I personally don’t know when the plan was hatched, but Pakistani ISI clearly understands both their own people and the Afghans.

Likely in the 1992-93 time frame they polished the plan and began to move pieces around the board. The time-tested way to uproot Muslims since the days of Mohammed. Declare a Jihad! You can’t just do it on the spur of the moment these days, there needs to be preparation, charismatic (and somewhat enigmatic) leaders need to emerge from among the people to lend it an air of authenticity. An ISI major general would not do.

The more wretched the emergent a holy man is the better, and somebody who can speak convincingly of dreams he’s had, even if he’s a muttering, stuttering fool undergoing a psychotic breakdown. He’s not the shot caller, he’s only a puppet. Enter Taliban supreme leader, one-eyed Mullah Mohammad Omar.

A Jihad is better if there is some purity attached, so cadre began combing religious schools in Pakistan, madrassas of the same sort that young Barack Hussein Obama attended in Indonesia.

The Madrassas were homes to radical, purely ideological “students” and the word for student is Talib. The movement would be known as the Taliban and would incorporate idealistic students who would use Allah to crush the established Afghan National Army.

Talk of Allah is all well and good, but it had to be backed up with battlefield troops who could blend in, wear rags, and actually take objectives. They’d need to be supported by distant artillery, who nobody would see, rotors and even jets to provide close air support. There would be talk among the peasants who attached themselves to the jihad, firing in the air more than at the enemy, that the aircraft came from heaven, but they launched from Paki air bases… Pakistan has a strong national army and so long as the people who the locals saw were these students, the jihad had a strong possibility of being credible.

Success breeds more success and in 1994, the Paki-Afghan jihad/holy army took the southern Afghan city of Kandahar, promising to restore order and bring greater security. They quickly imposed their harsh interpretation of Islam on the territory they control. What could be more secure than punishing women for slight infractions? Every good Muslim man knows that they’re whores, enticing men – jezebels.

A Taliban fighter guards a road southeast of Kabul in 1995.

There was a lot of local support for stronger and more devout adherence to their brand of Islam.

Despite what you might have expected, the Afghan National Army under Massoud was very effective. Sometimes the Taliban enjoyed success, sometimes the Tajik-led army won.

At the same time that the National Army is facing the Taliban/Pakistani Army in the south,  Abdul Rashid Dostum an Uzbek communist, former Marshal in the Afghan National Army, and founder and leader of the political party Junbish-e Milli decided that the time was right to attack from the north to establish his own kingdom in Kabul.

At this time, Dostum led the Afghan Sixth Corps, located in the northern stronghold of Mazar-i-Sharif, where he ruled, in effect, an independent region (or ‘proto-state’), often referred to as the Northern Autonomous Zone (later the Northern Alliance). He printed his own Afghan currency, ran a small airline named Balkh Air, and formed relations with countries like Uzbekistan effectively creating his own nation with an army of up to 40,000 men, with tanks and money supplied by Uzbekistan and Russia. While the rest of the country was in chaos, his region remained prosperous and functional, and it won him support from people of all ethnic groups. Many people fled to his territory to escape the violence and fundamentalism imposed by the Taliban later on. In 1994, Dostum allied himself with Gulbuddin Hekmatyar against the government of Burhanuddin Rabbani and Ahmad Shah Massoud, but in 1995 sided with the government again

Gulbuddin Hekmatyar is one of the more contemptible people in this drama, changing sides, manipulating chaos and at heart, he was a devout Communist, on everyone’s payroll.

In May 1996, Osama bin Laden arrived as a representative of bin Laden Construction company, co-sponsored by the Red Crescent Society (Islamic Red Cross). The bin Laden family didn’t know what to do with him, OBL had been expelled from Sudan. This was his big chance to redeem himself. You likely know the story, that he was an even purer jihadi with his Wahhabist faith impelling him forward. He made friends while the construction company spent big money, making roads,  he preached, but was not engaged in the fight for Kabul. OBL talked a good game, but he wasn’t a warrior. The closest he came to that was firing his AK-47 in the air in symbolic support for the troops.

Osama bin Laden speaks at a press conference in Khost, Afghanistan, in 1998. — Mazhar Ali Khan/AP

In 1996 at the gates of Kabul, the Taliban arrived to see the Iranian Shiites besieging the city. The Iranians found themselves to be the meat in the sandwich. The Taliban offered a parlay with their leadership, handcuffed them, loaded them into Pakistani helicopters (marked as Taliban), flew them over their own troops, and pushed them out. Their prayers did not overcome gravity.

There was no love for Iran or their Shiite sect/faith among the Paki-Taliban. Once the Iranians surrendered they were all executed and the Taliban took their place in the siege, with Pakistani artillery shelling the city.

The Taliban took Kabul. They captured Najibullah, the former president, from the U.N. compound, killed him and hung his body from a lamppost. The Tajik government (including Massoud) fled north into the Valley of Five Lions.

OBL established his headquarters at Khost, and the Taliban welcomed him as a holy man who brought BIG Saudi cash to buy his way in.

In August 1998, the U.S. launched cruise missile strikes on Khost, Afghanistan, in retaliation for al-Qaida attacks on U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.

(above) To show they’re not whores, the Afghan women wear burqas in Kabul, and go out with make relatives.

In December 1999, an Indian Airlines passenger jet, bound from Kathmandu to New Delhi, was hijacked to Kandahar. The Taliban served as mediators between the hijackers and Indian authorities, who decide to free three terrorists from Indian prisons and hand them over to the hijackers in exchange for the passengers’ safety.

That brings us to September 11, 2001, Ahmad Shah Massoud was assassinated.  After al-Qaida’s Sept. 11 attacks in New York City and Washington, the U.S. demanded that the Taliban hand over bin Laden. They refused. The money kept flowing and the Afghans stayed bought.

There were no Afghan hijackers flying aircraft into the towers or the Pentagon or on Flight 93, but we couldn’t very well take it out on our Saudi allies, could we? So the US packaged a quick invasion of Afghanistan on October 7, 2001 planned and executed by the CIA, supported by US Army Special Forces, and US Air Force B-52’s dropping precision laser-guided bombs.

The US bought the help of the Northern Alliance and with the help of Special Forces and CIA Special Activities Division, the US led force entered Kabul on Nov. 13. They didn’t hold out very long at all.

The Taliban fled south and their government was overthrown. In December, Hamid Karzai (an American puppet) was named interim president after Afghan groups signed the Bonn Agreement on an interim government. Under that agreement, some warlords were named provincial governors, military commanders and cabinet ministers, as were members of the Northern Alliance. The NATO-led International Security Assistance Force was established under a U.N. mandate.

By 2003, then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld signaled an end to “major combat activity” in Afghanistan, saying, “We clearly have moved from major combat activity to a period of stability and stabilization and reconstruction and activities.”

You know the rest. Big Army was brought in to “nation-build” and continue the war as beltway bandits made massive fortunes on the war for the next eighteen years. Then a walking corpse and a whore (and staff) bungled the evacuation and surrender with big help from morons in the Pentagon.


  1. Outstanding!
    This is a rare find: a historically correct depiction of the Taliban’s way to their current position; very well researched and perfectly written. I am very much impressed by your deep knowledge of all the background details and how you brilliantly bring it all together to give us this compact timeline.
    I am waiting impatiently for your next essay.
    Ausspreche Lob und Anerkennung!

    • Ich habe mich persönlich mit der Situation beschäftigt. Es ermöglicht mehr Verständnis.

      My German is rusty, Martin. I spoke it at home as a child but don’t use it often. I traveled to Germany for work circa 2007-8 but have not been there regularly since then.

  2. How the hell does somebody get expelled from the Sudan !?

    That’s like a lifetime toilet-bowl-swimming ban…


  3. Thank you for this. As Martin intones; outstanding. I too eagerly await the following episode.

    Question: Who is that man?
    In the picture of OBL atop the vehicle. Strike a line ~45 degrees off the port quarter of the car, four heads out from the vehicle is a Western looking man. He is balding and wearing aviator sunglasses. Who is he likely to be?

    Nation building
    verb, synonymous with ‘winning hearts and minds’
    ant, don’t mind us, we’re making bank

    • I blew the photo up and had a good look, or as well as I could. Looks like he has European features. If, in saying European, one means American, then I would say he is probably from one of the so-called three letter agencies, not necessarily the one everybody automatically fixates on. There are others out there even lesser known, or even unknown, to the general public, and even more murkier, if one can get more murkier. Having said that, he might be Anglo-Pakistani (what, during the days of the Raj, were referred to as Anglo-Indians) which means his descent would be from a union between a, usually, but not necessarily, British man and an Indian (as they were all then) woman. Many of these people had/have distinctly European features with what, euphemistically, might be termed a light sun tan. Others, on the other hand, obviously look more like the Indian/Pakistani side of their heritage. If that is the case, and he is an Anglo Pakistani, then he is highly likely, though not necessarily, to be from the ISI. I will be interested to see what my good friend Larry’s take is on this.

      • I have had further thoughts, having had a further close look at the photo. With his European features, and his complexion as can best I can determine from the photo, he might also be Israeli. In that case he would probably, but not necessarily, be from the Mossad.

      • In that place and at that time there were a lot of “foreign friends” – Wahabbists mainly but not limited to that sect – circulating through Afghanistan, Baluchistan, and so forth. Red Crescent people were very much in evidence and they came from many locations in the Arab world including TURKEY, which is where I think our “waldo” hails from. The Turks weren’t in OBL’s orbit necessarily but they weren’t his enemies.

        Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM), who is Pakistani, was more of the mechanic behind the 9/11 attacks than OBL was. I’m not discounting the role of OBL at all, but they all played different parts. Even Obama wasn’t dumb enough to release KSM from Gitmo back into the wild.

    • Khost Province is bordered by North Waziristan and Kurram in Pakistan. You can bounce across the border to Pakistan easily from there without a Hindu Kush to cross. The area is very tribal, very ‘backward’ very much the sort of place where a “prophet” such as OBL would be embraced without causing ripples with the national government. It’s part of Loya Paktia (“Greater Paktia”). OBL’s money went further there. Bin Laden construction brought clean water to some areas. At the time of the cruise missile attacks, I think something like 10% of the province had clean water. The joke circulated that “bombing them” back to the stone age was impossible because they’d been living that way since the actual stone age. Don’t take my comments as pejorative or in any way bigoted. I’m just explaining how rural it is there and how OBL could form a foundational base for training radicals without it being apparent to the world at large.

      Obviously, the USA was aware of his activities because we had locations to drop warheads. We didn’t just lob them into Khost City. OBL was a wanted man then and he moved from one place to another place randomly with runners bringing him insulin and other supplies that he wanted.

      OBL was a child of privilege and even though he acted like an ascetic, he liked his goodies.

      • “You can bounce across the border to Pakistan easily from there”

        Couple of weeks ago I was chatting with a friend, who has close blood-kin in Waziristan, about the Afghan pull-out debacle, and the border issue came up. There was a pause, then friend said with obviously forced patience, “OF COURSE people from Pakistan [in context this meant Pashtun from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province] go back and forth to Afghanistan and will pretend to be Afghan nationals if it’s useful. Same thing the other way around. And who would know? We look the same, we dress and talk the same. How not? We’re the same people. The border doesn’t mean anything.”

    • Thanks for that… I think.

      It’s interesting how people like KSM and OBL attracted “freaks” to the cause like lodestones. In the case of OBL it wasn’t just the guy himself, it was the money that he brought, in an area where the annual wage was something like $200.00. Even modest money (combined with Wahabbist purity) bought a lot of love from the local economy.

      • At that time there were two groups in the CIA’s counterterrorism center (not the larger fusion center at CIA). One hunted OBL and one hunted everyone else. Such was the focus on OBL well before the 9/11 attack.

  4. Two thoughts on the Middle East where these people are 7th Century throwbacks where angst is in the DNA:

    1) Any group of control freaks who tent their woman to look like some whacked Halloween costume, are no different than an abusive boyfriend you can’t get away from, and should be flogged.

    2) Any people who embrace Quran’s admonition/directive to “kill all the infidels”, the same dipwads who ghoulishly tent their woman, are to be left to their own devices and kept from our shores…rats in a cage eventually eat themselves.

    Note on #2: Mr. MAGU armed them to the teeth with our military gear and facilities, our agencies require massive diligence to keep them contained over there, anyone who says the Taliban are our friend should be sent to cover the Middle East insanity.

  5. This has been very informative. I had little idea of what went on in Afghanistan in the 1990’s. Essentially, the Paki’s are our enemy too.

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