Since October of 2001, the United States has been deeply involved in Afghanistan as part of its ongoing effort to confront radical Islam abroad, and to prevent its various manifestations from reasserting their domination in that country. Another objective has been to prevent Afghanistan and Pakistan’s nearby tribal regions (the so-called Federally Administered Tribal Agencies, or FATA) from serving as sanctuary for al Qaeda and affiliated terrorist groups. The past year in Afghanistan was characterized by a renewed focus upon the conflict after a number of years of holding operations on the part of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), and some local successes on the part of the Taliban. In general, ISAF’s operations have focused upon breaking the control that the Taliban had established over the southern part of the country, especially in the regions close to the Pakistan border. In 2010, the U.S. military went on the offensive, taking advantage of a 30,000 man troop surge provided by President.
Violent Islamist activity in Afghanistan can be attributed to several militant groups: the Taliban and their affiliates, including the Haqqani network, foreign elements (mostly associated with al-Qaeda, but also encompassing other radicals from all over the Muslim world and Europe, such as the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan), and the Hizb-e-Islami. Although there is a substantial Sh'ite population in Afghanistan, mainly ethnic Hazaras, who make up from 9-10 percent of the country’s population, there is no evidence of radical activity associated with it. The Taliban, the primary locus of opposition to the U.S.-backed Karzai government, can be viewed in purely religious or in tribal terms. If the conflict is described in religious terms, then the Taliban portray themselves as recreating the events of the 1970s and 1980s, where a minority of Afghans collaborated with an invading foreign non-Muslim force (i.e. the Soviets) attempting to impose an alien way of life upon the traditionalist Afghans. If the conflict is portrayed in tribal terms, then the Pashtuns, who comprise most of the Taliban’s rank-and-file and 40 percent of the country’s population, have felt they have been locked out of power by the country’s ethnic Tajiks, who, together with the Uzbeks and others, have tended to dominate the region since 2001’s Operation Enduring Freedom toppled the Pashtun-dominated Taliban regime.
Between 2001 and 2005, the Taliban were largely in disarray. This period of the conflict was characterized by raids upon ISAF forces and sporadic operations in major centers in the country’s south (notably Kandahar). In general, the Taliban controlled the countryside in the south and east, but were unsuccessful in attacking ISAF forces directly. They tried launching so-called “swarm attacks” on U.S. and Coalition troops, but took heavy losses and instead switched to traditional guerilla and terrorist tactics. Any time pressure was applied to one of their strongholds, elements of the Taliban would take refuge across the border in Pakistan in the FATA tribal zone, where U.S. troops could not pursue them. During this period, the northern section of Afghanistan was largely free from Taliban activity, as it was dominated by ethnic Uzbeks, Tajiks and Hazaras who were previously members of the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance. Kabul, however, was frequently a target of Taliban attacks.
During the period between 2005 and 2008, there was a marked upswing in Taliban operations, and their success. The movement even began to expand operations in the northern province of Kunduz, where a sizeable and sympathetic Pashtun population lives amid Tajiks and Uzbeks. The use of suicide attacks already had become more common in 2004-05, but this trend multiplied exponentially between 2005 and 2008, to the point where there were approximately 100-130 suicide attacks in the country each year.1 Much of this activity was associated with the charismatic leadership of Mullah Dadullah (killed in 2007).2 During this period, the Taliban also benefited immensely from a consolidation of their position in Pakistan; a Pakistani offshoot of the Afghan Taliban, the Tehrik-e-Taliban-e-Pakistan, gained control over parts of Pakistan’s Northwest Frontier Province and Federally Administered Tribal Agencies and plunged that country into a low-grade civil war. In Afghanistan, Taliban operations during this period expanded into the north (most notably into the area of Kunar, Nuristan and Kunduz), and west (around Herat), while the region around Kandahar came to be virtually controlled by the Taliban.3
With world attention focused on Iraq during this period, the Afghan Taliban began to utilize Iraqi tactics (namely suicide attacks and IED, improvised explosive device, attacks). Today, IEDs are the number one source of Coalition casualties in Afghanistan. While Iraqi radicals used indiscriminate suicide attacks, killing large numbers of civilians, the Taliban, rooted in the traditional Pashtun honor code, did not target Afghan civilians, viewing such killings as dishonorable and anti-Islamic. Furthermore, most of the large number of suicide attacks that were directed against ISAF soldiers proved unsuccessful.4 Targeting foreign nationals, usually aid workers, was much more successful as a tactic, and caused the breakdown of most foreign aid programs designed to reconstruct Afghanistan during this period. Occasionally other Iraqi tactics, such as kidnapping, were utilized as well (although beheadings were generally avoided).
By the inauguration of the Obama administration, however, conditions on the ground had deteriorated further, and ISAF forces were on the defensive. This came about largely due to the Bush administration’s strong ideological resistance to the idea of nation building, which left Afghanistan with far too few troops present to keep the Taliban out. Throughout the south and east, Taliban “vanguard units” infiltrated the country and towns and began executing pro-Karzai government mullahs and officials, setting up “shadow courts” that administered swift sharia justice, and attacking local Afghan Army and Police checkpoints. The Taliban re-infiltration was facilitated by the corruption of the Karzai government and its local representatives, the police and judiciary. Broad swathes of territory were lost, as the U.S. belatedly began to shift troops from Iraq to Afghanistan which had become known as the “Forgotten War.”
President Obama responded with a “surge” in U.S. forces (30,000 troops) and a marked shift in counterinsurgency tactics under a newly-installed commander, Gen. Stanley McChrystal. McChrystal tried limiting Afghan civilian casualties and applying force more judiciously so as not to drive tribesmen who suffered “collateral damage” deaths from ISAF operations into the arms of the Taliban. McChrystal made clear that he did not believe the U.S. and its Coalition allies could “kill our way out of an insurgency.”5 In his major policy speech of December 1, 2009, President Obama detailed that the purpose of this surge would be to strategically defeat the Taliban over the course of some eighteen months, and then begin to withdraw U.S. troops in July of 2011.6 Characteristic of this new policy has been the attempt to go on the offensive against Taliban strongholds in the south and east of the country (which effectively had been under Taliban rule), and to increase the use of remote-controlled Predator drone UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) attacks against the bases of the Taliban in Pakistan’s remote tribal agencies. In 2004 and 2009, respectively, such drone attacks killed Nek Muhammad and Baitullah Mehsud, the heads of the Pakistani Taliban.7
The Obama administration seems to have settled upon the use of drones in both a force protection role and to disrupt terrorist plots by al-Qaeda being created in Pakistan’s tribal zones. In 2010, the CIA launched more than 100 drone attacks in Pakistan in attacks that killed hundreds of militants and a small number of civilians.8 Top al-Qaeda members have also been killed in drone strikes in PAKISTAN’s FATA zones.9 Gen. McChrystal was replaced in June 2010 by Gen. David Petraeus, who had previously commanded the “surge” offensive in Iraq (2007-9). Petraeus launched a more robust effort to rout Taliban insurgents, and commenced a policy of using special operations force contingents to engage in night raids on Taliban hideouts. While this policy was criticized by Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who feared it would lead many Afghans who were on the fence to join the Taliban, it has proven extremely effective in tactical terms.10
A second major component of Islamist activity in Afghanistan is al-Qaeda and the foreign jihadis that support it. Although the core of al-Qaeda is Arab, its ranks also include fighters from Uzbekistan,11 Turkey12 and Muslims of European descent,13 as well as other nationalities.14 Contrary to popular perception, no Chechens have been killed, captured or arrested in the Afghan theater of operations. These affiliated radicals cannot be easily distinguished from their counterparts in Pakistan (nor are all of them necessarily members of al-Qaeda “central”), and regularly utilize bases scattered throughout Pakistan’s Northwest Frontier Province to carry out raids into Afghanistan. While the Taliban have tried to minimize civilian casualties from suicide attacks, al-Qaeda and its allies are not known for such restraint, and are presumed to be responsible for the bloodier mass-casualty, Iraq-style suicide attacks that have occurred in the country since 2005.15 In addition, the org anization carried out one of the most successful penetration suicide attacks to date against the CIA in Khost on December 30, 2009.16 (During this operation, an al-Qaeda double agent who claimed to be working for the CIA set off a suicide bomb among a group of CIA agents, killing eight of them). However, while al-Qaeda and its allies might supply shock-troops and suicide bombers to the Taliban, their overall role in the fighting is minimal. Rather, al-Qaeda’s primary aid to the Taliban is in the form of sophisticated Internet and media propaganda.17
The third Islamist component is the Hizb-e-Islami of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar. Hekmatyar was an important commander in the anti-Soviet jihad, but during the 1992 civil war contributed significantly to the destruction of Afghanistan (especially Kabul), and fled to Iran in order to escape the Taliban in 1996. His base of support within Afghanistan collapsed, and although he returned in 2002 he has not been able to mobilize mass support since.18 Most of the fighters that belong to Hizb (there do not appear to be any authoritative numbers in this regard) operate in the north-eastern section of the country, close to the Pakistan border, and are ethnically Pashtuns.19 The principal division between Hizb and the larger Taliban resistance appears to be personal; as Hekmatyar was one of the major mujahideen warlords against whom the Taliban fought in 1992-6. As an old-style Afghani leader, he is not viewed as being very aggressive in his operations against the ISAF. However, Hizb does appear to be responsible for several assassination attempts against President Hamid Karzai in 2007 and again in 2008,20 as well as a number of rocket attacks. As of March 2010, Hekmatyar appeared to be conducting negotiations with the Karzai government.21
Located at the crossroads of the Middle East, Central Asia and South Asia, Afghanistan is divided by geography and ethnicity. The central section of the country is bisected by the Hindu Kush Mountains (impassable except through the Salang Pass), while the southern section is divided from Pakistan by the mountainous region of the Federally Administered Tribal Agencies, and consists of semi-mountainous and arid regions tapering into full desert along the Iranian border.
Ethnically, the Pashtuns comprise about 40 percent of the population (speaking Pashtu), located in the south and east along the Pakistani border, while Tajiks make up an additional 25-30 percent (speaking Dari, a dialect of Farsi) and are located in the north-east and along the Iranian border to the west. Significant other minorities include the Uzbeks (approximately 9 percent) located along the border with Uzbekistan to the north, and Hazaras (approximately 9 percent) located in the central mountainous region. A number of other minorities including Turkmen, Aimaks, Pashais, Kizil Bashis and Balochis, comprise the rest of the population.22
In general Sufism has had a central place in Afghani Muslim society. There are three major Sufi orders: the Naqshbandiyya (which tends to be closer to mainstream Sunnism), the Chishtiyya (associated with India) and the Qadiriyya (which is pan-Islamic). The Tajik population has traditionally had a close cultural relationship with the Sufi heritage of Persia (but not with its Shi'ite aspect), while the Pashtuns have been more influenced by the reformist Deobandi movements originating in India and Pakistan. For the most part Afghani cities had a semi-secular elite that was either pro-western in its orientation or pro-communist during the period prior to the rise of the Taliban in 1996.
Afghanistan generally has been characterized by a weak central government more adept at playing off foreign attempts at domination than actually ruling it. The efforts of reformist rulers such as King Amanullah (1919-29), who sought to establish a strong, liberal regime, were overwhelmingly unsuccessful.23 Starting in the 1950s, the USSR established close relations with Afghanistan and gradually built up both its interests as well as the local Communist party, culminating in the overthrow of the monarch in 1973 and the establishment of a Communist-dominated regime there five years later. This regime based its power upon the Pashtun Durrani tribe (in opposition to the traditional cultural domination of the Tajiks), but was quickly beset by popular opposition. The USSR came to the aid of the Afghan Communist regime, and invaded the country in 1979 to bolster it. The Soviets remained, and became embroiled in a bloody, protracted fight against the largely Islamist opposition (based out of Peshawar, Pakistan), until ultimately withdrawing in 1989.
Although the conflict ended in defeat for the USSR, Afghanistan’s Islamists were unable to adequately exploit the Soviet Union’s withdrawal and instead fell to fighting among themselves. The resulting civil war continued until 1996, when Kabul was finally captured by Northern Alliance chief Ahmad Shah Massoud after a number of the prominent communist supporters switched sides.24
The period between 1992 and the rise of the Taliban in 1994-96 was characterized by the balkanization of Afghanistan. Tribal and local Islamist leaders carved out separate fiefdoms throughout the country, and bombarded Kabul whenever they could. In essence the ethnic-tribal conglomeration that had been forcefully put together by the Afghan kings in the late 19th century fell apart when central rule collapsed. Separate Uzbek, Tajik and Hazara mini-states were created in the north while the Pashtun lands in the south fell into chaos. The northern mini-states were ruled over by strongmen or “warlords” such as Ismail Khan and General Rashid Dostum, who brought a modicum of stability to their regions. During this period, the country’s dependence upon the drug trade grew immensely. The Taliban (“the students” in Farsi) first appeared in 1994, portraying themselves as a movement of youth dedicated to eliminating anarchy and chaos.25 This tribal religious movement began among the Pashtuns living in the country’s war-torn south, where mujahideen-turned-bandits preyed on the common people. In response, a group of religious students, or Talibs, united under a local mullah named Omar and created vigilante groups. These then moved through the Pashtun south, disarming mujahideen groups and enforcing strict sharia law. By 1995, the Taliban had conquered most of the Pashtun south and had begun to move against Tajiks in the east.
Until 1997, the movement appeared invincible, capturing Kabul in 1996, and pushing government supporters (led by the charismatic Ahmad Shah Massoud) into the far northeast corner of the country. While the Taliban suffered reverses in 1997 and 1998 (and responded with massacres), by 2001 they were in control of approximately 95 percent of the territory of Afghanistan.
Especially after 1998, the Taliban under their leader Mullah Omar, lacking allies or outside support, began to rely upon foreign radical Muslims, mainly (but not exclusively) those associated with Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaeda organization. Many radicals gravitated to Afghanistan because of the Taliban’s strict imposition of sharia law, and their influence was indicated by the March 2001 destruction of the Buddhas of Bamiyan, Afghanistan’s greatest historical site, because they were deemed to be “heathen idols.”26 The Taliban, however, were reluctant to anger the United States overtly, and apparently opposed the September 11, 2001 attacks that were orchestrated and carried out by al-Qaeda.27 But when President George W. Bush subsequently demanded that the Taliban hand over Bin Laden and other members of his network resident in Afghanistan, the Taliban refused to do so. When the U.S. invaded Afghanistan in response during October of 2001, the Taliban and al-Qaeda banded together to oppose it.
In general, since 2002, there has been a much closer ideological relationship between the Taliban and al-Qaeda than there was previously. While the pre-September 11 Taliban had elements in their leadership that strongly opposed globalist attacks28—even according to some accounts sought to warn of the coming al-Qaeda attacks —after losing power the two ideologies converged more closely. There still is some tension between the Taliban, whose roots are in the Deobandi reformist school of north India and its ramifications in Pakistan, and globalist radical Muslims, whose roots are Arab-centered and purely Salafi. Traditionally Deobandis have not cultivated the same abhorrence of Sufism that is characteristic of Salafism, and thus were able to win support among the Pashtuns (themselves largely influenced by Sufism) and other Afghanis. However, currently Taliban commanders regularly comment favorably concerning al-Qaeda; a good example is that of Mullah Dadullah (killed 2007), who stated: “We like the al-Qaeda organization. We consider it a friendly and brotherly organization, which shares our ideology and concepts. We have close ties and constant contacts with it. Our cooperation is ideal.”29
A major factor in the success of the Taliban has been their ability to portray themselves as the representatives and guardians of Islam in Afghanistan. Because their primary opponent, the ISAF, is separated from the Afghan people by language, culture and religion, and has frequently employed air-strikes that kill inordinate numbers of civilians, the Taliban have been able to mobilize popular support effectively. The Taliban, in essence, see themselves as the latest manifestation of Afghan holy warriors who have waged wars against invading American, Soviet and British infidels throughout the centuries. As guerillas, they have sought to create chaos and disrupt public order in order to highlight another major selling point for Afghans: that they imposed order during the period of 1994-2001, and removed the corrupt and violent warlords that had dominated the country in the wake of the Soviet departure. Although most of the Afghan ulema at present decry the tactics of the Taliban, especially suicide bombings, which kill many innocent Afghans and are seen as un-Islamic, there is surprisingly little opposition to the movement on religious grounds. An ethnic undercurrent is also present; many Pashtuns see the Taliban as representing their ethnic group vis-à-vis northern Uzbeks, Hazaras and Tajiks, who play an unprecedented role in the current Afghan government.
Perhaps the most contentious issue from both a socio-economic and a religious point of view is that of opium cultivation. Opium serves as the mainstay of the Afghan economy in the southern section of the country.30 Once harvested, it is taken either northward over the mountain passes through Central Asia to Russia, eastwards to Pakistan or, less commonly, westwards to Iran. After the collapse of the Taliban regime in 2001, opium cultivation regained prominence in the south. Although ISAF and a network of NGOs have tried to either eradicate it or offer more constructive alternatives to the farmers, opium production continues to be an economic mainstay in southern Afghanistan. There is ample evidence that the Taliban and other radical Muslim organizations protect the cultivation of opium and benefit financially from it.31 Annual intake from the cultivation of opium poppies is estimated to be approximately $4 billion.32 According to some sources, the Taliban earn between $100 and $300 million each year from this trade.33 One of the primary goals of ISAF’s “surge” has been to break this economic support for the Taliban.
The central government of Afghanistan is weak and relies upon the support of both local elites (meaning traditional tribal elders and city-based elites) and foreign aid (both governmental and from NGOs) in order to survive. Traditional tribal support is reflected in the institution of the loya jirga, a tribally-appointed body that ratified the Afghan constitution in December 2003. Members, numbering a total of 502, were drawn from all over the country, and were elected with reserved seats for women and religious minorities. The institution of the loya jirga is one that is rejected by radical Muslims because of its tribal character, and some Afghans resent the presence in it of former warlords and those who are guilty of crimes during the period between 1992-96.
The government’s support for political Islam is reflected in Chapter 1, Article 2 of the Afghan Constitution, where it states that “The religion of the state of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan is the sacred religion of Islam.”34 In general, the Islamists have sought to portray the Karzai government as one that is subservient to the wishes of the United States, and corrupt and un-Islamic as a whole.35 Taliban propaganda, for example, routinely refers to President Karzai as the “new Shah Shujah,” a reference to the Afghan king put on the throne forcefully by British invaders in the 19th century. Although the Taliban have not been as dogmatic in their opposition to democratic elections (in 2005 and 2009) as have other radical Muslims, they have frequently threatened voters with violence.36 Reflecting this intimidation, areas controlled by Taliban had almost no voter turnout during the most recent parliamentary elections held in the fall of 2010. These tactics, however, have not been successful in other areas, where there is little or no Taliban presence. Because of their continued (and often violent) opposition toward the Sufi practices of most Afghans, the Taliban and al-Qaeda also suffer from a public relations problem.
There are, however several Islamic parties that are allied with the government or participate in the political process. The comparatively moderate Jami'at-i Islami, led by Dr. Abdullah Abdullah (who served as foreign minister in the Karzai regime) consistently either supports the government or participates in the elections. Other Islamists maintain an antagonistic relationship with the state, hoping in the near future to supplant it, and return the country to sharia rule. The Karzai regime, in its turn, attempts to do everything that it can to maintain its Islamic legitimacy and give the radicals no opening for accusations of being non-Muslim. Occasionally, Karzai himself has even spoken of the possibility of a reconciliation with the Taliban or even of himself joining their movement.37 The Karzai government itself has also countenanced the promulgation of at least some aspects of sharia law in an effort to co-opt its Islamist opposition and portray itself as more Islamic.
 Figures are drawn from both the official United Nations report on suicide attacks in Afghanistan (listing 123 for 2006, and 77 for 2007 [until June 30]), and the Afghanistan Conflict Monitor, listing approximately 150 for 2010. See United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, “Suicide Attacks in Afghanistan (2001-2007),” September 9, 2007, http://www.reliefweb.int/rw/RWFiles2007.nsf/FilesByRWDocUnidFilename/EKOI-76W52H-Full_Report.pdf/$File/Full_Report.pdf; and “Security Incidents,” Human Security Report Project Afghanistan Conflict Monitor, September 2010, http://www.afghanconflictmonitor.org/incidents.html.
 Matthias Gebauer, “The Star Of Afghanistan’s Jihad,” Der Spiegel (Hamburg), March 1, 2007, http://www.spiegel.de/international/0,1518,469172,00.html; on suicide attacks, see Brian Glyn Williams, “Mullah Omar’s Missiles: A Field Report on Suicide Bombers in Afghanistan, Middle East Policy 15, no. 4 (2008), 1-21, http://184.108.40.206/search?q=cache:Kx0tc1iiKBoJ:www.carlisle.army.mil/ietcop/documents/MEP%2520-%2520Mullah%2520Omars%2520Missiles%2520-%2520A%2520Field%2520Report%2520on%2520Suicide%2520Bombers%2520in%2520Afghanistan%2520-%2520Winter%252008.pdf+Mullah+Omar%27s+Missiles&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=2&gl=us&client=firefox-a; Ahmad Muwaffaq Zaydan, Su`ud Taliban: al-imara al-thaniyya (Beirut: al-Ahliyya, 2007), 172-79.
 “Taliban Control Half of Afghanistan, Report Says,” Telegraph (London), November 22, 2007, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/1570232/Taliban-control-half-of-Afghanistan-says-report.html.
 Williams, “Mullah Omar’s Missiles”; For a general overview of the Afghan conflict, see Brian Glyn Williams, Afghanistan: The Longest War (Pittsburgh, PA; University of Pennsylvania Press, 2011).
 As cited in Tom Vanden Brook, “Marines Fighting Taliban Strive to Win Afghan Locals’ Trust,” USA Today, August 3, 2009, http://www.cnas.org/node/3065.
 “Full President Obama Speech Text on Afghanistan,” Los Angeles Times, December 1, 2009, http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/washington/2009/12/obama-speech-text-afghanistan.html.
 Brian Glyn Williams, “The CIA’s Covert Drone Campaign in Pakistan, 2004-2010: The History of an Assassination Campaign,” Studies in Terrorism and Conflict no. 33, Winter 2010.
 Peter Bergen and Katherine Tiedemann, “The Year of the Drone,” New America Foundation, n.d., http://counterterrorism.newamerica.net/drones.
 Williams, “The CIA’s Drone War in Pakistan, 2004-2010.”
 Bryan Glyn Williams, Afghanistan Declassified: A Guide to America’s Longest War (Pittsburgh; University of Pennsylvania Press, 2011), esp. the chapter entitled “Obama’s War.”
 Ahmed Rashid, Jihad: The Rise of Militant Islam in Central Asia (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2002), esp. chapter 7.
 Brian Glyn Williams, “On the Trail of the Lions of Islam: A History of Foreign Fighters in Afghanistan and Pakistan, 1980 to 2010,” Orbis 55, iss. 2, (2011).
 See, for example, Nicola Smith, “Irishman Wants To Kill For Islam,” Sunday Times (London), November 15, 2009, http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/ireland/article6917485.ece; Stefan Nicola, “Analysis: German Suspects In Afghanistan,” UPI, May 1, 2008, http://www.spacewar.com/reports/Analysis_German_suspects_in_Afghanistan_999.html; “Dozens of Westerners Attending Terror Camps,” MSNBC, October 19, 2009, http://www.millennium-ark.net/NEWS/09_Terror/091020.Westerners.terror.camps.html.
 Such as Uighur radicals; See B. Raman, “Suspected Death of Yuldashev: Good News for Uzbekistan, China, Germany,” South Asia Analysis Group Paper no. 3442, October 3, 2009, http://www.southasiaanalysis.org/%5Cpapers35%5Cpaper3442.html.
 Williams, “Mullah Omar’s Missiles”; see also “‘I Agreed to Become a Suicide Bomber,’” BBC (London), November 12, 2009, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/8357011.stm.
 Robert Baer, “A Dagger to the CIA,” GQ, April 2010, http://www.gq.com/news-politics/politics/201004/dagger-to-the-cia; for the suicide video, see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HB1NJ8zOOso.
 See, for example, its online journal, Tala’i` Khurasan, at http://www.e-prism.org/images/kurasan_No.11-_121428_-_28-12-07.pdf.
 Zaydan, Su`ud Taliban, 157-70.
 “Hizb-i-Islami (Islamic Party),” Globalsecurity.org, n.d., http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/para/hizbi-islami.htm.
 Responsibility for these assassination attempts has been disputed, and the Taliban also claimed the 2008 attempt.
 “Hekmatyar Gives Karzai 15 Demands for Possible Peace Pact with Govt,” ANI, March 23, 2010, http://www.thaindian.com/newsportal/world-news/hekmatyar-gives-karzai-15-demands-for-possible-peace-pact-with-govt_100338249.html.
 “Afghanistan,” Central Intelligence Agency World Factbook, June 24, 2010, https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/af.html.
 Stephen Tanner, Afghanistan: A Military History from Alexander the Great to the war against the Taliban (Cambridge, MA.: Da Capo Press, 2009).
 Ahmed Rashid, Taliban: Militant Islam, Oil and Fundamentalism in Central Asia (New Haven: Yale Note Bene Books, 2001), esp. chapters 1-3.
 Fahmi Huwaydi, Taliban: jundallah fi al-ma`raka al-ghalat (Beirut: Dar al-Shuruq, 2001), 9-31; for official statements, see http://www.alemarah.info/english/.
 Barry Bearak, “Afghan Says Destruction of Buddhas is Complete,” New York Times, March 12, 2001, http://www.nytimes.com/2001/03/12/world/afghan-says-destruction-of-buddhas-is-complete.html.
 Kate Clark, “The Taliban Minister, The U.S. Envoy and the Warning of September 11 That Was Ignored,” Centre for Research on Globalization, September 7, 2002, http://globalresearch.ca/articles/CLA209A.html.
 Kate Clark, “Taliban ‘Warned US of Huge Attack,’” BBC (London), September 7, 2002, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/2242594.stm.
 Brian Glyn Williams, “Suicide Bombings in Afghanistan,” Jane’s Islamic Affairs Analyst, September 2007, 5, http://www.brianglynwilliams.com/IAA%20suicide.pdf.
 United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime, Afghanistan Opium Survey 2007: Executive Summary, August 2007, http://www.unodc.org/pdf/research/AFG07_ExSum_web.pdf.
 Jon Lee Anderson, “The Taliban’s Opium War,” New Yorker, July 9, 2007, http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2007/07/09/070709fa_fact_anderson; Gretchen Peters, “How Opium Profits The Taliban,” United States Institute of Peace Peaceworks no. 62, August 2009, http://www.usip.org/files/resources/taliban_opium_1.pdf.
 United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime, Afghanistan Opium Survey 2008: Executive Summary, August 2008, http://www.unodc.org/documents/publications/Afghanistan_Opium_Survey_2008.pdf.
 “Poppy Cultivation: Arms Funding for Taliban,” MERINews, June 25, 2008, http://www.merinews.com/article/poppy-cultivation-arms-funding-for-taliban/136344.shtml; “Afghan Surge Aims to Break Poppy Trade,” UPI, April 29, 2009, http://www.upi.com/Top_News/2009/04/29/Afghan-surge-aims-to-break-poppy-trade/UPI-40031241008160/.
 The Constitution of Afghanistan, n.d., http://www.afghan-web.com/politics/current_constitution.html.
 “Taliban: Winning the War of Words?” International Crisis Group Asia Report no. 158, July 24, 2008, http://www.crisisgroup.org/home/index.cfm?id=5589&l=1.
 See “Afghanistan’s Election Challenges,” International Crisis Group Asia Report no. 171, June 24, 2009, http://www.crisisgroup.org/home/index.cfm?id=6176&l=1.
 “Karzai To Lawmakers: ‘I Might Join the Taliban,’” Associated Press, April 5, 2010, http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/36178710/.