August 18, 2005 - UPDATE
- The U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan told a top Taliban official
in September 2000 that the U.S. "was
not out to destroy the Taliban," but the "UBL [Osama
bin Laden] issue is supremely important,"
according to declassified documents posted today by the National
Security Archive. The documents, obtained through the Freedom
of Information Act, show how years of U.S. diplomacy with the
Taliban, combined with pressure on Pakistan, and attempts to employ
Saudi cooperation still failed to compel the Taliban to expel
Harboring bin Laden, but hesitant to sever diplomatic ties with
the U.S. completely, the Taliban claimed there was insufficient
evidence to convict bin Laden of terrorism, going so far as to
say that Saddam
Hussein was behind the 1998 U.S. embassy bombings
in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam.
The newly declassified documents also show that State Department
officials rejected Taliban claims that the U.S. supported bin
Laden during the Soviet occupation. U.S. officials clarify that,
although Osama bin Laden may have fought with other U.S.-funded
anti-Soviet resistance groups in Afghanistan, "we
had never heard his name during that period and did not support
him at that time."
September 11, 2004 - Mullah Omar, the Taliban's
supreme leader, initiated a phone call to
Washington - his only known direct contact with U.S.
officials - two days after President Clinton sent cruise missiles
to destroy Osama bin Laden's terrorist training camps in Afghanistan
in 1998, according to newly-obtained documents posted on the Web
by the National Security Archive.
to the documents, obtained through the Freedom of Information
Act, Omar denied knowing of any "evidence that bin Laden
had engaged in or planned any terrorist acts while on Afghan soil."
[Doc 2]. The U.S. State Department responded
by providing evidence of bin Laden's terrorist activities in one
of ultimately thirty-three
contacts with the Taliban, thirty by the Clinton
administration and three by the Bush administration before 9/11.
All diplomatic attempts to get the Taliban to extradite Osama
bin Laden ultimately failed.
In a January 2004 interview with Deputy Secretary of State Richard
Armitage, the 9/11 commission asked "why the State Department
had so long pursued what seemed, and ultimately proved, to be
a hopeless effort to persuade the Taliban regime in Afghanistan
to deport bin Laden[?]" Armitage replied, "We do what
the State Department does, we don't go out and fly bombers, we
don't do things like that[;] … we do our part in
these things." (Note 1)
Highlights of the 16 documents posted today include:
- The only known direct conversation between Taliban supreme
leader Mullah Omar and any U.S. official, on August 22, 1998,
just two days after the U.S. sent cruise missiles into bin Laden
training camps in Afghanistan in retaliation for the attacks
on U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. 
- An August 23, 1998 cable from the U.S. Department of State
following the conversation with Mullah Omar that provided evidence
linking bin Laden with the U.S. Embassy attacks in Africa and
several other terrorist plots, including a plan to blow up U.S.
airliners in the Pacific. 
- Frequent contradictions in Taliban statements to U.S. diplomats.
The Taliban claimed that 80% of their officials and a majority
of Afghans oppose Osama bin Laden's presence, yet also claimed
that the Taliban would be overthrown were they to extradite
bin Laden, due to his popularity in Afghanistan and around the
Muslim world. Mullah Omar called bin Laden "an enemy,"
according to a Pakistani informant, while other Taliban officials
tell the U.S. that Mullah Omar is the primary reason why bin
Laden continued to be afforded sanctuary in Afghanistan, despite
the fact that 80% of Taliban officials opposed his presence
- An October 1998 cable from the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad documenting
statements made by the Taliban Foreign Minister, Maulawi Wakil
Ahmed, that the Taliban "do not support terrorism,"
and that bin Laden was moved to Kandahar "to keep a better
watch on him." In a November 1998 cable from the State
Department, a low-level Taliban official assures the American
ambassador that bin Laden is "now under full Taliban control
and in no position to commit terrorist acts." Taliban reassurances
on terrorism also include claims that they "have always
and will condemn terrorism, including hijacking," according
to a February 2000 State Department cable. 
- A December 1998 cable from the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad demonstrating
that bin Laden promoted further acts of terrorism against the
U.S. In his first interview after the August 20, 1998 missile
strikes, bin Laden reiterated his fatwa (religious ruling) urging
Muslims to kill U.S., U.K., and Israeli citizens and "reserving
the right to use weapons of mass destruction (WMD)." 
- Despite several promises to the U.S. that they would keep
bin Laden away from the media, the Taliban allowed him to be
interviewed "so that he could renounce terrorism,"
according to Taliban representative Syedur Rahman Haqqani. Instead,
bin Laden strongly reiterated his commitment to terrorism against
American citizens and once again claimed the right to use weapons
of mass destruction against Western targets. Despite the fact
that bin Laden "did not do what he promised," the
Taliban did not agree to expel him. 
Note: The following documents
are in PDF format.
You will need to download and install the free Adobe
Acrobat Reader to view.
1 - Islama 01750
U.S. Embassy (Islamabad), Cable, "Afghanistan: Raising Bin
Ladin With the Taliban" Mar 4, 1997, Confidential, 5 pp.
Mullah Ehsanullah Ehsan, an influential member of the Taliban
Inner Shura, communicates his belief to U.S. embassy officials
that the expulsion of Saudi terrorist Osama bin Laden from Afghanistan
is not a solution to the bin Laden "problem." "To
where and how should he be expelled? ... Bin Laden was expelled
from Saudi Arabia to Sudan and from Sudan to Afghanistan."
The Taliban official also suggests that bin Laden did not have
the communications equipment to lead his followers in Saudi
Arabia and that the Taliban did not know where bin Laden was.
If he is "located in areas under our control, we will definitely
impose a ban on his activities."
According to Mullah Ehsan, the real problem is not bin Laden,
but the failure of the U.S. government to recognize the legitimacy
of the Taliban government, which he advised America to do, "If
the U.S. did not want every Afghan to become a bin Laden."
The Taliban representatives furthermore erroneously claim that
bin Laden was invited to Afghanistan by the "enemies of
the Taliban," and was not giving any financial assistance
to the Taliban.
According to The 9/11 Commission Report (p65) and
Ahmed Rashid's Taliban, (p133), bin Laden's 1996 return
to Afghanistan was supported by the Nangarhar Shura in Jalalabad,
a local council of Islamic leaders that was not aligned with
either the Rabbani government in Kabul or the Taliban in Kandahar.
When Jalalabad fell to the Taliban in September 1996 bin Laden
solidified his ties to the Taliban and the relationship grew.
2 - State 154712
U.S. Department of State, Cable, "Afghanistan: Taliban's
Mullah Omar's 8/22 Contact with State Department," August
23, 1998, Confidential, NODIS, 4 pp. [Excised]
Taliban supreme leader Mullah Omar initiates a phone conversation
to the U.S. Department of State, two days after the August 20,
1998 U.S. missile strike on Afghanistan and Sudan in retaliation
for the terrorist attacks on U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.
Mullah Omar speaks with U.S. director for Pakistan, Afghanistan,
and Bangladesh Affairs (SA/PAB Director) Michael E. Malinowski.
This phone call appears to be the only time Mullah Omar has
spoken directly with a U.S. government official. Omar suggests
President Clinton resign in order to restore U.S. popularity
in the Islamic world and asserts the U.S. missile attack will
spread bin Laden's anti-American message by uniting the fundamentalist
Islamic world and will cause further terrorist attacks. He requests
proof that bin Laden was involved in the Africa bombings, claiming
he saw no evidence implicating bin Laden in terrorist activities
since he has been afforded sanctuary in Afghanistan. Omar's
rhetoric mirrors bin Laden's as he criticizes the U.S. for maintaining
a military presence in Saudi Arabia, but Malinowski remarks
that Omar "was in no way threatening." The document
concludes that this unusual communication from the head of the
Taliban "is indicative of the seriousness of how the Tall
Ban [sic] views the U.S. strikes and our anger over bin Laden."
3 - State 154713
U.S. Department of State, Cable, "Message to the Taliban
on Bin Laden," August 23, 1998, Secret, NODIS, 6 pp.
This cable, apparently a response to Mullah Omar's request
for evidence against bin Laden, outlines the justification for
the U.S. military action, the American case against bin Laden,
and grounds for bin Laden's expulsion from Afghanistan by the
Taliban. The document claims the United States has "reliable
intelligence that the bin Laden network has been actively seeking
to acquire weapons of mass destruction - including chemical
weapons - for use against U.S. interests." The document
also notes that bin Laden's network has tried in the past to
blow up U.S. airliners in the Pacific.
4 - Islama 06433
U.S. Embassy (Islamabad), Cable, "SITREP 6: Pakistan/Afghanistan
Reaction to U.S. Strikes," August 25, 1998, Confidential,
7 pp. [Excised]
This SITREP cable, part of a State Department reporting series
established to gauge foreign reactions to the strikes, documents
the impact of the August 20 action in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
The Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Joseph
W. Ralston, was present in Islamabad during strikes against
terrorist targets in Afghanistan. The Pakistani press reported
that Ralston was in Islamabad to assure the government of Pakistan
that it was not being attacked by India if the Pakistani Air
Defense detected the missiles. Though they did not notice the
attack, officials in the Pakistani government were outraged
at the U.S. violation of Pakistani airspace and call for an
The Taliban reportedly believed the U.S. strikes on Khost were
appalling, since the Taliban had repeatedly promised to take
action against bin Laden if evidence was presented linking him
to terrorism. In the wake of this U.S. missile strike, the Taliban
hardened its stance on extraditing bin Laden. Taliban religious
leaders Mullah Zakiri and Mullah Shinwari issued a fatwa,
an Islamic legal ruling, requiring Muslims to protect bin Laden.
5 - Islama 06448
U.S. Embassy (Islamabad), Cable, "SITREP 7: Pakistan/Afghanistan
Reaction to U.S. Strikes," August 26, 1998, Confidential,
8 pp. [Excised]
The U.S. Embassy in Pakistan reports that the Pakistani Military
Press Office has issued a statement to clarify General Ralston's
presence in Islamabad on the evening of the U.S. missile strikes.
Ralston requested permission to visit Islamabad to explain the
presence of U.S. ships in international waters off the coast
of Pakistan. Ralston assured the Pakistanis the ships were there
for possible action against terrorists in Afghanistan. The report
concludes that if the attack were detected by Pakistani Air
Defense, Ralston would be in a position to clarify the action
The cable goes on to report that the Taliban have received
a letter from the U.S. providing evidence that bin Laden has
engaged in terrorist activities, but that the Taliban see the
letter as "too general" to warrant bin Laden's extradition.
In any case, the Taliban are "not in favor" of talks
with the U.S. because of the missile strikes.
6 - Islama 06863
U.S. Embassy (Islamabad), Cable, "Afghanistan: Demarche to
Taliban on New Bin Laden Threat," September 14, 1998, Secret,
Meeting in Islamabad with a U.S. official, Abdul Hakim Mujahid,
Taliban envoy to the United Nations, said that Mullah Omar is
the primary reason why Osama bin Laden continues to be afforded
sanctuary in Afghanistan, as 80% of Taliban officials oppose
this policy, including Taliban Deputy Council leader Mullah
Mohammad Rabbani. Mujahid added that "very few Afghans
are in favor of bin Laden's presence in Afghanistan." Mujahid
also tried to bolster relations with the U.S. by appealing to
commonalities between the United States and Afghanistan, including
their shared "dislike of Iran."
Upon hearing of the Taliban capture of the central Afghan town
of Bamiyan, the U.S. official asked the Taliban leadership to
defend the Shiite Muslims in the region and the Bamiyan Buddha
statues. Mujahid assured the U.S. that Mullah Omar already ordered
the protection of the statues and that many of the Shiites in
Bamiyan opposed the Taliban, and therefore had to be defeated.
(In November 2001 the retreating Taliban completely destroyed
the city of Bamiyan in the Hindu Kush. There was also evidence
of a systematic slaughter of hundreds of Hazara Shi'a men at
the hands of the Taliban. The Bamiyan Buddhas were demolished
in March 2001 by the Taliban, who declared them offensive to
7 - State 181837
U.S. Department of State, Cable, "Message to Mullah Omar,"
October 1, 1998, Secret, NODIS 7 pp.
This cable consists of a letter from Taliban Supreme Leader
Mullah Omar faxed to U.S. officials on September 24, 1998 and
a subsequent response from the U.S. State Department. Omar's
letter advised the U.S. to alter its policies or risk alienating
the Muslim world and claimed that bin Laden was "just an
excuse made by the U.S. and this is hurting the U.S." The
State Department reaction contains "with us or against
us" language reminiscent of many U.S. officials' speeches
in the days and weeks following the September 11, 2001 attacks
on the United States. According to the 1998 cable, this is a
"clash between the forces of the past and the forces of
the future, between those who tear down and those who build
up, between hope and fear, chaos and community. Those who continue
to harbor and welcome terrorists must accept responsibility
for the actions of the terrorists." "The only dividing
line is between those who practice, support or tolerate terror,
and those who understand that it is murder, plain and simple."
8 - Islama 07510
U.S. Embassy (Islamabad), Cable, "Pakistan: Ambassador Raises
bin Laden with Foreign Secretary Shamshad Ahmed" October
6, 1998, Secret, 2 pp. [Excised]
U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan William B. Milam discusses Afghanistan
and Osama bin Laden with Pakistan Foreign Secretary Shamshad
Ahmed. The Ambassador states that although there are a number
of "sticking points in our relationship [with the Taliban]
which we are willing to discuss, preeminently the status of
women and girls, there was one issue on which we had no flexibility.
This was the presence of Osama bin Laden and his organization
Ambassador Milam asks for Pakistan's help on the bin Laden
issue and stresses "that U.S. patience was growing thin"
and bin Laden's extradition was something the U.S. needed to
have "settled 'in a matter of days' rather than weeks or
9 - Islama 07553
U.S. Embassy (Islamabad), Cable, "Usama Bin Ladin: GOP Official
- Claiming Taliban Want to Get Rid of Bin Ladin - Reviews Three
Options for Dealing With Him," October 7, 1998, Secret, NODIS,
6 pp. [Excised]
A Pakistani official has told U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan William
B. Milam that the Taliban "want to rid themselves of terrorist
Usama bin Ladin," and listed 3 possible ways of doing so.
The unnamed official emphasized option two, in which the U.S.
would purchase bin Laden from the Taliban for a large sum. The
cable also refers to recent meetings in which the Taliban claimed
that if they expelled bin Laden, they would be overthrown because
the Pashtun tribal system dictates that they must provide refuge
to those that seek it.
10 - Islama 07665
U.S. Embassy (Islamabad), Cable, "Usama Bin Laden: High-Level
Taliban Official Gives the Standard Line on Bin Laden With a Couple
of Nuances, In October 11 Meeting With Ambassador," October
12, 1998, Secret, NODIS, 10pp. [Excised]
U.S. Ambassador Milam met with the Taliban Minister of Foreign
Affairs, Maulawi Wakil Ahmed, on October 11 in the first U.S.
meeting with a major Taliban official since the August 20, 1998
U.S. missile strike. The Taliban called bin Laden "a serious
problem." As the U.S. stressed the urgency in getting bin
Laden out of Afghanistan, Wakil continued to give the now repetitive
Taliban explanation that the Afghan people would overthrow the
Taliban if they handed bin Laden over. This contradicts other
messages, such as those from Abdul Hakim Mujahid on September
14, 1998 in which the Taliban stated that few Afghans were in
favor of bin Laden's presence in Afghanistan. Wakil did, however,
ask questions regarding bin Laden's possible treatment in Saudi
Arabia if bin Laden were turned over to Saudi authorities.
Wakil also exaggerated in statements that bin Laden was invited
to Afghanistan by the previous regime and that the Saudis told
the Taliban to keep bin Laden in Afghanistan after they captured
11 - Islama 07841
U.S. Embassy (Islamabad), Cable, "Usama bin Ladin: Coordinating
our Efforts and Sharpening our Message on bin Ladin," October
19, 1998, Secret, 7 pp. [Excised]
Coordinating with United Nations efforts in Afghanistan and
discussing ways to compel Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and the Taliban
to cooperate on the extradition of Osama bin Laden, the State
Department reiterates "that the U.S. reserves the right
to take military action concerning bin Ladin and will hold the
Taliban directly responsible for any terrorist activities bin
Ladin engages in."
The cable recognizes the need for increased pressure on the
Taliban for bin Laden, "before the U.S. strikes on Khost
- a wasting asset - become old news to the Taliban leadership,"
and also observes that Saudi Arabia needs to be "the cornerstone
of U.S. efforts to bring bin Ladin to justice."
12 - Islama 08369
U.S. Embassy (Islamabad), Cable, "Usama bin Ladin: Taliban
Announce Cut-Off Date for Receipt of Evidence; GOP Official Says
Taliban Growing More Intransigent," November 10, 1998 Secret,
5 pp. [Excised]
According to two state department sources, including one Pakistan
government official, the Taliban continue to grow hardened and
more inflexible on the issue of extraditing Osama bin Laden.
Sources attribute the uncompromising Taliban position "to
press reports that the Saudi Interior Minister has exonerated
bin Ladin for involvement in the Khobar Towers and Riyadh bombings,
as well as Taliban frustrations that the U.S. had not provided
them any evidence" proving bin Laden's involvement in terrorist
activities. The Taliban also announced a cut-off date of November
20, 1998 for the submission of evidence against Osama bin Laden
to the Taliban's Supreme Court.
13 - State 210367
U.S. Department of State, Cable, "Afghanistan: Message to
Taliban on Usama Bin Laden," Nov 11 1998, Secret, NODIS 2
In this cable, Ambassador Milam is asked to pass the message
along to the Taliban that the U.S. has now provided greater
evidence of bin Laden's terrorist activities and that the Taliban
will be held responsible for any terrorist action that bin Laden
14 - State 210511
U.S. Department of State, Cable, "Usama Bin Ladin: Message
Delivered to Taliban Representative," Nov 11 1998, Secret,
NODIS 4 pp. [Excised]
A low-level Taliban official, Syedur Rahman Haqqani, said that
bin Laden "is totally under control," and that bin
Laden should not be held responsible for the terrorist activities
of those he had trained or has had contact with. Over 20,000
people were trained for the jihad and bin Laden "cannot
be held accountable for all of their actions." Haqqani
"smugly" asserted that the Saudi attitude regarding
bin Laden remained unclear. Furthermore, the Taliban welcomed
proof linking bin Laden to terrorist activities.
15 - State 220495
U.S. Department of State, Cable, "Osama bin Laden: Taliban
Spokesman Seeks New Proposal for Resolving bin Laden Problem,"
November 28, 1998, Secret, 10 pp. [Excised]
The Taliban Supreme Court announces there is insufficient evidence
to implicate Osama bin Laden in terrorist activities, but Wakil
Ahmed, a close aide to Taliban Supreme leader Mullah Omar, contacts
State Department officials, expressing that "Kandahar did
not believe that the bin Laden matter had been resolved by the
recent Taliban court ruling." Wakil mentions that video
evidence against bin Laden given to the Taliban by the U.S.
contained "nothing new" and was therefore not submitted
to the court.
In an extensive discussion with Alan W. Eastham Jr., Deputy
Chief of Mission to the U.S. Embassy in Pakistan, Wakil observes
that "Saudi Arabia held the key to any resolution"
to the bin Laden issue, but the Taliban felt the Saudis were
unwilling to discuss bin Laden. He claims this is "unfortunate
because the Taliban had given the Saudis an authentic proposal
for resolving the bin Laden issue. . . . It was only Saudi pride
that stood in the way."
Wakil, claiming that "bin Laden had once been a trained
guerilla supported by the United States," is corrected
by Eastham, who clarifies that "while [bin Laden] may have
fought with a resistance group which had received U.S. support,
we had never heard his name during that period and did not support
him at that time."
While further questioning the culpability of bin Laden in the
August bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania,
Wakil "observed that Saddam Hussein was the root cause
of all these problems."
16 - Islama 09222
U.S. Embassy (Islamabad), Cable, "Usama bin Ladin: Charge
Reiterates U.S. Concern to Key Taliban Official, Who Sticks to
Well-Known Taliban Positions," December 19, 1998, Secret,
Wakil Ahmed, a close aide to Taliban Supreme leader Mullah
Omar communicates to Alan W. Eastham Jr., Deputy Chief of Mission
at the U.S. Embassy in Pakistan that he has "personally
discussed U.S. concerns with 'Amir-Al-Mumineen' (Commander of
the Faithful) Mullah Omar," and the Taliban still consider
Osama bin Laden "innocent," adding, "It is unbelievable
that this small man did this to you."
Wakil further claims that the Taliban remain "deeply upset"
over the U.S. bombings of training camps in Khost and compares
the U.S. cruise missile attacks to a terrorist bombing. "The
U.S. said bin Ladin had killed innocent people, but had not
the U.S. killed innocent Afghans in Khost too? Was this not
a crime?" The cable quotes the Taliban official, "I
(Wakil said) consider you (the U.S.) as murderers of Afghans."
17 - Islama 09420
U.S. Embassy (Islamabad), Cable, "Usama Bin Ladin: Bin Ladin
Uses Recent Interviews to Assert Right to WMD, and to Threaten
U.S. and U.K Over Iraq," Dec 28, 1998, Secret, NODIS, 5pp.
Despite the Taliban's claim that bin Laden was denied all access
to the media, this cable reports that he has given two interviews
since the August 20, 1998 U.S. strike on terrorist camps in
Afghanistan and Sudan. Bin Laden asserted his right to use weapons
of mass destruction, and called for Muslims to kill U.S., British,
and Israeli civilians, referring to the recent military strikes
in Iraq as justification. He denied any connection to the August
7, 1998 bombings in Africa and alleged the existence of a Saudi
hit squad out to get him. According to bin Laden, there was
mutual respect between himself and the Taliban, as they considered
each other to be "good Muslims."
19 - Islama 09424
U.S. Embassy (Islamabad), Cable, "Afghanistan: Taliban "Threat
Warning"," Dec 29, 1998, Secret, NODIS, 2pp.
The Taliban has sent the U.S. an unspecific message that terrorists
backed by Ahmed Shah Masoud and the intelligence services in
Iran are conspiring against the U.S. The State Department believes
that the Taliban's motives for sending the message are probably
politically motivated, as Masoud and Iran remain some of the
Taliban's most powerful enemies.
20 - Islama 09488
U.S. Embassy (Islamabad), Cable, "Usama Bin Ladin: Charge
Underscores U.S. Concerns on Interviews; Taliban Envoy Says Bin
Ladin Hoodwinked Them and it Will Not Happen Again," Dec
30, 1998, Secret, NODIS, 4pp.
In a meeting with a U.S. official, Taliban representative Syedur
Rahman Haqqani asserted that the Taliban recently allowed Osama
bin Laden to be interviewed in order to give him a chance to
renounce terrorism. Instead, bin Laden strongly reiterated his
commitment to terrorism against American citizens and once again
claimed the right to use weapons of mass destruction against
Western targets. Haqqani again promised that bin Laden would
not be permitted to engage in any further press appearances
or terrorist activities. "The U.S. should believe the Taliban
that he [bin Laden] will not be permitted any more interviews
and not allowed to engage in terrorist activities." The
fact that bin Laden had "tricked" the Taliban did
not hurt his status as a "guest" of the Taliban in
21 - Islama 00567
U.S. Embassy (Islamabad), Cable, "A/S Inderfurth and S/CT
Sheehan Meet Taliban Representatives," February 1, 2000,
Confidential, 13pp. [Excised]
High-ranking U.S. and Taliban officials made no progress in
discussing the fate of bin Laden, but the Taliban unequivocally
agreed that "hijacking is a terrorist act; The Taliban
always have and always will condemn terrorism, including hijackings."
In attendance at the two-hour meeting were U.S. Assistant Secretary
of State for South Asia Karl F. Inderfurth, U.S. Coordinator
for Counterterrorism Michael Sheehan, Taliban Director for Administration
Amir Khan Muttaqi, and Taliban Ambassador to Pakistan Syed Mohammad
23 - Islama 05749
U.S. Embassy (Islamabad), Cable, "Searching for the Taliban's
Hidden Message," September 19, 2000, Secret, 12 pp. [Excised]
A Taliban official whose name is excised from the cable surprises
U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan William B. Milam by breaking from
the usual Taliban responses - even refraining from questioning
the validity of U.S. evidence linking Osama bin Laden to terrorism.
The Ambassador observes that the "tone and statements"
of the official remained "far less obstreperous than normal
Ambassador Milam clarifies for the Taliban official that "the
U.S. was not against the Taliban, per se, was not out to destroy
the Taliban," however that the "UBL issue is supremely
important and must be resolved so the other issues can be discussed
in a more amenable atmosphere. The one issue that cannot be
subordinated or diminished is bin Ladin. If the U.S. and the
Taliban could get past bin Ladin, 'we would have a different
kind of relationship.'"
The unnamed Taliban official in this document is probably Taliban
Deputy Foreign Minister Abdul Jalil. Another declassified State
Department cable, Islamabad
05779, also dated September 19, 2000, reiterates
that a Taliban official who met with Ambassador Milam on September
19, 2000 requests "a follow-up meeting with U.S. officials
on or about September 30, probably in Frankfurt." A cable
dated November 9, 2000, State
215948, discusses meetings about bin Laden
held in Frankfurt, Germany on November 2-3 between senior U.S.
officials Alan Eastham and Edmund Hill and Taliban Deputy Foreign
Minister Abdul Jalil.
24 - State 028054
U.S. Department of State, Cable, "Taliban Deliver Letter
from Muttawakil; Say They Will Comply With Office Closing in New
York," February 15, 2001, Confidential, 5 pp.
The State Department informs several key diplomatic posts that
the Taliban have delivered a letter from Foreign Minister Abdul
Wakil Muttawakil to U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell asking
the Secretary to reconsider the policies of the previous administration.
The message reiterated the claim that bin Laden has been contained
from engaging in any "military" activities, and there
was no evidence linking him to any terrorist plots. The Taliban
intimated that they would consider trading bin Laden for U.S.
recognition. The Taliban furthermore claimed that bin Laden
is disliked by "80 to 90 percent" of Afghans. Noorullah
Zandran, a Taliban representative, told the Americans, we "wished
your missiles had hit him."
1. The 9/11 Commission Report: Final Report
of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United
States, Chapter 3, Section 3.4, Page 93. Emphasis in original.