The Attack on Afghanistan: December, 2001
A few short weeks ago, the Taliban agreed to surrender Kandahar, the southern Afghan city that had been their last major stronghold in the country. The Northern Alliance will now take control of most of the country, with a new temporary government to begin December 22.
A few weeks ago, the Northern Alliance captured Kabul, the country's capital city. The people of Kabul danced to music in the streets, something they couldn't have done two weeks ago. Women walked in public, leaving their long veils at home. Men shaved off their beards. All these things became possible because the Taliban was no longer in control.
Building on their successful of the northern city of Mazar-e-sharif the previous week, the Northern Alliance rolled through northern and western Afghanistan seemingly unchallenged. It was thought that the fight for Kabul would be a difficult one, but the Taliban slipped out of the city without a fight. The struggle for Kunduz was a longer one, but the result was the same. Success there meant that the Northern Alliance controlled most of the country.
The United States and its allies are attacking Afghanistan because Osama bin Laden is thought to be hiding there.
Bin Laden is a known terrorist who is thought to have been the mastermind of the September 11 attacks on America's World Trade Center and Pentagon. More than 5,000 people are thought to be missing or dead as a result of those attacks.
Bin Laden has been living in Afghanistan for several years. During that time, he has operated training camps for terrorists. He has said many times that he wants to keep Western influence out of Muslim countries, and he has said that he is willing to kill many people to make this happen.
In addition, the United States and its allies are supplying aid to the Northern Alliance, an Afghan group that is fighting the Taliban for control of Afghanistan. This struggle is part of a civil war that resulted when the Soviet Union left the country in 1989. The Soviet Union had tried to take over Afghanistan and had fought there for many years.
Many countries have agreed to help destroy Bin Laden's terrorist network in Afghanistan and elsewhere. One way this is being done is that banks and other sources of money have refused to allow withdrawals from Bin Laden and other terrorists. It is hoped that this will make the terrorists run out of money and be unable to keep training and planning attacks.
Also, suspected terrorists are being arrested and held worldwide, as more and more countries become aware that this is not just an American problem.
Click here to see a close-up map of Afghanistan.