recent events in Afghanistan and the role of Pakistan in supporting the Taliban movement. It describes how Pakistan preferred to groom incompetent commanders such as Gulbuddin Hekmatyar for leadership positions in Afghanistan who would then be reliant upon Pakistan. The failure of supporting Hekmatyar, which "effectively saw the lebanonization of Afghanistan," caused the Pakistanis to introduce the Taliban. The account notes that "Pakistan has lost every war it has ever fought." The cable also notes that "it must be a deeply troubling period for General (Musharraf) in Pakistan, who is asked to help hunt down the culprits that he helped to establish," and ends with a summary of the al-Qaeda agenda, the Pakistani agenda, and the death of Ahmad Shah Masoud in the context of the downing of the twin towers.

Document 30
Department of Defense, Cable, [Title Excised,] October 4, 2001, Confidential, 5 pp.
Source: Freedom of Information Act Release to the National Security Archive.

Reflecting the change in Pakistan's policy after 9/11, a DIA source discusses Pakistan and Musharraf's support for the international fight against terrorism. The source suggests that assisting the U.S. "serves Pakistan's self interests," and that Pakistan would like to be recognized and assisted by the U.S. and the rest of the international community for its commitment to the struggle.

Document 31
Defense Intelligence Agency, Cable, "IIR [Excised]/The Assassination of Massoud Related to 11 September 2001 Attack," November 21, 2001, Secret, 5 pp.
Source: Freedom of Information Act Release to the National Security Archive.

DIA asseses the relationship between the assassination of Northern Alliance Commander Ahmad Shah Masoud and the terrorist attacks of September 11. Apparently Masoud had gained limited knowledge "regarding the intentions of the Saudi millionaire Usama (bin Ladin) (UBL), and his terrorist organization, al-Qaida, to perform a terrorist act against the U.S., on a scale larger than the 1998 bombing of the U.S. Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania."

Document 32
Defense Intelligence Agency, Cable, "IIR [Excised] Pakistani Political, Military Situation, and Terrorism Issues," January 9, 2002, Secret, 5 pp.
Source: Freedom of Information Act Release to the National Security Archive.

This cable discusses the political and military situation in Pakistan, including government stability, armed forces capabilities, and terrorism issues in light of the post-September 11 climate.

New Document: State Department Report, "U.S. Engagement with the Taliban on Usama Bin Laden," Secret, Circa July 16, 2001, 9 pp.



Notes

 For useful background on terrorism and the Taliban see:

Byrne, Malcolm and Jeffrey Richelson eds. "Terrorism and U.S. Policy, 1968-2002: From the Dawn of Modern Terrorism to the Hunt for Bin Laden " Chadwyck-Healey/Proquest, 2002.

Cogan, Charles. "Partners in Time: The CIA and Afghanistan since 1979." World Policy Journal. Summer 1993.

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