Afghan War 2001

American-led military campaign against Afghanistan's ruling Taliban movement and the terrorist organization al-Qaeda, which was allied with the Taliban. Following the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in New York City and Washington DC, President George W. Bush gave the Taliban an ultimatum to surrender al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, who was America's most wanted individual because of his role as mastermind of the terrorist attacks. Faced with a stark refusal by the Taliban, the United States and Great Britain began launching air strikes against the Taliban in Afghanistan on October 7, 2001. The newest in a long succession of Afghan wars had just started.

In early December 2001, under the supervision of the United Nations, the various anti-Taliban factions that now had control over Afghanistan met in Bonn, Germany, to discuss the sharing of political power. An Afghan Interim Administration was established, and Hamid Karzai, a former anti-Taliban dissident, was appointed as its chairman. A few months later, Karzai was elected interim president of Afghanistan by the traditional Afghani Grand Council (Loya Jirga).

Since the official end of the war, reconstruction projects have been set up in Afghanistan, and international donors have met repeatedly to help the fifth-poorest country in the world recover from 23 years of almost continuous warfare. Although the Afghanis are slowly rebuilding their country, American and allied troops are still roaming the mountains along the border with Pakistan in search of Osama bin Laden, Mullah Omar, and their supporters. Military operations have been undertaken periodically, resulting in significant numbers of deaths on both sides. The armed violence in Afghanistan continues today.

Excerpted from: Afghanistan, War in. (2006). In R. J. Samuels (Ed.), Encyclopedia of U.S. National Security (Vol. 1, pp. 4-5). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Reference. Retrieved from