Afghanistan History of InvasionHistory
Afghanistan came into being in the 1800s, a "buffer" between India (British), Russia, and China. This is a mostly Muslim, mixed-ethnic place.
Dictators came and went, and corruption was rampant. A revolt in 1978 let to a colalition of rulers being set up. However this new regime was not better than any previous one. The population revolted again against the new regime and there was a massive rebellion. There were tortures and abuses. In Dec 1979 the Russians sent 5,000 troops into Kabul to take out Amin and did so. Soon 100,000 Russian troops were in Afghanistan.
The US supplied arms to the rebels that were against the Russian troops. By 1981 when Reagan was president, both he and the Democratic congress were eager to help the rebels fight back. Osama Bin Laden (born July 30, 1957) was a Saudi wealthy man who joined the rebels, and by 1984 he held a position of power with the rebels.
In 1989 the Russians withdrew. Not much was left to fill that vacuum. By 1996, the Taliban had taken control, with an extremely strict form of Muslim religion. Human Rights groups were furious, but many people were happy that at least the civil war was over and order was being kept. In this same year, Osama was hiding out in Sudan. They expelled him and he returned to Afghanistan.
In 1998, US embassies were bombed and the Taliban were blamed. The UN imposed sanctions, but the Taliban wouldn't hand over Osama as ordered. In fact, in 1998 Osama issued a famous "fatwah" or religious order for all Muslims to kill ALL Americans - including civilians - for being inherently evil. On June 7, 1999, the FBI put Osama on the Top 10 List with a reward of $5 million dollars.
In Oct 2000, bombers attacked the USS Cole in Yemen, and Osama appears to have been behind that. Then came the infamous Sept 11 2001 attack on the US, planned and executed by Osama.
The US attacked Afghanistan on Oct 7 2001 to take down the Taliban regime. Osama fled, and the FBI raised the reward to $25 million. In a famous statement on Oct 30 2001, Donald Rumsfeld said the US had a "modest number" of troops IN Afghanistan, the first time it was said that US troops were on Afghani soil. They were there to help direct air strikes. Soon troops were pouring into Afghanistan. On November 25, 2001, the Taliban officially surrendered. In Dec 2001 Osama was heard on the border of Pakistan, in caves in Tora Bora. At this point the US had around 3,000 troops in Afghanistan. That quickly swelled to 10,000 US troops plus international support. By December 17 2001, the last caves had been searched, and Osama was gone. He had apparently fled over the border into Pakistan. Most other fighting had ceased.
Some say that at this point, with the Taliban taken down and Afghanistan in a state of ruin and needing repair, that the Pakistan government asked the US to back off. Osama was a Middle Eastern Hero to many, and Pakistan felt that an out-and-out attack / killing of Osama right at this moment of great tension would result in riots and reprisals from other nations. The "Operation Enduring Freedom" focussed on maintaining peace in Afghanistan as its priority. But in any case, US troops did keep trying to search the caves. They found soldiers, but not Osama.
A new buildup of militia began in the Paktia province. On March 2, 2002, "Operation Anaconda" was set to clear out this final stronghold of Taliban resistance. This operation was officially over only 16 days later, with success but no Osama. The troops still tried to find him. In late March 2002, the US asked for British Royal Marines, trained in mountain combat, to come help out. 1,700 marines were sent, but they were pulled out in June 2002 because the hunt was deemed pretty much impossible. The territory was too vast to track down anybody who was hiding in it. The US troops kept working at their task, but Osama had set up a network to stay safe. He moved every few days, and had concentric rings up to 150 miles wide of scouts to watch for enemies. Nobody could get close to him.
By Sept 2003 there was only sporatic outbursts of violence. The US had just under 10,000 troops in Afghanistan at this point.
On March 7 2004, President Bush launched Operation Mountain Storm to try to track Osama down. The reward for him was raised to $50 million. At this point troop counts were around 11,000 and were said to be rising. In the meantime, new elections are coming to Afghanistan and an overwhelming majority of Afghan citizens have registered to vote. A new, peaceful way of life is coming to this country.
By September 2004 around 20,000 US troops (and many other foreign troops) were in Afghanistan to help maintain the peace. Colin Powell said that Osama was probably still alive, but in deep hiding.
In May 2011, Osama Bin Laden was killed.
CNN Bin Laden Timeline
UK Guardian on Osama
CBC on Osama
PBS Frontline on Osama
PBS on Initial Troops in Afghanistan
UK Pulls Troops in 2002
CNN on troops in 2003
Operation Mountain Storm
Sept 2004 Powell Statement
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