Timeline: The Taliban - 2001

Updated August 16, 2021 | Laura Hayes and Borgna Brunner

Key dates in the history of the Taliban and Contemporary Afghanistan

1979-2000 2001 2002-2006 2006-present


The UN adds an arms embargo against the Taliban.

March 12

Ignoring an international outcry, the Taliban blow up two 2,000-year-old Buddhist statues in the cliffs above Bamian.


Religious minorities are ordered to wear tags identifying them as non-Muslims; Hindu women are required to veil themselves like other Afghan women.


Taliban bans the use of the Internet, playing cards, computer discs, movies, satellite TV, musical instruments, and chessboards, after declaring them against Islamic law.


Eight Christian foreign-aid workers are arrested for proselytizing. Two are American citizens.

Sept. 9

Northern Alliance Commander Ahmed Shah Massoud is wounded in a suicide bombing, allegedly by al-Qaeda operatives. Massoud dies from his wounds several days later.

Sept. 11

Terrorist attack on World Trade Center and Pentagon.


Fearing U.S. reprisals, Afghans begin fleeing Kabul. Within a week more than 4,000 people a day try to cross into Pakistan.

U.S. demands that the Taliban hand over bin Laden and al-Qaeda members.

The Taliban offers to turn over bin Laden if presented with evidence of his guilt. They also suggest that they will allow him to be tried by Muslim clerics.

Saudi Arabia and the UAE cut off diplomatic ties. Pakistan pulls diplomats from Afghanistan but maintains ties.

U.N. and Red Cross aid efforts are halted.

Sept. 16

Pakistan's president, General Musharraf, pledges support for U.S. efforts to arrest bin Laden and appeals to his nation for support. Taliban supporters mount demonstrations.

Sept. 24

The Taliban calls for a jihad against America if U.S. forces enter Afghanistan.

Oct. 7

The U.S. begings bombing strategic Taliban sites in Afghanistan.

Osama bin Laden issues a statement calling on all Muslims to wage a holy war against America.

More pro-Taliban, anti-U.S. demonstrations erupt in Pakistan.

Oct. 19

U.S. begins ground assaults against the Taliban. More than 100 commandos parachute into an airfield near Kandahar while a small number of special operations forces raid a compound used by the Taliban to gather intelligence. Two Americans die when a support helicopter crashes.

Other special forces units are rumored to be aiding the Northern Alliance and hunting bin Laden.

Oct. 26

The Taliban executes former mujahideen leader Abdul Haq, his nephew, and anti-Taliban commander, Haji Dawran. The three had been on a mission to convince several Taliban leaders to defect when they were captured, then tried for treason and espionage.


  • Nov. 9 Northern Alliance forces, with help of U.S. air support, take cities of Mazar-i-Sharif and Taloqan from the Taliban.
  • Nov. 11 Three international journalists are killed near Taloqan in a Taliban ambush.
  • Nov. 12 Northern Alliance forces capture Herat and advance toward Kabul.
  • Nov. 13 Northern Alliance enters Kabul. The Taliban fall back from Kandahar. There are reports of lawlessness from Mazar-i-Sharif.
  • Nov. 15 The eight foreign aid workers held since August are freed as the Taliban flees Kandahar.
  • Nov. 21 Taliban commanders in the city of Kunduz plan to meet with Northern Alliance leaders to negotiate a surrender. The Taliban in Kandahar announce they will continue to fight and claim to still control the provinces of Kandahar, Helmand, Oruzgan, Zabol, and part of Ghazni province. The Taliban deny knowing the location of Osama bin Laden.
  • Nov. 24 The Taliban surrender Kunduz.
  • Nov. 25 U.S. special forces and air strikes help subdue a prison revolt in Mazar-i-Sharif. The prison held several hundred Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters, many of them foreign, who had surrendered in Kunduz. The uprising lasts three days. A CIA agent, about 30 Northern Alliance soldiers, and more than 500 Taliban prisoners are killed.
  • Nov. 25 Hundreds of marines land near Kandahar to combat Taliban and al-Qaeda forces. This is the first major incursion of U.S. ground troops in Afghanistan.
  • Nov. 27 Afghan leaders meet with UN representatives in Bonn, Germany, to work out guidelines for a post-Taliban government. Afghan leaders represent 4 factions: the Northern Alliance; the "Rome Group," representing former Afghan King Mohammad Zahir Shah; the "Peshawar Group," representing Afghan refugees in Pakistan; and the "Cyprus Group," representing an Iranian-backed group of Afghan exiles.
  • Nov. 29 U.S. continues airstrikes on Kandahar. Mullah Omar reportedly tells the remaining Taliban forces to "fight to the death." Meanwhile, the Northern Alliance agrees to the presence of international peacekeeping forces.


  • Dec. 5 Hamid Karzai, an Afghan tribal leader, is chosen to head an interim government by the delegates in Bonn.
  • Dec. 6 The Taliban agree to surrender Kandahar. No agreement, however, is made on the fate of Mullah Omar and Osama bin Laden.
  • Dec. 9 The Taliban surrender Kandahar and withdraw from the city. While the Taliban have been completely removed from power, former Taliban soldiers show up in nearby villages and continue to push the Taliban's policies.
  • Dec. 11 Bin Laden's forces retreat to mountains near Tora Bora in eastern Afghanistan. The U.S. bombards a complex of caves where he is believed to be hiding.
  • Dec. 16 The U.S. declares that al-Qaeda has been destroyed in Afghanistan.
  • Dec. 16 The U.S. embassy in Kabul reopens.
  • Dec. 20 Afghan and international officials agree in principle to a UN peacekeeping force, which will help rebuild Afghanistan.
  • Dec. 22 Hamid Karzai is sworn in as chairman of an interim government replacing the Taliban. The U.S. announces that it will recognize the government, the first time an Afghan government has received official US recognition since 1979.
  • Dec. 26 Although rumours persist that he has left the country, or is dead, U.S. forces continue to hunt for bin Laden near Tora Bora.


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