October 7, 2001 – News reports – various – President Bush Address – Gordon Skene Sound Collection –
October 7, 2001 – Twenty years ago today and three weeks after the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center, American and British forces began what would become a twenty year odyssey in Afghanistan.
Dubbed “Operation Enduring Freedom” in U.S. military parlance, the invasion of Afghanistan was intended to target terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaeda organization, which was based in the country, as well as the extreme fundamentalist Taliban government that had ruled most of the country since 1996 and supported and protected al-Qaeda.
The Taliban, which had imposed its extremist version of Islam on the entire country, also perpetrated countless human rights abuses against its people, especially women, girls and ethnic Hazaras. During their rule, large numbers of Afghans lived in utter poverty, and as many as 4 million Afghans are thought to have suffered from starvation.
In the weeks prior to the invasion, both the United States and the U.N. Security Council had demanded that the Taliban turn over Osama bin Laden for prosecution. After deeming the Taliban’s counteroffers unsatisfactory—among them to try bin Laden in an Islamic court—the invasion began with an aerial bombardment of Taliban and al-Qaeda installations in Kabul, Kandahar, Jalalabad, Konduz and Mazar-e-Sharif. Other coalition planes flew in airdrops of humanitarian supplies for Afghan civilians. The Taliban called the actions “an attack on Islam.”
The first strikes began about 8:45 p.m. Sunday (12:15 p.m. EDT) and targeted the Taliban’s air defense installations, defense ministry, airport-based command centers, airfields, electrical grids and other energy production facilities.
U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said about 15 land-based bombers, 25 strike aircraft and U.S. and British ships and submarines fired about 50 Tomahawk missiles against terrorist targets.
There was no immediate news on damage assessment. The Pentagon was expected to use spy planes and surveillance satellites to help gauge the success of its first night of bombing.
And so it started – and 20 years later it ended. Between, there were many questions that didn’t get answered.
Such is history.
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