by Joe Shea
American Reporter Correspondent
November 13, 2001
KABUL FALLS TO NORTHERN ALLIANCE AS TALIBAN FLEE
NOVEMBER 13, 2001 -- Afghanistan's capital city of Kabul fell to the forces of the Northern Alliance, America's allies in the wear against terrorism there, as Taliban troops pounded for days by American bombing runs abandoned their posts Monday and fled south towards Kandahar.
The quick victory came just weeks after the Northern Alliance controlled as little as 10 percent of the country, and was preceded by victories in northern Afghanistan's strategic cities of Mazar-i-Sharif in the west, Taliqan to the north and progress at Herat and Jalalabad.
American commandos worked with the opposition forces as artillery spotters and scouts for bombing raids on targets they identified.
The victory was marred by the sight of Northern Alliance soldiers executing unarmed Taliban soldiers as they tried to surrender and looting of their bodies and belongings along the road to Kabul.
There was an unconfirmed report that 100 Taliban supporters - variously described as soldiers and as students - were executed in cold blood. Northern Alliance unit commanders reportedly shrugged off the incidents.
In Kabul, there was a run on barber shops as hundreds if not thousands of men forced to grow beards by the Taliban had them sheared off,often to the sound of recorded music, which like men's shaven faces werebanned by the Taliban.
In recent days, President Bush and the leaders of neighboring Tajikistan and Uzbekistan had tried via the media to persuade the Northern Alliance not to enter Kabul until an intertnational force was in place there to keep order and to facilitate the creation of a broadly-based ruling council that includes ethnic Pashtuns of southern Afghanistan who have been among the most ardent supporters of the Taliban.
The Northern Alliance resisted those entreaties, however, reportedly because they feared Pakistan's leaders would encourage their allies in Afghanistan to enter Kabul and seize power ahead of them.
In the end, however, there was little resistance to the opposition force's progress towards Kabul; news reports claimed they lost only eight soldiers in the final push.
U.S. officials and others were quick to caution that the war against terrorism had merely entered a new stage with the fall of Kabul, rather than the endgame.
Much of southern Afghanistan is still committed to the Taliban, which also has the backing of many Islamic fundamentalists throughout the Middle East, and especially in Pakistan.
More importantly, the task of capturing or killing Osama bin Laden is no apparently little closer to completion than it was on Sept. 11, when terrorists believed to be under his command used hijacked passenger jets to attack the World Trade Center towers in New York City and felled them at the cost of about 5,000 lives, and also killed about 100 Americans by similarly crashing another hijacked passenger jet into the Pentagon in Washington, D.C.
That could quickly change, however, in the light of comments reportedly made to Pakistani journalist Hama Mir, who told readers of the popular English-language Pakistan daily newspaper Dawn yesterday that in an interview in a cold region some five hours outside Kabul, the leader of the al-Qaeda network of terrorists said he was in possession of nuclear weapons. However, Bin Laden said, according to the reporter, he would only use the weapons as a "deterrent."
Whether true or false, such a statement may now spur efforts to find and disable Bin Laden a hundredfold, aided by the Northern Alliance and presumably the resources of the new Afghanistan government.
American officials are certain to take Bin Laden's comment seriously, even if they have some skepticism about its truth, because they remain aware that Russia's nuclear weapons arsenal is not entirely accounted for, and have documented instances of al-Qaida efforts to obtained enriched uranium that may be used in nuclear weapons. U.S. forces have also found evidence of chemical weapon testing at abandoned al-Qaida camps.