ANNOUNCER: The following program contains material that may be disturbing.
Viewer discretion is advised.
Following 9/11, the United States invaded Afghanistan to dissolve the Taliban.
HAMID KARZAI: Be sure that warlordism is over in Afghanistan.
We'll have the help of the United States to do that.
I can breathe!
ANNOUNCER: The U.S. had hoped to introduce democracy and stability to the region.
This proved to be impossible.
"Afghanistan: The Wounded Land-- Trap," on DocWorld.
♪ FLIGHT ATTENDANT (over radio): The cockpit's not answering.
Somebody's stabbed in business class.
I don't know, I think we're getting hijacked.
(sirens blaring) MAN: Another one just hit the building, wow... Another one's hit it hard.
MAN 2: Another one just hit the World Trade-- holy smokes!
GEORGE W. BUSH: On September the 11th, enemies of freedom committed an act of war against our country.
The evidence we have gathered all points to a collection of loosely affiliated terrorist organizations known as Al-Qaeda.
There are thousands of these terrorists in more than 60 countries.
They are recruited from their own nations and brought to camps in places like Afghanistan, where they are trained in the tactics of terror.
♪ SIMA SAMAR: If you look at the people who were in the plane, who committed suicide and killed more than 3,000 people in New York, none of them were Afghan.
None of them were Afghan.
All of them had been in Afghanistan.
♪ And why that has happened?
Because Afghanistan was forgotten.
And if again Afghanistan is forgotten and isolated, no guarantee that it will not happen.
♪ It can happen in the future, as well.
♪ NARRATOR: The rise of Islamic fundamentalism in Afghanistan began in the late '60s... ...as the elite in Kabul embraced a Western way of life, and the youth dreamed of a socialist revolution.
But many Afghans were uncomfortable with these changes.
The violent communist takeover in 1978 and the repression of Islam further widened the gap.
(crowd applauding) (cheers and applause) NARRATOR: The mujahideen, the holy warriors, stood up against the communist government.
(translated): In Afghanistan, the faithful mujahideen are fighting to establish a pure Islamic government.
(talking in background) NARRATOR: What started as an insurgency became a war... (explosion echoes) ...once the Soviet army entered Afghanistan to support the communist regime.
The courage of the mujahideen turned them into a legend.
SHUKRIA BARAKZAI: I remember, when I become teenager, one of my dream was that we will go, and we will distribute water to the freedom fighters.
NARRATOR: The mujahideen received international support, from the U.S.A., as well as from the Muslim world.
In the 1980s, Osama bin Laden came to Afghanistan to join the war against the godless Soviets.
Politics is always dirty.
And the countries who are involve, they choose the most conservative group of people, and train them, and made them monsters just to get rid of the USSR.
(firing) (man shouts) ALL (in Dari): NARRATOR: In 1989, after ten years of combat, the Soviet army withdrew from Afghanistan.
One million people died in that war.
Millions more became refugees.
The mujahideen had won-- but instead of building peace, they fought among themselves for power.
They destroyed much of Kabul and the rest of the country.
♪ The resistance fighters of the '80s became the warlords of the '90s.
Yeah, they destroy.
Mujahideen destroyed the dream of the nation.
♪ NARRATOR: In 1994, a new force emerged, the Taliban, a militia led by clerics and made of young men raised in refugee camps.
With the support of Pakistan, they overcame the warlords.
By 1996, the Taliban ruled over the country.
BARAKZAI: People were suffered from civil war.
When Taliban came, amazing that they was been welcomed by Afghans.
NARRATOR: The new rulers brought peace, but enforced a harsh interpretation of Islamic law.
Alcohol and sports were forbidden.
Movie theaters were closed.
Women were segregated.
(speaking Afghan language): ♪ NARRATOR: Those who broke the law were heavily punished.
MAN (speaking Dari): (gun fires) NARRATOR: Under the Taliban, Osama bin Laden and Al-Qaeda found a safe haven and a training ground to prepare their attack on America.
♪ I don't know if I knew the news exactly on 11 or 12th.
Because there were no national TV during the Taliban time, because they think pictures are haram.
♪ First time I heard the name of Osama bin Laden after 9/11, "Oh, Osama bin Laden?
Who is he?"
(speaking world language) BARAKZAI: He is some guy that the Americans is looking after.
Okay, what, what the Taliban will, may do?
REPORTER: Osama bin Laden remains the prime suspect and remains as yet untouchable inside Afghanistan.
BARAKZAI: People, they thought the United State of America will come, and they will maybe use their nuclear power and they will destroy the entire country, like Hiroshima.
Like Nagasaki, like other places.
We say, "We all will die at once, and we don't need to cry, and we may not miss each other."
We'd been exhausting from war and war, and violence and violence.
So, we thought that's maybe the end of the Afghanistan.
BUSH: Tonight, the United States of America makes the following demands on the Taliban.
Deliver to the United States authorities all the leaders of Al-Qaeda who hide in your land.
Every nation in every region now has a decision to make.
Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists.
AGHA JAN MOTASIM (speaking Afghan language): (talking in background) (man speaking Afghan language over loudspeaker) (talking in background) (speaking Afghan language) (translated): In the first place, we do not have extradition treaties with any country.
Secondly, we have to say that before anybody is extradited or punished, there has to be something against him.
Something which is proved.
And so far, we have no proof against bin Laden.
(crowd chanting in Afghan language) TAYSIR ALONY (speaking Spanish): BUSH: I can hear you, the rest of the world hears you, and the people who... (crowd cheering and applauding) And the people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon!
(crowd cheers and applauds) CROWD (chanting): U.S.A.!
The drumbeats for invading Afghanistan were very loud.
Then I start getting calls.
"The Taliban would like to talk to you.
Would you call this satellite number?"
I said, "Okay, who am I calling?"
And it was Muttawakil, the foreign minister of the, of the Taliban, and his interpreter at the time.
And they said, "Mr. Milton, "this is important.
"Osama bin Laden is no longer under our protection.
"And we will say it again: "that man is no longer under our protection.
Just go get him."
I called the White House, and the White House said, "Well, that's a nice start."
And I thought, "You guys want to invade, A, and B, you don't know where bin Laden is."
BUSH: On my orders, the United States military has begun strikes against Al-Qaeda terrorist training camps and military installations of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan.
(explosion echoes) (explosions echoing) (bomb whistling) BARAKZAI: Well, the sound of B-52 was like a nightmare.
During the Taliban, at least big cities was in a very safe environment.
So, people forgot the sounds of, let's say, guns and war machines, so, and again it start.
(guns firing in distance) ALONY (reporting in Arabic): (speaking Dari): NARRATOR: Less than a month after the attack on the World Trade Center, U.S. and British Special Forces were flown in to hunt for bin Laden and topple the Taliban regime which had protected him.
Osama bin Laden managed to escape, but before disappearing, he gave one last interview.
ALONY (speaking Spanish): (people talking and calling in background) (chuckling) (shouting in Dari): ♪ (shouting) (guns firing) NARRATOR: The Western troops needed local help to move faster on the ground.
So they reached out to their old allies, former mujahideen commanders who had fought against the Soviets in the '80s and had been defeated by the Taliban in the civil war: the so-called Northern Alliance.
- (talking in background) NARRATOR: The commanders accepted the offer.
At once, they could take their revenge and return to power.
(fires) (singing in Afghan language) (praying) NARRATOR: Within weeks, the Northern Alliance managed to get closer to Kabul.
Everybody wanted to go.
At least all the people I knew wanted to go.
But clearly the initial response was gonna be done by some special operating forces we were, uh, cheering on, but everybody in their heart of hearts that wasn't there was disappointed that they weren't gonna be a part of that.
At the very beginning, we expected this long, painful fight like the Soviets had had.
But some airstrikes, some different things, and the Taliban starts to collapse.
(helicopter flying in distance) MOTASIM (speaking Afghan language): ALONY (speaking Spanish): ♪ We were a little concerned, more than a little, that Al-Qaeda didn't seem to have been rounded up and destroyed-- they seemed to have slipped away.
But if you separate Al-Qaeda now, Afghanistan, you've got the collapsed Taliban regime, and you go, "Well, okay, well, maybe that's it."
Now, everybody was pulling out books on history and trying to read up on, you know, background of Afghanistan, but there was very little understanding or appreciation for what really not just the Soviet war, but what the civil war in the '90s had done to the political structure, who was running things, the rise of the warlords.
There was very little appreciation that this was a very strange, corrupted society.
And anything we do to touch it is going to, uh, is going to be different.
NARRATOR: In November 2001, the Taliban regime dissolved, and the commanders could enter the capital, Kabul.
It seemed the beginning of a new era, an era of hope.
(speaking Dari): (people talking in background) ♪ BARAKZAI: It was such a wonderful time.
I can breathe!
Now it's a different Afghanistan.
We realize American are not there to kill us.
They are just looking after Taliban.
♪ (crowd cheering, horns beeping) (talking in background) ♪ (speaking world language) ♪ (whistling, clapping) IBRAHIMI (speaking Afghan language): (kids playing) BARAKZAI: The people start the generator and the motor of the society to move.
And the flood of the refugees and the Afghans, diaspora from other countries, was just... Kabul was, like, growing up and being, expanding the size.
(people talking in background, horns honking) NARRATOR: Over three million Afghans had fled since the '70s.
Many of these refugees lived in Pakistan, and were finally free to return home.
WOMAN (speaking Dari): ♪ NARRATOR: Politicians and diplomats convened in Bonn to help Afghanistan form a new government.
BARAKZAI: They collect bunch of people from across the world, and they put them in a room and say, "You have to decide "who will be the interim government head, "and who will be the deputies, and who will be the ministers.
"So it's like a cake-- okay, guys, "let's come and share it and eat it, and everything will be fantastic."
♪ NARRATOR: The new government included Northern Alliance commanders who had defeated the Taliban, representatives of various ethnic groups, and, historically, two women.
SAMAR: In 5th of December, in early morning, my son called me and said that, "You're minister of women's affair and you're vice president for President Karzai."
Karzai become president, and I didn't know Karzai.
BUSH: Hamid Karzai.
(cheers and applause) NARRATOR: Hamid Karzai was chosen to lead a transition government.
The son of a tribal leader and a member of the main ethnic group, the Pashtun, he was active against the Soviets first and the Taliban later.
His task was to lead Afghanistan to unity and peace.
SAMAR: This new position which they gave to me, Ministry of Women's Affair, this one doesn't exist before in Afghanistan.
So, that other ministry is, at least has a destroyed building.
Or at least there is a piece of land belong to that ministry.
For Ministry of Women's Affair, there is nothing!
So, I don't know where I am going to stay.
NARRATOR: After years of chaos and oppression, a fragile democracy came to Afghanistan.
A new constitution was drafted.
Millions of men and women were given the right to vote.
I struggled a lot for the constitution.
It was a very tough journey I had.
I left my daughter.
I was not on her first birthday.
A little child.
I was away from home for a couple of months, just for the sake of Afghan.
I collect their ideas, and coming back and drafting the constitution.
I believe Afghanistan need new leaders.
Afghanistan need new vision with new ideas-- we should build for new Afghanistan.
(car horn beeps) NARRATOR: However, the new democratic institutions had to contend with the intimidating presence of commanders and warlords who had taken part in the destruction of Afghanistan in the '90s.
♪ The new president was asked to limit their influence.
Be sure that warlordism is over in Afghanistan.
You may not see the signs, man, but it's over.
And we will make sure that it's over.
And there, too-- it's a good question you ask-- we'll have the help of the United States to do that.
SAMAR: So, I had a meeting with Colin Powell.
And I told Colin Powell, "We should not, we should not revitalize the warlords.
"I am not in favor of killing people "and persecution of people, "but... "I am in favor of truth.
"I am in favor of healing of the wound of the victims.
Unless we heal the wound, the wound is going to bleed."
(speaking Dari): MAN: (people murmuring in background) MAN 2: (people shouting) When, after 2001, and we went in, and then we put all the same guys.
We call them warlords.
I mean, it's the guy in charge.
The emir, the whoever.
There's always going to be somebody in charge.
What, what name do you want to give them?
You're going to have to deal with them.
BARAKZAI: All mujahideen leaders, all these collection, comes in parliament, and I was member of parliament, and I welcomed them.
"Okay, yes, please."
I don't know, for some reason my face, my dress code, my outfit was not very good for them.
And they, they bother me a lot.
And particularly with the head scarf.
Whenever it was falling down, they were asking me to, "Sister, please put it on.
Please put it on."
And one day, I was really not in a good mood, because it was a very serious debate about the law.
So, I just turned my face, and I was badly loud, and I say, "This is my head, and this is my scarf.
"Whom you are in between say?
It's between me and God."
It's not easy for any mother to work under same roof, because of those people that my country was destroyed and I lost my kids.
But I thought, "If I go for revenge, "it will make me very weak.
It's better for me to remember what happened."
So, therefore, I start to work with them.
NARRATOR: Since 2002, international troops had been stationed in Afghanistan to enforce security and help the reconstruction.
(people talking and calling) 51 countries had contributed to the mission under the leadership of NATO.
MCCHRYSTAL: I arrived in May, and we became the first three-star headquarters in.
I felt that the Americans and all Westerners were generally welcomed.
In fact, in some cases, very, very enthusiastically.
(talking in background) MCCHRYSTAL: The West didn't know what it wanted to do.
It didn't know how much it wanted to invest in Afghanistan, it didn't know how involved it wanted to be.
It was an absolute disorganized mess.
That's what jumped out at me.
I once used the description, it was, you know, like us being college kids in a Star Wars bar of, or mafia-run bar.
We didn't understand it a bit.
IBRAHIMI (speaking Afghan language): ♪ NARRATOR: A period of reconstruction began.
Cities, particularly the capital, Kabul, benefited from the aid and investments coming in from abroad.
But the money often ended up in the pockets of only a handful of people.
(speaking French): ♪ NARRATOR: Meanwhile, the Afghan population was in desperate need.
After decades of war, millions lacked the most essential resources.
The situation was even worse in the countryside, largely forgotten by the international investments.
Extreme poverty and widespread corruption triggered nostalgia for the Taliban years.
♪ (speaking Dari) (translated): These days, they suck your blood.
Even governments take bribes just for doing something legal.
The Taliban beat women, and there were restrictions, but at least there was no bribery.
MOTASIM (in Afghan language): ♪ (aircraft flying in distance) NARRATOR: By 2005, the Taliban reorganized and the mission of the international coalition became more complicated.
(speaking Afghan language) (engine idling) ♪ (men speaking on radio) MAN (in Dari, on radio): MAN: ♪ MAN (on radio): MAN: (firing) (laughing) (weapon fires, explosion echoes) MAN (on radio): (man shouting on radio, radio static buzzing) MCCHRYSTAL: About 2005 and 2006, my forces had some brutal battles, and I'm talking with large numbers of people doing a lot of killing.
(guns firing, men shouting) Down, down, down!
(guns firing) Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait.
Are you okay, Eleanor?
(firing) (explosion echoes, man groans) ♪ You're trying to tell people this, this is getting pretty serious.
The Taliban are able to generate a lot of combat power, and every time they can generate combat power, they have the ability to generate credibility.
And then you started to see the Taliban owning the ground in areas like Helmand and Kandahar, running a shadow economy with taxation of movement, and things like that.
And suddenly, they become the de facto power brokers in the area.
(men speaking Pashto) MAN: (speaking Pashto): MAN 2 (in Pashto): MAN 1: (helicopters flying in distance, birds chirping) ♪ MAN: Great God in Heaven, dear Jesus, we pray for our leadership, from every corporal all the way up through the president.
EMILY MILLER: You know, I'm from a fairly small town in Indiana, and I'd never really been outside the country, you know?
I didn't know much about the world.
And I think at the time I really believed that we were making a difference.
That we were trying to fight terrorism abroad.
When I went to Afghanistan, I think it just opened my eyes how na ïve I was, and how complex the world is.
One particular night, we went to a compound.
(people speaking Afghan language) It's, like, 2:30 in the morning, we've woken everybody up, and I'm trying to talk to the woman who's kind of the head of the household.
And I said, "Well, we're here because there are apparently "pretty bad people operating in this area, and we need to figure out what's going on."
And she basically told me, "You know, why do you think "you're any different than the Taliban?
"You come at my home at 2:00 a.m., you, you threaten me.
"You know, they do the same thing.
What, what side I am supposed to choose, you know?"
She's, like, "If I work with the Taliban, you come after me.
If I work with you, the Taliban come after me."
And I think for me, that was the first time I realized that most of the Afghan people were just stuck in the middle.
(dog barking) (children playing in distance) (speaking Afghan language, man replying on radio) MOTASIM (speaking Afghan language): (speaking Afghan language) MILLER: Traditional warfare is straightforward, right?
One army versus another.
That's what we had been trained to do.
Unfortunately, an insurgency is much more complex.
You don't know who the bad guy is.
They don't have to wear a uniform.
You could have good people, you could have bad people, and you can't tell them apart.
(man speaking Afghan language) SOLDIER: Sir, stop.
(people shouting, motorbike approaching) (fires) (people talking in background) ♪ (guns firing) MILLER: Once we started to get shot at, we started to withdraw, right?
Into our bases.
So, there was no way to meaningfully connect with the population.
So, I think for the most people, it was easier to just hate the Afghans.
And... And, you know, stick with your own tribe, so to speak.
(man murmuring) SOLDIER: How's it going, man?
- (murmuring) - Yeah.
BARAKZAI: Those soldiers had a kind of fear.
They always keep distance.
It was not really pleasant for me to read a sign on the military vehicles that I should keep a distance away from them.
Otherwise, they can shoot.
♪ MCCHRYSTAL: The challenge for us was, if you wanted to win the war in Afghanistan, you had to get the support of the Afghan people.
Not the love, the support.
To get the support of the people, you have to first not kill them, and make it in their interest to side with you.
The challenge with that is, if the enemy creates enough violence, and they put you in a violent mode yourself, then you have to have more armored vehicles, you tend to use artillery, you tend to do these things.
You become a source of violence that kills the very people-- unintentionally-- kills the people you're trying to deal with.
(shouting) REPORTER: These are the hostilities left behind less than 24 hours after an ISAF raid on Wednesday to capture a Taliban commander.
ISAF says they succeeded, but also killed three others, Afghans the Americans claim showed hostile intent.
(translated): They opened the door and we went to see who it was.
My brother talked to them in English.
And I don't know what he said, but they told him to stop and shut up.
And then they shot my brothers.
They would not allow me near their bodies and kept holding me back.
(weeping) ♪ MILLER: I'm not sure Afghanistan was where we should have been to begin with.
And the longer we were there, I feel like the worse it got, and the worse we made it for the people of Afghanistan.
We were certainly trying to impose our worldview, and that's just not how it, how it works, and... And we realize that.
Well, I hope we realize that-- I'm not sure.
(speaking Afghan language) NARRATOR: Increasing violence between coalition forces and insurgents caught the Afghan population in the middle.
The expression "collateral damage" became an all too familiar description for the many innocent civilians killed by accident.
♪ People ought to begin to understand that this isn't a good idea to invade Afghanistan.
It hasn't worked out for the last 2,400 years.
And, if you pay attention to history at all, that should be a clue.
Don't get involved in insurgency warfare unless you're on the side of the insurgents.
♪ (cheers and applause) NARRATOR: When President Obama was elected in 2008, he inherited an unpopular war that had claimed the lives of hundreds of U.S. soldiers.
After ten years on the run, Osama bin Laden was finally killed.
He was found not in Afghanistan, but in Pakistan.
BARACK OBAMA: The United States has conducted an operation that killed Osama bin Laden, the leader of Al-Qaeda.
♪ NARRATOR: The initial goal of the Afghan campaign was accomplished.
A few months later, Obama announced his intention to withdraw the troops.
♪ (speaking Afghan language): MOTASIM (speaking Afghan language): (men speaking Dari) MAN: MAN 2: (speaking Afghan language): ♪ (siren blaring) BARAKZAI: Everywhere they made suicide attacked.
For the insurgents, it's, they usually claiming that they are against foreign troops.
But the casualty, the large number of casualty, was among the people.
♪ (explosion roars, car horns beeping) It was 2014.
The suicide car clash with my car.
When I opened my eyes, my driver, he was crying.
I had no idea what happened.
(siren blaring) Nine people died.
And more than 30 people was been wounded.
It was such a bad feeling I had.
(explosion roars) REPORTER: The first blast rocked Kabul around 6:30 a.m.
Hours after the attack took place, and bodies are still being removed.
According to security forces, several fighters were involved in this attack, all wearing suicide vests and carrying automatic weapons.
(guns firing) NARRATOR: With fewer coalition troops on the ground and the Taliban violence increasing, many foreign companies and NGOs decided to leave.
- (shouting) NARRATOR: Afghans were once again left alone to deal with the fallout of war.
IBRAHIMI (speaking Afghan language): (people calling and shouting in background) (people talking in background) (people shouting) (cheers and applause) ♪ NARRATOR: For 40 years, Afghanistan has been caught in a trap.
A vicious cycle.
A failed government leads to invasion, then a struggle against the invasion leads to another failed government.
♪ In 2018, the new president of Afghanistan, Ashraf Ghani, announced peace talks with the Taliban, offering them full recognition as a political party.
♪ The future of Afghanistan is uncertain.
What we do know is that in order to break the vicious cycles of the past, the country will need the strong voice of its women.
(speaking Afghan language): ♪ BARAKZAI: We can solve the problem by talking and negotiating.
By tolerating each other and by respecting each other.
We can disagree, but we don't need to kill each other.
♪ You know, this war was, teach me a lot.
Extremely a lot.
Despite of how much we fall down, how much we broken, again we are standing and we are rebuilding ourself.
(children laughing, screaming) That's why Afghanistan's so beautiful.
♪ ♪ ♪ ♪