Thursday, September 11, 2003

The Taliban File

I just posted an Electronic Briefing Book on the website of the National Security Archive. Entitled, the The Taliban File the EBB is a collection fo 32 declassified U.S. government documents discussing U.S. dealings with the Taliban, Pakistan support for the Taliban, the death od Ahmad Shah Masoud and its relation to the September 11 attacks, and post 9/11 thinking on military strategy in the War on Terror. I am pasting the Press Release below.

National Security Archive Update, September 11, 2003

*The Taliban File*

Volume VII of the Archive's September 11th Sourcebooks

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.

* 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.

* 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."

* 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."

* 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?

It would be interesting to see your comments.


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